All About Millennials

Updated 04.15.14
Loyalty is highly coveted in today’s media world, particularly among Millennials—some of America’s most connected consumers. These adults aged 18-29 are in many ways redefining how marketers and content creators think about loyalty. Audiences are fragmenting across more and more platforms and their loyalty shifts as they seek out ways to consume the content that’s most important to them, on their terms.

As these forces shape the brand loyalty landscape, it’s important to remember that where you live still holds sway in determining behaviors. For example, local flavors create key differences among “brand-loyal” Millennials. In this case, we defined brand-loyal consumers as those who agree they are loyal to only a few fashion brands and stick with them.

Here’s a look at two different markets—Salt Lake City, Utah, and Syracuse, N.Y.—measured by Nielsen Scarborough.
Lifestyle and Consumer Habits…………Salt Lake City………………………………………Syracuse
Having a baby (next 12 mos.)……………2x more likely to plan on having a baby….69% less likely to plan on having a baby
Online banking on mobile                                                                                                                      (past 30 days)…………………………………25% more likely to’ve used mobile device…12% less likely to have used mobile device                                                                                                           Buy locally grown food…………………….11% less likely to buy locally grown food….28% more likely to buy locally grown food                                                                                                      Currently uninsured………………………..10% more likely to be uninsured…………….78% less likely to be uninsured                                                                                                                                Go online for local news…………………..8% less likely to go online for local news…59% more likely to go online for local news

Read as: Brand-loyal Millennials in Salt Lake City are 2x more likely than all Millennials to plan on having a baby in the next 12 months.
Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+ Study, Release 2, 2013 – GfK MRI Attitudinal Insights Data.
From family-planning to decision-making in the produce aisle or around online banking, brand-loyal Millennials’ lifestyles and daily behaviors vary widely across each market. This is why it’s so important to “know the locals” whenever—and wherever—you place advertising or programming content to reach your desired consumers.



Millennials may be many things, but they may not be what you expect. Millennials are the social generation. They’re the founders of the social media movement—constantly connected to their social circles via online and mobile. They prefer to live in dense, diverse urban villages where social interaction is just outside their front doors. They value authenticity and creativity, and they buy local goods made by members of their communities. They care about their families, friends and philanthropic causes. But they’re also coming of age in the most dire economic climate since the Great Depression–making their families, communities and social networks even more valuable as they band together.

Millennials are 77 million strong, on par with Baby Boomers, and they make up 24 percent of the U.S. population. This represents significant opportunity for brands that understand who Millennials are, where they live and what they watch and buy. In order to truly understand Millennials, however, they must be put in the context of the other generations. While there are varied definitions of the generations from the past century, Nielsen defines them as follows:

Greatest Generation (1901-1924)
Silent Generation (1925-1945)
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Generation X (1965-1976)
Millennials/Gen Y (1977-1995)
–Younger Millennials (18-27)
–Older Millennials (28-36)
Generation Z (1995-Present)

Population by Generation

Population by Generation

Nielsen covers a lot of ground, from online to offline habits, structuring its analysis around some myth-busting findings. But of particular interest are the statistics made available regarding the demographics of this oh-so-coveted generation, described as ‘diverse, expressive and optimistic’.

The definition of a Millennial can take many forms. Nielsen refers to Millennials as being between the ages of 18-36, noting that their behavior may not be homogenous. In some cases, Nielsen breaks the age bracket down into younger (18-27) and older (27-36) Millennials.

Here are some interesting stats:

Millennials (18-36) comprise 24% of the US population (77 million individuals), on par with Boomers (1946-1964) and Gen Z (born 1995-present);

The median income for younger Millennials is $25k, while it’s almost double that ($48k) for older Millennials;

Millennials account for 1 in every 5 same-sex couples;

Only 21% of Millennials are married, while 42% of Boomers were married at their age;

Almost 1 in 4 (23% to be exact) have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, making them the most educated generation (more demographic breakdowns of college graduates can be found here);

Millennials are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation, with 19% being Hispanic, 14% African-American and 5% Asian;
As for those Millennial mothers, some 36% of Millennial women have had children;
About 2 in 3 Millennials are US-born;

An impressive 38% of Millennials are bilingual, up from 22% in 2003.

