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What Makes US Millennials Tick?

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Is your business ready to cater to the next generation? The demographers call this cohort the millennial generation. Marketers need to understand their needs, tastes and behaviors, a landmark study suggests.

Born between 1981 and 1991, according to Pew Research, the millennials outnumber the aging baby boomers and are three times larger than the generation that follows.

Barkley, an independent marketing agency, surveyed more than 5,000 millennials to develop a portrait of this generation's digital and social media habits, as well as their attitudes in the areas of cause marketing, grocery shopping, dining preferences and peer relations.

Millennials watch significantly less TV than nonmillennialls, the study showed. Only 26 percent of this generation reported watching 20 or more hours per week. When they are not watching live TV, they are more likely than other generations to watch shows mainly on their laptops (42 percent versus 18 percent for nonmillenials).

Compared with other generations, millennials are more aware of newer, youth-oriented marketing campaigns such as Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, which supports positive body images for women, or Gap Red, a campaign designed to eliminate AIDS in Africa. They report greater exposure to campaigns through social media (40 percent versus 9 percent for nonmillennials) and online news (28 percent versus 22 percent), while nonmillennials rely on newspapers and direct mail, the survey showed.

While a majority of all respondents shop alone, millennials are more likely to shop with others versus nonmillennials. Plus, millennials reported more shopping than other generations with family units, spouses, children and with adult friends.

Not only does this generation report a desire for adventure, but they also think life should be fun. Whether shopping, dining out or immersed in their mobile devices, millennials prefer the music turned up and a casual atmosphere, the responses showed. Millennials spent 18 percent of their monthly restaurant expenditures in fast-casual restaurants, compared to only 13 percent for other generations. Additionally, millennials crave snacking opportunities, and are more than twice as likely as older people to seek them out midmorning, midafternoon and late at night.

Perhaps because of their need to share and to find commonalities, 70 percent of millennials reported feeling more excited when their friends agreed with them about where to shop, eat and play. Only 48 percent of older adults were as heavily influenced by their friends and colleagues. Additionally, millennials gather information on products and services from more channels — more millennials than nonmillennials reported using a mobile device while shopping to research products (50 percent versus 21 percent).

"Since the millennials' generation is larger than the baby boomers and three times bigger than Generation X, marketers’ understanding of millennials’ needs, tastes and behaviors will clearly shape current and future business decisions," said Jeff Fromm, a Barkley senior vice president.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.




Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.