What you know about millennials is wrong, basically

Young woman in a coffee shop

A new report suggests that employers looking to appeal to millennials – a group of about 85 million people in the U.S. and 8.5 million in Canada – should stop trying to lump them into one mass market.

According to Advertising Age, new research from Carat, based on 14,000 millennials aged 15-to-34, suggests that the majority of the age group doesn’t live up to the “hyper-connected optimistic digital extroverts” stereotype.

I’m not sure I knew about this particular stereotype. I know about the one where millennials are all big entitled babies who spend their days taking selfies in their bedrooms at mom and dad’s house, where they still live at 30 (and I don’t really buy into that one since I know plenty of sharp, socially savvy, hard-working millennials). But I didn’t know about the optimistic digital extroverts tag. Then again, maybe those two images aren’t that different.

Either way, if you are an employer trying to appeal to young talent – now the largest demographic in the Canadian workforce, this information should be of use to you. (It was created for marketers, not employers, but applies to your employer brand.)

According to the report, the above descriptor only applies to about 42% of millennials, or, says Ad Age, about 36 million people in the U.S.

“The other 49 million have been somewhat neglected under the assumption that they belong to the same monolithic group.”

Carat’s U.S. CEO and Global President, Doug Ray said, according to Ad Age, that the problem might lie in the rush to amass behavioral data on millennials,
“focusing on cookie-level data that expires and doesn’t tell you about the person’s identity or mobile use.”

Using attitudinal and behavioral data, Carat broke down the 85 million into smaller segments. Samples of the breakdown are below. You can read about the sections in more detail here.

“Trend-Netters” — 42% of millennials

“Digital extroverts spreading trends and experiences,” according to Carat. Also, “Fashionable, pop culture-savvy and impulse-driven.” Michelle Lynn of Dentsu Aegis Network says this group is “current,” but not true trendsetters.

“Alter-Natives” — 23% of millennials

The “non-conformist digital native,” this group, which skews younger, prizes privacy, perhaps as a result of witnessing so much oversharing.

“Lifepreneurs” — 19% of millennials

Ambitious and lifestyle-aware, this group is less tech savvy.

“BetaBlazers” — 16% of millennials

These guys are the trendsetters, according to the report. More “effortlessly worldly” than the “Trend-Netters,” they read high-brow and niche publications that represent different points of view and like brands that are story-driven and exclusive.

In my day we would have called that last group “pretentious,” party because we were jealous of their sophistication and savoire faire. Regardless, every generation has its trendsetters. Obviously it’s going to be a select few. This should surprise no one.

Another thing we know about millennials is that they’re motivated by meaning.
When it comes to where they want to work, more than 50% say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, while 90% want to use their skills for good.

Keep all this in mind while trying to appeal to young talent. And, again, read more here.


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