So where are Millennials most likely to be found? The study points to an increasing desire on their part to live in urban environments, doing away with the suburban picket-fence mythology. Interestingly, the top markets by concentration of Millennials are primarily in the Western side of the country, while for Boomers, the top markets are mostly on the East Coast.

Here are the top 10 markets by concentration of Millennials, along with their index relative to the rest of the country:

Austin, TX (120);
Salt Lake City, UT (117);
San Diego, CA (117);
Los Angeles, CA (117);
Denver, CO (109);
Washington, DC (109);
Houston, TX (108);
Las Vegas, NV (108);
San Francisco, CA (107);
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX (106).

The top 5 for Boomers?

Portland-Auburn, ME (117);
Burlington, VT-NY (114);
Albany, NY (111);
Hartford & New Haven (110);
Pittsburgh, PA (109).

Millennials? Coveted by marketers. The wealthy? Also coveted. Wealthy Millennials? So where to find these young high-income earners? Nielsen breaks down the top 10 US markets by concentration of wealthy (at least $100k in income) Millennials (18-36), with the study results indicating that those pursuing wealthy Millennials might end up finding their fair share of wealthy Boomers too. The results suggest that the wealthy…both young and old…tend to gravitate towards the same markets. Here are the top 10 markets by concentration of wealthy Millennials, along with each market’s index in relation to the national average:

Washington, DC (1.9%; 232);
San Francisco (1.7%; 206);
Boston (1.4%; 172);
New York (1.3%; 166);
Baltimore (1.3%; 161);
Seattle-Tacoma (1.2%; 151);
San Diego (1.2%; 139);
Austin (1.1%); 139);
Chicago (1.1%; 137);
Denver (1.1%; 132).

Notably, those top 3 markets are also the top 3 by concentration of wealthy Boomers. Other markets on the list appearing among Boomers’ top 10 include Baltimore (#4 for Boomers), New York (#6 for Boomers), Seattle-Tacoma (#8 for Boomers), and Denver (#9 for Boomers). Another way of looking at it? Markets such as San Diego, Austin and Chicago have a high concentration of wealthy youth, but not as much for wealthy Boomers. In fact, separately, the report shows that Austin is the top market in the US by concentration of Millennials.

Nielsen’s study shows that in terms of wealth, Millennials generally trail the rest of the population. The overall US median for income-producing assets is $14,700, but for Millennials (in this case, 20-34-year-olds) it’s a much smaller $8,000. However, that tends to be skewed by younger Millennials (20-24), who have a much smaller amount of wealth on average ($3,900) than their older counterparts (25-34; $9,700).

It makes sense that Millennials would have less income-producing assets (they’ve had less time to build them up), but the study finds that Millennials are fairly well represented in the top-end of wealth. For example, Millennials account for 23.9% of those with assets of less than $25k, and that share gradually declines to a low of 7.5% share of those with assets of $500,000-749,900. But it then rebounds, with Millennials actually accounting for 14.7% share of those with at least $2 million in income-producing assets. Nielsen attributes this to “their penchant for investing in new startups and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Facebook is their preference in social media. What about the rest?

Facebook is their preference in social media. What about the rest?

A comScore study defined Millennials as the generation born beginning in 1980 (and defined for the purposes of this analysis as adults ages 18-34). They are an extremely unique demographic segment with digital media consumption habits that vary greatly from older generations. While those age 35 and older still comprise the majority of media audiences in the U.S., Millennials account for a disproportionate share of total screen time and provide a useful glimpse at what the future of media consumption will look like. Because their media consumption habits serve as a leading indicator for the broader media landscape, understanding how to market to this valuable demographic is vital to brands, agencies and media companies seeking to stay ahead of the curve.

The recent comScore study which offered marketers some addition insights into the Millennial generation. Some 17% of Millennials (18-34) use Snapchat on a monthly basis. While it’s well known that Snapchat’s user demographics skew young, the comScore study offers another point of confirmation: just 5% of 35-54-year-olds and 1% of the 55+ crowd are using the fast-growing application.

A point on that growth: GlobalWebIndex recently asserted that Snapchat’s global user base (defined as internet users aged 16-64) grew by 56% between Q3 and Q4 2013.

