Are Millennials really obsessed with avocado toasts? How about Instagram? Can they buy a house by the age of 30? Are they really drowning in student debt? What are Millennial trends driving the generation?
This controversial generation is defining itself with unique traits, behaviors, and interests. Because they are born during the years of critical global changes, they are the most different compared to the generations that came before. Millennials had experienced technological, economic, and sociological transformations way before they reached adulthood.
In this article, we will be exploring trends that identify this generation. From career priorities and content consumption behaviors to their housing concerns and marriage ideals, we will provide you with what you need to know to understand Millennials. This way, you can get a better idea as to how they are driving industries today and perhaps, tap into the market more effectively.
Current Millennial Trends Table of Contents
- Perception of Food as an Experience
- Increased Demand for Wholesome Food
- Mobile-First Online Surfing
- Millennials are Embracing Minimalism
- Social Media is King
- More Interest in Businesses
- Slowly Dominating the Remote Work Scene
- Tech-Driven Workplaces
- Career Priorities of Millennials
- Drivers of Social Revolution and Respect Culture
- Wealth and Income of Millennials
- Rising Debts Among Millennials
- Challenges in Housing and Real Estate
- Millennials Are Not Rushing to Buy Cars
- Changing Ideas of Marriage Among Millennials
- Dual Income No Kids Couples on the Rise
- Revolution in Buying Habits
- Millennial Consumers Wants Convenience and Speed
- Greater Interest in Wellness and Health
- The Era of the Contactless Payment
- Unique Content Consumption
- Millennials Travel More
The world is now undergoing significant societal and cultural shifts. And, this is mainly due to Millennials finally becoming adults. Born between 1981 to 1996, members of this generation are now in their early 20’s to late 30’s. That means they are slowly gaining control of various aspects of society, economy, politics, and more.
Typically, generations are defined by unique traits, but they usually have commonalities with their predecessors. For example, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are hard workers that are used to grinding long hours. In contrast, Millennials seem to be distancing themselves from the previous generations from behavior to priorities.
While the demographics of various countries vary, Millennials are set to become the dominant generation by size. For example, there are about 72.1 million Millennials in the United States compared to 71.8 million Baby Boomers. By 2030, the difference between the two generations is expected to reach about 10 million. Now that Millennials are at the helm, they are creating trends that are not seen in the past generations.
Source: United States; US Census Bureau; As of July 1, 2018
1. Perception of Food as an Experience
More than sustenance, Millennials see food as an experience that leads to different tastes and interests. As such, they care about the source of their food and choose those that align with their ideals. For example, around 70% of Millennials are buying less bottled water due to the harmful effects of plastic on the environment.
More than following what is popular, Millennials are mindful of how their foods are produced. A majority of the generation, around 80%, want to find out the “behind the scenes” of their food. Consequently, this results in mindfully purchasing food resources from restaurants to groceries.
The increased connectivity also allowed Millennials to develop diverse tastes. They seek a variety of flavors, which often lead to popular trends such as cronut, organic proteins, kale, and more. More than 87% admit that they will spend on a nice meal even when it is out of their budgets. The urge to “share” various aspects of their lives, including food, through social media, is one of the primary drivers of such trends.
Source: What's Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast
2. Increased Demand for Wholesome Food
With the generation being mindful of health and the environment, they are also leading the demand for more wholesome food. They are more conscious about their food consumption from its effects on how it is sourced. While healthy food is an equal interest among different generations, Millennials prefer sustainability. They are more interested in organic, locally-sourced, and natural raw ingredients. This has led to an increasing interest in farm-to-table food establishments.
Furthermore, Millennials are more likely to closely examine their food and their health benefits. Up to 47% of young adults believe that animal protein is healthy. The surge of interest in the ketogenic diet seems to prove this as well. As such, they are driving researchers to further study the long-term effects of meat.
3. Mobile-First Online Surfing
Millennials are also increasing the demand for mobile computing innovations. Around 20% of this generation relies exclusively on tablets and smartphones to access the Internet. This mobile usage has now surpassed the use of laptops and desktop computers. For example, about 60% of Americans consume digital content using mobile devices.
