By Karen Schofield
In part four of our series, we focus on the Millennial mind-set in Mexico City, exploring the culture, forces for change, and what our happiness drivers mean for Mexico City Millennials using the framework outlined in our previous article.
The Culture: What Does It Mean To Be Mexican?
In Mexico, high value is placed on structure and hierarchy, with much of the culture revolving around religious values, as well as the concept of family and inclusiveness.
Being a part of the family is a bond that has high expectations of loyalty and reciprocity. Parents and family are treated with a high degree of respect, which may cause struggle between individual wants and needs and those of the household.
Mexicans possess a positive attitude and a tendency towards optimism. They place high importance on leisure time, realising their impulses and desires to enjoy life and have fun. Hosting parties plays a large part of Mexican life and making visitors feel comfortable is a large part of the values and customs of the country.[i]
Forces of Change
A Growing Economy and Emerging Middle Classes
Mexico is attracting the higher end industries that experts say could lead to lasting prosperity. Dozens of foreign companies are investing, consumer lifestyles are being transformed and a middle class is emerging in Mexico’s larger cities.[ii] These households are likely to be educated, duel income and spend significantly more on education, eating out, communications and leisure. They are also likely to be smaller in size than low-income households with fewer children.[iii]
Striving for Social Change
Despite its prosperity, Mexico is a country dogged by social issues surrounding obesity, safety and security, pollution, and the management of natural resources.
The government is making strides on its obesity crisis. Following official figures revealing that 70% of adults and 30% of children in Mexico are obese or overweight, the government launched a campaign restricting advertising for high-calorie food and soft drinks.[iv] This seems to have worked – over half of Mexicans admit to having reduced their carbonates intake, while consumption of water has increased.[v] Healthy lifestyle trends, such as organic food, are expected to become more popular.
Fighting Against Corruption
Corruption has a persistent presence in Mexico. The dramatic prison escape by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero last year have captivated public attention and are broadly seen as the work of corrupt officials.[vi] There’s a sense of rebellion among millennials, and a strong desire to make things right again.[vii]
Karma: Making a Difference
A combination of experience and globalisation has opened millennials’ eyes to the issues in their country, but they remain fiercely proud of their heritage. A resurgence of nationalism has been born, and a sense of “this is our country, we must help it” is prevalent. Mexico City’s millennials also belong to a globalised world and are keen for their city to shine, held up against the likes of New York, Tokyo, and Paris.
As a way of addressing this, Mexican youth are tackling certain issues. In response to sexual harassment on Mexico City’s streets, young women are fighting back with toy confetti guns and loud punk music. Tired of being left feeling violated, they believe it is better to make a stand in a fun, positive way, and are encouraging others to do the same.[viii]
Focus: Living for Today
Despite the issues, positivity reigns and Mexico City’s millennials are living for the here and now. Planning for the future is often ignored in favour of immediate gratification – whether that’s the latest smartphone, motorcycle, or drinks with friends.
Social relationships are hugely important and often play out through drinking and dancing in one of Mexico City’s many bars. Here, millennials are rediscovering drink of their ancestors – pulque. Hand-crafted and near impossible to export, pulque is making a comeback among millennials attracted to the drink’s nationalistic flavour and rumoured qualities as an aphrodisiac.[ix]
Mexico City is in the midst of a youth explosion, creating one of Latin America’s most dynamic street cultures. Thousands are attracted to its El Chopo market by live bands and a high-octane mix of fashion and attitude – from emos and goths to punks and girls’ roller derby.[x]
Success: Creative Freelancers
Creative industries are relatively new to the capital and young people are getting involved as a way to take charge of their personal lives, and to explore how they might make a living out of what they love to do.[xi] Driven less by wealth than previous generations, millennials are rebelling against big business. Many prefer to freelance, seeking out new opportunities and relaxed working structures. Success increasingly equals a role which requires no uniform and no 9-5.
Millennials want to feel valued, be included in making important decisions for their companies, and are seeking to be progressed as individuals. Switching from one job to another is usual for achieving accelerated professional growth and to maintain a balance between work and personal life.[xii]
Relationships: Friends and ‘Family’
Communication is essential to Mexicans, so devices and media which empower connections with others have been readily embraced.[xiii] Social media is not just a means of communication, but an integral part of millennials’ social life. Discovering, generating and sharing interesting content is a form of social currency.
Mexico City’s higher class inhabitants also love their dogs: the rise in income and education, along with young people’s choices to put off parenthood and have fewer children, have led to a boom in pet ownership, creating a new market for fancy goods and services for dogs including clothing and accessory boutiques, and spas and restaurants with dog snacks cooked by chefs.[xiv] It’s a startling cultural shift in a country where a dog’s life has long meant days chained to the roof of the house.
World: Youth-led Resistance
Unlike previous generations who attempted reform through hard work, to millennials, this is not enough. A recent change in political leadership has seen an upsurge in youth-led resistance. Corruption, the long-running war against drug cartels and deep economic disparity have been the focus of a procession of protests.
One of the many ways millennials in Mexico City are attempting to achieve reform is through social gaming. Coders are collaborating on games that aim to tackle serious social issues ignored by the mainstream media, such as child kidnapping, rape and gender inequality, in a new way.[xv]
Mexican millennials maintain a fighting spirit, remain optimistic about the future and are willing to take risks. They are looking for freedom and control of their lives over status and money and believe that change will be achieved for a better Mexico.
By Karen Schofield, Managing Director, Join The Dots Singapore
[iv] Market in Focus: Mexico, TNS