Returning to the comScore study, which was based on figures drawn from November 2013, it’s no surprise that Millennials outpace other age groups in adoption of social networks. Facebook remains their dominant choice, with 91% using it, followed by Instagram (46%), Twitter (39%), Tumblr (30%), Pinterest, and LinkedIn (each at 27%). Millennials lead the other age groups in adoption in each case save for LinkedIn, where they trail both 35-54-year-olds (33%) and those in the 55+ group (32%).

Another interesting point to note: while comScore doesn’t offer exact percentages, a chart in its study suggests that Millennials spend more time on Snapchat than on Pinterest, and about as much as on Tumblr. (And while Facebook carries their social networking consumption by a considerable degree…76% share…that trails other age groups by a significant margin.)

The following are some highlights from the other insights comScore would like marketers to know about the younger generation:

Millennials spend more time across desktop and mobile platforms than their older counterparts, with the gap particularly acute on mobile.

Some 18% of Millennials were mobile-only internet users in November, compared to 5% for 35-54-year-olds and 3% for the 55+ bracket.

Smartphone penetration stood at 81% among Millennials during the 3-month average ending in November, outpacing the 35-54 (68%) and 55+ (40%) groups (nationally it’s now above 65%).

Millennials are more likely to own an iPhone than other generations.

Millennials are more likely than the online adult population to: be using video on-demand; prefer watching TV shows online; and to skip ads when watching recorded TV shows.

In November, Millennials watched about twice as many online video as those aged 55 and older (355.9 versus 178.4);
Millennials see more display ads per person (2,311 per month) than the older age groups, and are targeted more efficiently also.

In another report produced by Crowdtap and Ipsos, shows that in general, Millennials are more likely to trust user-generated content (UGC) than other types of media, also tending to find UGC more memorable. The results echo similar findings from other research (see here and here for examples) which has shown this lean towards UGC to be more prevalent among younger than older generations.

Specifically, when it comes to trustworthiness, Millennials (defined in this study as being born between 1977 and 1995) are most apt to trust product/brand conversations with friends and family (74%) followed by peer reviews (68%). From the “other media” list, professional and industry reviews make an appearance, with 64% of Millennials trusting this information. This is just the latest study to show that consumer reviews tend to be as trusted…if not more trusted…than expert reviews.

About half of Millennials trust information they find over social networks (50%) and on blogs and bulletin boards (48%), rivaled by the proportion that trust product information from a company website (49%). Traditional media fall a little further down the list: fewer trust information they find in print magazines or newspapers (44%), radio (37%) and on TV (34%). Banner ads (19%) are the least trusted (and the most ignored).

Overall, 53% of Millennials surveyed said that user-generated content has an influence on their purchase decisions, compared to 44% for traditional media does and 23% for banner ads.

But…that’s not all! The study identifies the following “BREAKING NEWS” item: Millennials spend more daily time engaged with user-generated content than with TV! This part of the study feels a bit forced: the total daily time spent with various media totals 17.8 hours, but while these hours are not mutually exclusive (yes, Millennials sleep), there’s no mention of how they’re consumed in tandem and how engaged respondents are with each. But there it is, Millennials spend more time with this very broad view of UGC – social networking (18%), using email and other online messaging sources (6%) and talking with others about news/products/brands (6%) – than they do watching live (13%) or pre-recorded (10%) TV. (See here for the latest on TV viewing trends among youth.) Want to spin the breaking news another way? Millennials spend more time watching TV than they do social networking! Or, they spend more time playing computer or video games than using email and other messaging apps!

Nevertheless, the point of the study is generally that Millennials use and trust user-generated content – and likely do so at a greater rate than their elder counterparts (although no comparison surveys were conducted). The study’s recommendations are for marketers to:

“Create conversations over content;”
“Source influence from people that love the brand;”
“Think long-term, not short;” and
“Invest in your influencer relationships and reward them thoughtfully.”



In an article in by Kate Taylor, she asked the question, ‘How many hours a day do you spend on Facebook’? How about texting friends? Reading magazines? If you’re a millennial, it may be more time than you think. New research by social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap indicates that individuals ages 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media.

Those hours represent a total across multiple media sources, some of which are consumed simultaneously. For example, a twenty-something may report spending two hours a day on Facebook, an hour a day answering texts and three hours a day watching television, which would count as six hours total, but may only be three “real” hours of her day if she does some of those things at the same time.

