OMG OMG The Millennials Are Coming! What do they want now?!?!?!?!?
Any consultant or organization that is trying to tell you What Millennials Want is full of hot air, or, I suspect, a much more odiferous solid. Millennials are a myth. And we have proof.
Oh sure, the word millennial is a handy term for a group of people born between 1982 and 2002 or thereabouts (they can’t seem to agree on a definitive timeline) but that’s where the usefulness of the term comes to a screeching halt.
Millennials do NOT all like avocado toast, or flex days, or facial hair, or Netflix, or skateboards, or me-time, or living in their parents' basement.
Millennials are NOT all commitment-phobic, spoiled and entitled, unbearably smug or self-centred.
I realize this is bad news for every consultant and advisory group out there that is leveraging their in-depth knowledge of the millennials to help clients figure out how to appeal to a new and exotic species of consumers/employees.
The fact is we must not try and change our products, services, brands, policies, institutions or ideas for the Millennials because they only resemble each other 15% of the time. In other words, Millennials disagree on everything 85% of the time. They are not even aligned enough to be considered a group.
Basing decisions of any sort on a group with so little in common is like slapping a clown with a noodle: it’s absurd, ridiculous and a huge waste of time.
How do we know? Along with a sociologist from a leading university, we designed and administered 75,000 social-science surveys across Canada and the United States. We included as many as 340 questions in survey waves, measured the importance of 40 core human values, and set quotas that statistically represent the populations of both countries.
The questions were adapted from the World Happiness Index, the Bhutan Gross Domestic Happiness index, and other proven social-science tools. We studied this immense data pool for close to two years, and two startling facts emerged.
Age-based cohorts of any sort, including Millennials, disagree on pretty much everything pretty much all of the time. Age is irrelevant. As an example, across all 340 variables and 40 values, Boomers only agree 13% of the time. Generation X scored an 11% agreement. And the Millennials? Well, as mentioned, they agree with each other just 15% of the time.
With results like these, how can we even consider them to be a group? We can’t. We can’t and we shouldn’t be changing things for a group that can’t even be defined as a group beyond the one rock-solid-ish fact that we know for certain (more-or-less): when they were born, kind of, roughly. Nobody even seems to agree on this.
As much as the use of age-based demographic groups is a really horrible way to profile the wants, needs, or expectations of any age group — including the so-called Millennials — the use of shared values is a remarkably effective way to cluster people for the sake of creating market segments or audience profiles.
We call this Valuegraphics, instead of demographics.
Based on our 100,00 North American surveys, across those 340 questions/40 core human values, Valuegraphics groups are aligned as much as 89% of the time. And age doesn't matter, not even a bit.
The age of age is over.
Age cannot be used to define the wants, needs or expectations of any target audience. But our shared values can; because our values are what motivate us most.