Famed for an always-on approach to social media, mobile technology and an outright obsession with celebrity culture, today's Millennial consumers may not be as type-cast as was previously thought, according to the Millennial Index from Bite and Redshift Research.
In fact, the joint study of 2,000 consumers in the UK and US, aged between 17 and 31, revealed a very different picture from which the researchers identified six key myths relating to this much-researched and potentially profitable generation, as follows:
- All Millennials spend their lives on Social Media
In truth, only a minority (41%) spend more than three hours a week on Facebook while 43% don't use Twitter at all. For those that do spend a lot of time online, they are not all busy organising their social lives, instead they are researching via work/study-related online forums and user groups.
- It's all about smartphones and tablets, not laptops and desktops
In truth, 65% of Millennials spend more time accessing the internet via a laptop or desktop PC than via their smartphone or tablet.
- Millennials spend their time chatting on social media and texting
In truth, the average Millennial spends 108 hours a year browsing the internet for work/study (almost as much time as they spend texting) and 77 hours a year reading news online (more time than on Twitter at 71 hours a year) and the 36 hours they spend looking at celebrity gossip).
- Millennials play online games and have no time for books
In truth, 61% of female Millennials are more likely to spend their time reading books. Half of the male Millennials surveyed did list gaming as a hobby but reading books still ranked as a popular pastime with 37% of respondents.
- Millennials love celebrity and have an unrealistic view of life
In truth, while the common view is that Millennials daydream about glamour and fame, ignoring the mundane realities of having to work hard for a living, the study found that as many believe that determination is the secret of success followed as hard work (77% each). The survey also found that Millennials are more likely to share a link related to their work or study than a link related to a celebrity (30% vs. 18%).
- All Millennials behave the same in their digital lives
In truth, the research demonstrated that Millennials have a hugely diverse range of behaviours in their digital lives. While technology has enabled big behavioural shifts, it has at the same time made consumer behaviour even more complex. The explosion in different behavioural patterns means marketers must beware the trap of treating their Millennial customers as a homogenous group.
"There have been lots of studies of this generation and many have painted a far too simplistic picture of how 17-31 year-olds actually behave," said Claire Davidson, insight and strategy director for Bite. "A failure to understand their real behaviour means brands will fail to provide them with content and services that fit with and enhance their lives. It is time we are realistic about this generation and what they do online."
Five Millennial Personas
Born after 1981 and before 2004, the Millennial generation is now coming of age. The oldest Millennials are now hitting their early 30s and the youngest will hit their teen years by 2017. Theirs is a world in which technology is a dominant and ever-present reality. Many technologies that older generations think of as "new" have always been around in the adult lives of the Millennials - the internet, mobile phones, games consoles are all technologies they have grown up with and it is therefore very hard for them to imagine what a world without such technologies would look like.
Apart from dispelling some of the common myths associated with Millennials, the study identified five emerging personas that reveal the generation's different aspirations, motives, and ways of interacting with the digital world, as follows:
- Digital Window Shoppers (28%)
Less engaged online than many of their peers, this group is also less likely to influence peer opinion. That said, their own consumer habits can be strongly influenced by what they see online.
- Digital Socialites (24%)
Highly sociable; these Millennials actively participate in online communities and social networks with their friends. They use the internet extensively for socialising and networking.
- Dynamic Media Junkies (21%)
This group is fully immersed in a culture of dynamic media - video clips, animation and streamed film/TV. They are highly technically literate and technology focused.
- Casually Engaged (16%)
Less engaged with the digital world than any of their peers, this group is more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs with less access to technology.
- The Emerging Technocracy (11%)
Born leaders, this group is strongly engaged with the digital world, influencing large numbers of their peers. They tend to be the highest earning members of their generation and are twice as likely to own a business or hold a senior management position already. They are possibly the future leaders of our society.
These personas are something of a warning to marketers that consumer behaviour today is only increasing in complexity. To succeed in successfully engaging this new generation, brands must commit to developing a deep understanding of their unique behaviours and personalities.