“Millennials are always on,” says Anna Kassoway, Crowdtap’s chief marketing officer. “Some of it is passive consumption. A lot is media hours that are overlapping.”

Some forms of media are more important to millennials than others. Social media is a top priority, as 71% say that they engage in social media daily. User-generated content, which encompasses social-media posts, photos, blogs, email, texting and talking to others about media, occupies about 5.4 hours of the average millennial’s day. That’s 30% of their total daily media consumption.

The only rival to user-generated media is the old standby of traditional or Legacy media…print, radio and television…which accounts for 33% of millennials’ media consumption.

Traditional forms of media may take up more of millennials’ time, but user-generated content shapes millennials’ lives more than any other form of media. Information gathered through user-generated content is trusted 40% more than information from other media, including newspapers and magazines. Millennials also find user-generated content 30% more memorable than other sources.

What this research means for brands is important. Today, most companies spend their marketing budgets, even those geared toward social media, primarily on sending out advertising messages. Kassoway predicts that brands will increasingly rely on “influencers”: consumers who shape their peers’ perceptions through user generated content. Madewell’s #Flashtagram, for example, resulted in 500 Madewell employees, bloggers and fashion magazine editors posting their best denim shots on Instagram, gathering more than 160,000 likes in one day and 8.50 million impressions in total.

“The best social marketing is not publishing itself, but inspiring others to publish content about them,” says Kassoway.

As millennials are increasingly tapped into media, the question isn’t whether they’ll hear a brand’s message, but if they’ll listen.

Updated 04.02.14
The rising penetration of both smartphones and tablets has been well documented. In its latest annual “Digital Democracy Survey,” Deloitte offers another perspective, finding that 37% of Americans aged 14 and older own a trio of devices – laptop, smartphone and tablet – as of late 2013, up from 26% in late 2012 and 10% the year before. Not surprisingly, Millennials are leading the charge, although Gen Xers are close behind.

According to the study, 51% of both trailing (aged 14-24) and leading (aged 25-30) Millennials are “digital omnivores.” Not to be outdone, some 46% of Gen Xers (31-47) also own all 3 devices. The overall adoption rate is being dragged down by Boomers (48-66) and Matures (67+), of whom only 22% and 11%, respectively, have adopted all 3 devices.

In terms of overall penetration rates by device, the study indicates that:
81% of Americans aged 14 and up now own a laptop, up from 75% during the prior 2 years;
65% own a smartphone, up from 55% a year earlier and 43% the year before; and
An impressive 48% own a tablet, up from 36% a year earlier and just 13% the year before.

Meanwhile, among the 37% of respondents who count as “digital omnivores,” 45% are women.

Predictably, as consumers adopt more connected devices, their media consumption habits change. In this latest survey, Deloitte finds that trailing Millennials estimate that they spend more time watching movies and/or TV shows on connected devices (56% share) than on TVs (44% share). While this group watches more content on TV than on any other single device, the combination of viewing on desktops/laptops (32%), smartphones (9% share), gaming devices (8%) and tablets (7%) means that the traditional TV set no longer occupies the majority of their viewing time.

That’s not the case…yet…for other generations. TV maintains a slim majority share (53% share) of time spent watching movies and/or TV shows among trailing Millennials, while retaining a more solid footing for Gen Xers (70% share), Boomers (88% share) and Matures (92%). Those patterns are in line with recent figures from The Diffusion Group, which found 18-24-year-olds claiming to watch more TV content from online sources than from live TV broadcasts. As with the Deloitte study, online consumption patterns drastically decreased as the age bracket measured increased.

Both studies stand in contrast to Nielsen data, which suggests that youth continue to watch far more TV on traditional sets than on connected devices.

As for pay-TV, the Deloitte study provides yet more data suggesting that the cord-cutting trend has slowed. Only 3% of respondents reported having cancelled their paid services in the prior 12 months, unchanged from the year-earlier survey. And 1 in 10 said they do not – and did not have – pay-TV services, down from 12% a year earlier. Recent figures from the Leichtman Research Group revealed that pay-TV providers lost just 0.1% share of subscribers last year.

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