Furthermore, smartphone usage has increased to 394% from 2010 to 2014. Tablets are also seeing a surge in demand during the same period, with a growth of about 1,700% in usage. In contrast, the use of desktop computers increased by only 37%.
The on-the-go lifestyle of Millennials has also driven developers to adopt a mobile-first approach in creating websites and web apps. Additionally, businesses with good online presence appeal more to young-adult consumers.
Source: Office for National Statistics (UK)
4. Millennials are Embracing Minimalism
While capitalism is still the dominant economic and political ideology around the world, Millennials are now shifting their focus on reducing material interests. As such, there is a surge of interest in minimalism in this age group. After all, with the current economy’s volatility, many Millennials are insecure about their financial future, thus pushing them to spend less.
Additionally, the increasing prices of gas, groceries, and other goods have forced young-adults to reassess their expenses and redirect to their savings. Along with student debts, they have less disposable income compared to past generations. The popularity of figures such as Marie Kondo has further highlighted the benefits of living with less.
Interestingly, Millennials have shifted their attention to experiences rather than owning things. Around 78% of them would rather spend on an experience, such as travel, than material goods. Additionally, the continuously increasing prices of real estate have limited Millennials to much smaller living spaces compared to the generations that came before them. As such, there is a conscious effort to declutter and improve their living conditions by choosing to own less.
5. Social Media is King
While social media websites existed as early as the 1990’s, it is Facebook that revolutionized how many people socialize online. Of course, Millennials are at the forefront of adapting to the modern ways of connecting with other people. While the giant social media platform will be turning 17 by February 2021, its popularity among Millennials is still unmatched. For instance, more than 81% of Millennials in the US access Facebook at least once a month.
Furthermore, other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are changing how Millennials are using these portals. About 90% of Millennials are active social media users, making them the dominant population in these platforms. Aside from socializing, these are used as primary sources of news, information, commerce, and business.
As such, they have created the influencer culture through the effect of social media on marketing and business. The influencer marketing industry is set to grow to $9.7 billion in 2020 alone. Marketing strategies now include tie-ups with influencers on various platforms to promote products and services. In fact, 91% believe that influencers have a significant effect on consumers’ buying behavior.
6. More Interest in Businesses
Millennials grew up during the Great Recession. That means they have the first-hand experience of unemployment and underemployment, which clocked in at around 8% and 18%, respectively, in its wake. This has led to significant changes in attitudes towards marriage, housing, car ownership, and financial priorities.
Young adults are now more focused on establishing a more stable financial future. While many are still in the workforce, there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit among Millennials. Over 50% have expressed that they want to start their own businesses. Fortunately, technology is providing valuable tools to these potential businessmen that the past generations did not have.
However, the effects of the Great Recession shows a different reality. About 38% say that they will delay starting a business because of the current economy. Of those who ventured into business, 41% reported that they were not able to start a line of credit. As such, there was a decrease of about 19% in entrepreneurial interest between 2005 to 2010.
Source: Lending Club
7. Slowly Dominating the Remote Work Scene
Millennials now make up the majority of the global workforce. And with them comes different priorities and attitudes towards work. While the past generation is quick to question their commitment to work, about 84% said that they are experiencing burnout from too much workload.
Along with new innovations in technology, they are inspiring new ways to approach work and productivity. Millennials now prioritize work-life balance. As such, they want flexible work schedules and commitments. With those from the same generation at the helm, businesses are now providing remote work opportunities for their employees. About 74% of managers have at least one team member who works remotely. Furthermore, 73% of all teams around the world are expected to have remote members by 2028.
Aside from working remotely, Millennials are embracing the gig economy. Freelancing is no longer considered as a side hustle for most young adults. That means self-employment has become a viable means of living for most young-adults. In fact, around 47% of Millennials are already freelancing.
Freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and People Per Hour allows Millennial workers to offer their services and products directly to clients. This means they can control their revenue streams, work schedules, and workloads.
Source: Virtual Vocations
8. Tech-Driven Workplaces
Prioritizing work-life balance among Millennials has encouraged companies to take advantage of technology to improve their overall efficiency and productivity. As such, more can be done in less time, so their employees do not have to log more hours than they have to.
For example, Millennials value collaboration more than any other generation. This is consistent with their non-work attitude towards socializing, such as the dominance of social media. However, the globalization of the workforce has created additional challenges to teams located in different locations and time zones.
