Wednesday 28 September 2016

Friday Five: Five Ways Global Millennials Are Rewriting the Rules

Why It Matters by Eliza Newcomb

More than two years ago, Edelman launched 8095, a global insights group and research study. This week, we updated the study to include more than 4,000 Millennials in 11 countries. The full report explores the latest insights in detail, but for today’s Friday Five I want to explore a few of the ways the Millennial generation has evolved since Edelman 8095’s 2010 launch. The on-and-offline world has progressed much in the last two years, and so too have Millennials.

1. Who we are

We are global, have only lived in a digitally-enhanced world, are becoming increasingly urban, influential and value experiences over “stuff.” Globally, 75 percent of Millennials see their country as influential to the world market. By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities or suburbs, and this is driven by Millennial migrations. Sixty-three percent of Millennials shop with friends or family. The youngest are turning 18 years old; and working or planning for their futures. The oldest are in their mid-thirties; some married with children while balancing successful careers. It’s hard to picture us as a “type” of person, or a nice demographic check-box.

2. We crowd-source information to make decisions

Millennials are digitally connected to friends around the world and look toward a global and local community when making decisions. We crowd-source information more than we did two years ago – 94 percent of Millennials surveyed said they research information to make decisions, up from 86 percent in 2010. As digital media adoption continues to grow, the rate of crowdsourcing is likely to continually increase. I use digital media to source ideas, and then I look to my community for insight before making a final purchase decision with my on- and offline communities.

3. We learn about trends from influencers, less so from brands

Consider this shift: in 2010, 35 percent of us said we’d look to brands to learn about new trends. In 2012, only 25 percent look to brands to inform trends. So who influences us? A fashion blogger in Vienna, a self-proclaimed “urban nomad” in New York City, a college friend and editor at The Guardian and a product designer who helps rid countries of landmines. Each is a Millennial with diverse values and aspirations, and each influences through digital channels. Without the advocacy of influencers like these, a brand will struggle to be in my consideration set.

4. We are increasingly comfortable in an increasingly uncomfortable economy

In 2010, Millennials (myself included) felt anxious, yet optimistic, about the economy. Today, we cite the global recession as a top concern, are optimistic and realistic, and while our life goals remain intact, they’ve evolved as a result of a stagnant economy. The job market was, and still is, tough, but we use online tools like LinkedIn to research opportunities, network and build relationships. We want a house and a family, but we also aspire to start our own businesses. After seeing the success of Millennial entrepreneurs at the forefront of digital innovation, we ask, “why can’t we do the same?” If a digital tool to make life easier doesn’t exist, you better believe a Millennial will soon create it.

5. Global events shape our values beliefs.

Think back to recent global events that helped shape people’s perceptions of the world. Personally, the events I most remember played out online. In 2011, social media was used to check-in on loved ones following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Digital and mobile channels made donations ever-easier. Citizen journalists documented the Arab Spring on Twitter with photos showing the transformative revolution. Like my Millennial counterparts, I’m defined by events that resonate in my life: traveling in Japan after high school and studying North African foreign policy in college. As a Millennial, your list will look different than mine, and if you asked me in 2010, my list would look different, too.

The Millennial generation’s values, opinions and behaviors evolve incredibly fast, driven by the information frenzy in which we thrive. Unquestionably, the world has flattened because of the digital technologies Millennials helped shape. What are you doing to be a part of this new world?

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