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Brief Published: 18 Mar 2014

Understanding the Millennial Consumer

A group of Millennials

Stylus tuned into a webinar about the millennial consumer earlier this week, hosted by US-based consumer insights firm Iconoculture. The event provided some useful analysis of the millennial generation – identified as those aged between 19 and 36 – highlighting key mindsets central to their behaviour.

The discussion focused on the values most important to US millennials. For the past four years, success, happiness and comfort have consistently been three of the most important for this demographic. “The values that define this generation are really rooted in internal feelings of happiness or enjoyment,” said Katie Elfering, consumer strategist at Iconoculture.

This is affecting how millennials view their progression to adulthood – in particular, the question of marriage and children. Tough economic conditions are affecting their ability to do traditionally ‘grown-up’ things – such as getting married, buying a house or having kids. In response, millennials are questioning these traditional pathways to adulthood, preferring instead to spend more time developing their own lifestyles and identities – which they will want to preserve as much as possible when they do marry or have children.

Elfering recommends that brands ensure they are in tune with millennials’ lifestyles; don’t assume their lives will have the same trajectory as Gen X or boomers, she warned. This demographic will not be content with moving to the suburbs and leading a quiet life – more than 62% prefer to live in urban centres (Nielsen). Brands such as American retailer Target are already responding to this, developing compact city-centre stores to reach the millennial demographic on their own turf. For more on this, take a look at Big-Box Retailers Go Small. 

To delve into Stylus’ extensive coverage of the millennial consumer, take a look at our dedicated Gen Y: Youth & Millennials topics page.