These demands and challenges have given rise to advance productivity suites such as monday.com, Wrike and Trello. These platforms incorporate critical communication channels with various tools, such as project management, CRM, to-do lists, and more. That means team members can easily communicate and collaborate without leaving the platform.
Additionally, communication apps like Skype, Zoom, and Slack are becoming popular even among office-based teams. These software solutions provide mobility and accessibility, which create flexible work conditions. Aside from connecting teams from across different locations, employees can easily communicate with managers, stakeholders, and clients.
9. Career Priorities of Millennials
By the end of 2020, Millennials are expected to make up around 35% of the global workforce. As such, their influence on business and its evolution is increasingly becoming more vital. Known as the purpose-driven generation, their priorities are distinctly unique from their predecessors.
For instance, around 80% of Millennials say that they want to work for employers that align with their values and are socially responsible. Furthermore, 67% of them want to invest their time and money into businesses that reflect their political, social, and environmental values.
Of course, financial compensation is still the top priority when choosing a job. Around 49% of Millennials consider salary and other related compensation as their top criteria when applying for jobs.
Additionally, work-life balance is critical to this generation. Around 42.1% believe that employers should ensure the work-life balance of their employees. The demand for better work conditions is possibly driven by the fact that 84% of Millennials experience burnout due to overworking.
10. Drivers of Social Revolution and Respect Culture
Millennials are the most connected next to Gen Z. As such, they are more exposed to varying political, economic, social, and cultural views. They are also considered the most educated generation so far. This creates a more tolerant and idealistic population.
For example, American Millennials are the most liberal among generations. Based on a 2017 survey, around 59% of Millennials voters lean toward the Democratic Party compared to the 32% that favors the Republican Party.
With diversity at the center of their identity, they are most open to changes and geared towards confronting various issues of our time. In the past few decades alone, we see significant shifts in attitudes towards immigration, LGBT and gender, sex, criminal justice, and economic inequality. And, we can expect many revolutionary ideas in the coming years.
11. Wealth and Income of Millennials
Going through the Great Recession has profound effects on the wealth and income of Millennials. According to a study by Pew Research Center in 2019, Millennials seem to have less wealth than the last two generations before them.
Millennial households are worth about $12,500 on average. The number is quite low compared to the median net worth of boomers in 1983, which is about $20,700. Gen X also fared a bit better at the same age in 2016, with an average net worth of $15,100.
The disparity in household wealth can be attributed to the differences in debt by generation. More millennials graduate with bigger student loans. They also tend to owe more with about $19,000 compared to Gen X’s $12,800 at the same age.
Unfortunately, the median income among young adults has barely moved in the last decade or so. The average Millennial household income was about $71,400 in 2018. This is almost similar to Gen X’s income in 2001, which is about $70,000. The soaring prices of rent, education, child care, services, and other goods also add to the financial burden of the Millennials.
Source: Pew Research Center
12. Rising Debts Among Millennials
Millennials grew up during significant transitions in the economy and higher education. Around 39% of them attended and finished college. However, the cost of higher education rapidly increased during their lifetime. Since 2000, the cost of tuition, accommodations, and other related costs rose to about 68% in public, academic institutions. Consequently, the number of students who took loans doubled during the same years.
While college degrees open more opportunities, Millennials’ perception of their financial situation is bleak at best. Around 57% of them reported that student debt is the largest source of financial insecurity among their generation.
For example, as of the second quarter of 2019, there were around $497 billion in outstanding student loans for around 15.1 million Millennial borrowers. This equates to an average of $33,000 for each borrower.
However, this seems to be a worthwhile investment among Millennials. Those with college degrees experience increase in income faster. They also earn $1 million more in their lifetime compared to those with only a high school diploma. Current data on payments seem to reflect this. Around 86% of Millennials are non-default borrowers, which means they are paying their debts on time.
13. Challenges in Housing and Real Estate
Student loans and the increasing prices of basic commodities are not the only financial challenges faced by Millennials. They are also experiencing a different housing market compared to the previous generations. In the past three decades or so, the prices of housing increased by 39%. That means young adults are dealing with a more expensive real estate market than their parents did in the 1980s.
