A Millennial’s Attempt At Understanding Research About Her Own Generation – #ResearchAboutMillennials
By Giulia Gasperi
Ever attended a conference presentation feeling like you were in a Discovery Channel documentary about yourself? If so, you’re probably a Millennial.
Millennials have been placed in the world’s biggest petri dish, by a landslide. The Google search query “Research about Millennials” unleashes roughly 21,300,000 results – that’s 100 times more sources than what lurks behind the search term “Research about GenX”.
Unable to resist the idea of exploring a virtual landscape almost as vast as habitable Planet Earth, I wrote this blog post to start a conversation with you on the broader topic of Research By/About/For/Through/[insert preposition of your choice] Millennials.
I invite you, my fellow researchers, thinkers and Discovery Channel Docu-stars of the Millennial Generation, to help me untangle some of the seemingly contradicting insights related to Millennials. You can do so by casting your vote for different sides of my story in polls sprinkled throughout this post, and by sharing your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom. I look forward to collecting your opinions to tie them into upcoming stuff in my Research X Millennials content series.
Out of hundreds of stats, this one is probably my favorite. As contradictory as it may sound, it perfectly summarizes what happens when you stuff billions of consumers into the same, enormous petri dish. And it begs the question: if they don’t consider themselves a Millennial, then what do they identify with, exactly? Curious to hear your thoughts on this.
1/ Millennials vs older generations
On the fence? Let’s review a few arguments in favor of either schools of thought.
So what? A solve to this divide in opinion proposes that Millennials follow the same life trajectory as previous generations, but with more stops along the way. Their path in life is a snakes and ladders game: less linear than before, a jumble of milestones that result in a more complex journey into adulthood. The differences between “Say” and “Do” are dictated by external factors, such as the economic climate they live in.
A more complicated life journey has repercussions on many aspects of life. Because “Millennials in the workplace” was one of the biggest themes in my 10-Google-page crusade. I decided to take a closer look at this aspect.
2/ Millennials in the workplace
Here are some more stats for both sides of this argument:
|They have not significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace||They have significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace|
They make their own career decisions: they are less influenced by parents or friends than generally expected.
They rely on others for career decisions: Top 1 approach to seeking employment is to be referred by a friend, relative or other connection
So what? This was my Aha! moment:
- While the Economist and CEB Global agree that 51% of Millennials look for jobs elsewhere, compared to 37% of GenX, CEB adds that 53% of Millennials find internal opportunities desirable, suggesting that Millennials are not Job hopping – they’re Experience hopping.
- Why is that? My speculation leads me to think that companies are still looking for the right loyalty triggers to help Millennials stick around. For example:
- 63% believe their leadership skills are not being developed
- Hiring managers today choose to hire more and more freelancers because of their fit with current workplace realities – e.g. the ability to put a supplier to work immediately, scaling employment in a way that mirrors business priorities and accessing specific skills.
In a way, Millennials are thus left with no other choice than to adapt to a more dynamic workplace:
- 79% consider quitting their regular job to work for themselves
- 82% believe starting a business today is easier than it has ever been before.
What looks like a chicken vs. egg argument essentially implies that businesses could do a better job at bridging the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created.
Unleashing loyalty and answering the question “what’s in it for me” is just as important in the Millennial workplace as in other aspects of their lives.
To unleash their loyalty, we need to look at what drives it and better understand Millennial Values and Attitudes.
This shifts the conversation into my third and last monologue/debate.
3/ Millennial Values & Attitudes
Hail The Stats!
|Individualistic & Me-Minded||Inclusive & We-Minded|
They are comfortable in their home nest: 60% eat with their family 4-5 nights per week, 85% mention parents are their best friends
A few thoughts as to why we are so divided on this. The easiest approach is to fall back on the good old “we can’t bundle billions of people together” argument. This article looks at how Millennials choose where to live, and states that while 42% want to stay near their families, 41% decide where to live based on their job and career decisions – that’s an equal share on both sides of the value spectrum. Different people have different priorities, and being a Millennial doesn’t change that.
I’d be ok with that, was it not for the stat about trust, which caught me off guard. How can Millennials be socially minded and distrusting at the same time?
- Less than 1 in 2 Millennials trust experts (e.g. doctors, financial advisors) to convince them of the merit of a brand (vs. 61% non-Millennials)
- 53% say they don’t trust anyone with financial guidance
On the opposite side of the spectrum,
- More than 1 in 2 Millennials trust websites and digital/social media advertising (vs. 33% non-Millennials)
- 60% want their banks to be a partner or friend
Next to this, Forbes argues that Millennials integrate their beliefs in causes of their choice, for companies they choose to support.
They are on the constant search for authenticity, for political and ethical truth.
Millennials are trying to shape their own way of navigating a reality sprinkled with corporate scandals, the fall of many long-standing financial institutions and the dot-com bubble burst. Disillusionment turns into learning experiences, and learning experiences turn one-track minds into multi-faceted chameleons.
Sometimes, the explanation lies on both sides of the spectrum.
Embracing their complexity can help us move closer to Millennial audiences and find new sweet spots to engage with them.
I mean us.
Enough from my end for now – curious to hear what you think, and specifically, what you believe this means for other big Millennial Labels, like “Shareconomy” or “The Wired Generation”.
Share your comments below!
Giulia Gasperi is known mostly for her faith in unicorns and love for fun facts, she speaks 5 languages and has resided in 9 countries across 4 continents. Today, as Research Director at InSites Consulting, she inspires top-tier brands all over the world and helps them unlock extraordinary insights from everyday consumer realities. Tomorrow, she hopes to become a ballerinastronaut.