Latest Data About Millennials.

Marketers are fascinated with Millennials and for good reason. Millennials (defined roughly as those 18-34, born 1980 or later) make up a mega slice of our U.S. population and are getting bigger. They may soon surpass Boomers in size and in importance for many products and services. Marketers are wise about not trying to apply old formulas in marketing to Millennials.

Pew Research Center recently issued their analysis of social and demographic trends, Millennials in Adulthood. Their latest study was conducted in February, so it’s hot off the presses.  I think Pew Research data is always fascinating particularly those data that recaps trends over time.

There were several key trends,  4 of which I believe will have significant marketing implications:

1. They have more financial hardship than previous generations.

Today’s college student graduates with $27,000 of debt. (As a frame of reference my 4-year education at Rutgers including tuition, room and board cost $8,000 total). They are the first generation with higher levels of poverty and unemployment than their previous generations. As result of their financial issues, far more Millennials live with ma & pa more than ever, and it is not considered a problem to do so. More than 40% of Millennials live with their parents or have “boomeranged” back to them at some point. Interestingly despite their financial issues, Millennials are optimistic about their future as more than 80% claim they have enough money (or will have) to live the lives they seek. But frugality and value will be values they will need as they cope with more modest short term fiscal realities.

2. They marry far later.

SDT-next-america-03-07-2014-0-02Perhaps a corollary of #1 or just a societal change, Millennials are in no hurry to marry. As shown, in 1980 roughly 1/2 of all Boomers, then aged 18-32 were married, while today only 1/4 of roughly similarly aged Millennial are married. So there’s less saving for the “first home” or baby on the way couples. More spending (within the realities of their debt) on lifestyle items.

3. They think Social Security will not be there for them later on in life.

51% of them (and 50% of Gen Xers) think there will be no Social Security for them when they get there. If they believe this, and it may be directionally true that the parameters of Social Security will be diminished or delayed, then saving is a must!

I pause for my strong plea to anyone in their 20s to invest heavily into their 401k if they have the ability to do so. Here’s a simple example, if you have invested $5000 at age 25 and if you are fortunate enough to gain compounded 8% annual growth (still not unreasonable if you average the highs and lows and do not waver), that $5,000 will yield $160,000 at age 70. Now add more saving to that over time and you can see that Millions (yes Millions) can be yours IF you start early, never be tempted to yank the money out early, invest wisely with a long term strategy and don’t get freaked out by highs and lows in a particular year.  End of lecture. The numbers speak for themselves!

4. Millennials have many digital “friends”

No news here. In today’s digital world a friend of a friend is a friend. So while Facebook, despite its omnipresence among all ages, may be on the verge of becoming  a little yesterday for some Millennials, it’s interesting to note that they average 250 Facebook friends, 3x the average for Boomers, who are rapidly growing as a social demo. Clearly Millennials are the first truly digital generation, and that will ripple through the balance of their lives. They will purchase more and more product and services online and will seek the digital recommendations of others.

Lots to absorb in this report, and lots to think about as a marketer. Smart, genuine, digital targeted marketing will be more successful than ever.

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One Comment

  1. Caroline Oakes says:

    Helpful post, Lonny. I am also enjoying Elizabeth Drescher’s related research (writes for Religious Dispatches) on Nones. Many thanks.

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