Additionally, rent prices also soared in the last 50 years. On average, rents have increased by about 46% since the 1960s. That means Millennials are not saving that much when they delay buying a house.
The state of the real estate market has changed how Millennials live. Many are living with roommates, with up to 33.8% of Millennials sharing their living space with others. On the other hand, others are still living with their parents to save on rent.
A majority of Millennials are also commuting more than two hours to work as many live far from their jobs to afford rent. They are choosing to live in near suburbs (28%) and outlying suburbs (22%) even if these locations are quite far from business districts due to lower rental prices.
14. Millennials Are Not Rushing to Buy Cars
Different priorities and ideals are also affecting Millennials in terms of owning a car. Coupled with revolutionary ride-sharing programs, they are considering car ownership less and less. For example, 55% of Millennials are making an effort to drive less. That means they are choosing access over ownership.
Aside from accessibility, this generation is consciously reducing road travel due to environmental concerns. Climate change, limited sources of fossil fuels, and the deteriorating condition of the planet are the primary drivers of this behavior. Additionally, 78% report that owning a car is challenging due to the expensive maintenance and gas.
Millennials have embraced the culture of sharing and collaboration, which affects how they navigate their world. They are more open to sharing a ride compared to the older generation. As such, they are also the early adopters of services such as Uber, Grab, Zipcar, and other similar ride-sharing services.
15. Changing Ideas of Marriage Among Millennials
Millennials are not pressuring themselves to get married right away. In the 1960s, the median age for marriage was 23 for men and 20 for women. On the other hand, Millennials are not getting married until they are 29 (men) and 27 (women).
The marriage rate is plummeting as well. Experts expect the marriage rate to drop to 70%, which is the lowest among generations. A large portion of Millennials will choose to remain unmarried through the age of 40. Additionally, the Pew Research Center predicts that around 25% will likely never marry at all.
While marriage is still an important milestone for around 70% of Millennials, it has lost its social significance among young couples. Millennials are choosing to live together and delay marriage for as long as they can. While many would like to marry but they want to build a more stable economic foundation before making the commitment.
Source: Pew Research Center
16. Dual Income No Kids Couples on the Rise
Over 70% of US households have no children under age 18. This is an impressive 23% rise since 1960, according to the US census.
While the older generations have had children in their 20’s, Millennials seem to forego having kids until later in life. For example, over 70% of American households have no children under 18. This is a significant rise from 23% in the 1960s.
Consequently, a new generation of dual-income, no kids couples are on the rise. Aside from having no kids, this generation is also delaying marriage. In the 1950s, women got married by the age of 20 on average. For men, they usually tie the knot by 23. However, by 2004, these ages rose to 26 and 27, respectively. That means Millennial couples would have their first kid during their early 30’s.
These young couples often prioritize career and financial freedom before having children, which accounts for the delay. The combination of an unstable economy, rising debts, and other global issues make Millennials rethink about raising kids right away. For instance, around 65% of young Indian couples prefer to delay having kids for up to four years after marriage. They opt to focus on their careers and financial stability.
17. Revolution in Buying Habits
Millennial consumers are also bringing different buyer values and behavior to the table. Around 70% of them define their needs and wants first before considering a purchase or engaging with a salesperson. Furthermore, around 44% identify specific products and solutions before communicating with a seller. Possibly, this is due to their limited disposable income.
Young adults are known to self-educate about a product or service before buying them. They conduct research relevant information using online business presence, online reviews, social recommendation, and more.
Due to this information-driven buying behavior, businesses recognize that I.Q. is the dominant trait of the Millennial buyers instead of E.Q. Also, these young buyers consider time, collaboration, and insight as top influencers in their purchase.
18. Millennial Consumers Want Convenience and Speed
Speaking of consumer behavior, there are two things that Millennials value the most: speed and convenience. Aside from price and quality, these two factors influenced the rapid growth of ecommerce and apps. Customers want their products right away without exerting too much effort.
Nowadays, various shipping and delivery methods aim to improve the overall customer experience. For example, retail stores offer same-day delivery, ship-to-store, pick-up from the store, and scheduled delivery. Millennials are also open to paying more for such services.
