What do you think when you hear the term millennials? Maybe you are a millennial yourself. If so, you know that not everything they say is true about all Millennials – or even most. Today, we are going to debunk some of the common myths about the millennial generation, starting with the myth that it is useful to think of millennials as some generic whole.
- Millennials are Monolithic.
First of all, there is an intense irony in attempting to define the millennial generation as a whole. Millennials are the most diverse generation yet, a product of increasing global travel and migration. In the United States for example, only slightly over half of millennial individuals identify as white, down from over three-fourths in the recent past. One key to unlocking the millennial demographic is to first of all do not view all millennials as the same. While statistics can help show key trends, it is important to view millennials as people first, and not as a generation.
- All Millennials are Irresponsible.
Another common myth about millennials is that they are lazy and spoiled. While it is true that more young millennials are living with their parents for longer and fewer own homes, they are also living in a very different world. These demographics represent the increasing diversity in the labor market, where college costs more and good-paying jobs are much harder to find, with more competition among increasingly diverse graduates. Many millennials leave college with unrealistic expectations about finding a job given the degrees they have. Thus, while they may be hard workers, they are finding it difficult to stay in one place with one job. If anything, millennials tend to be harder workers, willing to work longer hours than ever before, with more than a quarter of millennials also working side jobs.
- All Millennials are Tech Savvy.
Born into the digital age, millennials are heavy users of text messages (a median of 50 texts a day) who like to play video games and get their media via live stream, “cutting the cord” of traditional media outlets. That said, not all millennials are the same, and they certainly do not require tech solutions all the time. Millennials generally agree that technology is not always good for everything. For businesses tempted to woo the millennial generation with expensive digital campaigns and storefront upgrades, it always pays to start looking at target demographics – and not simply millennials as a whole. You might be surprised what you find when it comes to your business and what your customers prefer.
- All Millennials Tend to Be Short-Sighted.
Another common misconception arises from the fact that millennials often think of the future differently from previous generations – but they do still think of the future. This cycles back to the original point: Millennials as a whole are definitively not monolithic. Prior generations have often seen themselves in terms of defined stages of life: saving for retirement. Millennials tend to see themselves in more fluid terms, as saving for financial freedom, including the freedom to stop working eventually. Regardless, millennials tend to be savvier when it comes to saving money as well, with over a third saving more than 20% of their income. For the millennial generation, again, it is all about having those options available, about freedom and about diversity in how to think and live.
- All Millennials are Selfish.
Another common myth views Millennials as people who think only of themselves, the “Me Generation.” In fact, studies have shown that millennials are more reliant on social approval and social interaction than previous generations. While millennials tend to be distrustful of others and less likely to want to simply give money to a “good cause” they know little about, they are far more likely to want to be involved via social media and personal interactions when it comes to charitable giving. Again, this shows the far more diverse nature of millennials as a whole: less likely to invest in a faceless monolith, far more likely to give when the cause is one they can see for themselves – and share with their community.
These are just a few millennial myths and a few ways in which millennials are like – but unlike – previous generations, as well as like – but unlike – one another. What do you think? Do these statistics match your observations? Does it give you something to think about moving forward?