Furthermore, personalization improves the overall buying convenience from product research to brand loyalty. Ads are now tailored to specific interests, which allows businesses to offer their products and services to the right people.
For example, Amazon Prime is popular among Millennials, with 71% of them subscribed to the service. It offers personalized shopping experiences, such as Amazon Family and Amazon Elements, which tailor product selections according to the user. The one-click order, which eliminates the shopping cart altogether, is quite popular among this generation.
19. Greater Interest in Wellness and Health
Young adults are also facing more health issues than older generations. Conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes are common among Millennials compared to Gen X at the same age. Furthermore, mental health issues, such as depression, tobacco use disorder, substance use disorder, and hyperactivity are much more common in Millennials than other generations.
Consequently, interest in health and wellness is increasing in this group. They are thought to be the dominant driving force that pushed the wellness market to reach $4.2 trillion. Around 55 million Millennials are commercially insured as well, which covers health conditions.
But, this does not mean that they are healthier. From 2014 to 2017, major depression cases increased by 31% in Millennials. Similarly, other conditions have shown an increase in rates as well, such as substance use disorder (10%) and psychotic conditions (15%).
Source: Blue Cross Blue Shield
20. The Era of the Contactless Payment
Payment is also evolving with the times. Aside from credit and debit cards, there are more digital payment options that Millennials seem to prefer. The rise of PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and various digital currencies ensure better security and ease-of-use. Furthermore, retailers and businesses also have their own digital payment systems, which make it easy to conduct transactions.
Back in 2014, Millennials are the early adopters of these types of payment methods. By 2020, 23% of them use mobile payment at least once a week compared to 18% in 2015. The use of cash is decreasing as well, with only 58% preferring this payment method in 2020. This is a big difference from 2015’s 67%.
Peer-to-peer payments are easier with digital platforms as well. Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App have seen rapidly increasing users due to quick and easy money transfers between individuals. In fact, about 46% have used P2P payment apps at least once a week. And, about 15% of consumers report that they use such apps regularly. Consequently, banks and other institutions are seriously considering the financial, economic, and commercial implications of adapting real-time payment methods.
21. Unique Content Consumption
Millennials and Gen Z are growing up in a well-connected society using a digital medium. They are considered to have the most access to an unprecedented amount of information and content. Along with innovations in mobile technology, the young generation is devouring content like no other.
For example, 20% of Millennials spend more than 20 hours per week engaged with digital content. That does not include the other 28% who spend between 10 to 20 hours consuming online content per week.
Among their favorite media activities are watching TV shows and movies, listening to music, and checking/posting on social media. Furthermore, Millennials also lead in consuming new forms of content, such as watching short videos or listening to podcasts.
Source: IAB: Maru/Matchbox
22. Millennials Travel More
With an emphasis on new experiences over owning material things, Millennials are traveling more than any other generation. In 2018, young travelers spent $200 billion, with around 30% of them having more than $5000 as their travel budget.
Furthermore, around 82% of Millennials traveled in 2019. This is quite high compared to 75% of all other generations. Also, 69% of them take weekend trips to nearby destinations.
Millennials are driven by culture, with 86% of them traveling for this purpose alone. Additionally, 44% want to part and experience a different social scene. Another 28% want to shop when they travel.
They are also traveling more frequently but on shorter vacation days. On average, Millennials take 5.6 trips per year compared to Boomers, who take 3.5 and Gen X, who takes 4.0. However, vacation days taken by Millennials are relatively shorter, which is around 6.2 days compared to Boomers’ 7.8 days and Gen X’s 6.4 days.
Millennials Will Be The Decision Makers in the Next Few Years
The Millennial trends described above will soon be the reality as the generation becomes the dominating population. Their political, economic, environmental, and commercial values are already shaping the world today.
Furthermore, the next generation, Gen Z, is taking after the Millennial generation in different ways. Along with technological innovation, significant changes in ways of living are to be expected. Various industries are being disrupted in an effort to cater to the demands of Millennials. For example, Uber has changed the way Millennials commute.
On the other hand, Millennials are also facing unique challenges. Aside from the pandemic experienced around the world, Millennials will need to face its effects on politics, commerce, and economy. As such, another wave of changes in behavior and values are coming in the next few years.
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