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5 Things Millennials Are Doing That Might Surprise You

Lots of assumptions are made about the most-analyzed generation ever, but you might be surprised by what they’re really doing…

Keeping up with Millennials can be tough. They inspire headline after headline every day—the sheer volume of information about them is the whole reason we have a curated newsfeed and newsletter devoted to hand-picking the most-important, relevant data and insights on young consumers. But even if you pay close attention to the way that Millennials and teens are shifting markets and changing industries, there are some things they’re doing that still might surprise you. Here are five behaviors that might not fit your idea of the generation, but they are in fact doing anyway…


Think using coupons is too old school for young consumers? Not so fast. Millennials are a generation of coupon “clippers”—though they’re mostly using them digitally of course. Bloomberg reports that almost 90% of Millennials say they use coupons, but while their parents cut the paper kind, young consumers are turning to sites like RetailMeNot and Gilt City to find their discounts and deals. A Ypulse monthly survey found that 92% of 13-33-year-olds have used a discount code online. In the end, their savings amount to the same as they did in the days of scissors and circulars. Traditionally analog coupon distributers like SmartSource and Valpak are finding ways to digitize, and the latter reports that almost 2 million coupons have been printed through their app and mobile site. Shortcuts are also being created for shoppers who favor digital savings: Chrome extension Honey scans any online shopping basket and applies all the coupon and sale codes available for the site automatically. Email is another couponing source for budget-conscious Millennial shoppers. A recent shopper behavior study revealed that Millennials are turning to emails when it comes to purchasing products and services: over the past six months 43% have been checking email from retailers more often, 47% have used more printable coupons, and 53% have used daily deals more often.


A few years of decline among young movie-goers have inspired some to rethink the movie-going experience, but according to theatre ad companies, Millennials are in the midst of a movie-attendance resurgence. National CineMedia reports that their Millennial movie-goer audience grew 16% in 2015, and is up 8% in 2016 so far. Their data shows that Millennials are 50% more likely to name movies as a passion than the general population, and are the age group most likely to purchase movie tickets in advance. According to a Ypulse monthly survey, 57% of 13-33-year-olds prefer to go to the movies on a night out. Teens and twentysomethings are fueling the trend: Movio, a data analytics firm used for cinema marketing, recently found that 18-25-year-olds go to the movies 8.5% more frequently than 30-34-year-olds.


All that fretting about young consumers and tablets killing print might have been a little premature: according to the New York Times, e-book sales have “slowed sharply.” Despite predictions that digital would overtake print by 2015, they accounted for 20% of the market in 2014, and have fallen 10% in 2015. E-book subscriptions services have shut down, while independent bookstores are seeing a stronger market. One fact many are particularly surprised by: even young digital natives say they prefer print. According to one study, 79% of Millennials in the U.S. read a print copy of a book in 2015, almost double the amount of those who read an e-book…which could be one reason that Kindle sales have been sliding. Need more evidence that actual, physical books are still a thing for young readers? Millennials’ favorite place to shop online is opening physical bookstores across the land. Amazon is expanding their IRL locations, with plans to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores. Millennials are also impacting the book publishing industry with their preferences: A recent Nielsen study on women in their 20s and early 30s, who likely read the iconic series, found that “Generation Potter” is driving sales for three book categories: ‘Grip Lit,’ children’s picture books, and adult coloring books.


Millennials have been accused of killing cash for some time, and predictions that their digital preferences and desire for more seamless experiences will drive the analog wallet into extinction are likely still correct—but it might not happen anytime soon. In fact, cash is actually appealing to financially cautious young consumers, who find it easier to keep track of than a debit or credit balance. A recent study found that 16-18-year-olds prefer cash to keep tabs on how much they spend, which is more difficult to do when using a card. Ypulse’s most recent financial tracker revealed that cash is the payment form 13-33-year-olds are using the most, with 76% saying they use cash in an average month, compared to 59% who say debit card, 52% who say credit card, and 32% who say digital app/payment.


They’re known as trend-chasing foodies, so Millennials can’t possibly be favoriting the same restaurants their parents visit…right? Sorry, it looks like their food tastes are broad and inclusive, and even an older food chain can attract young diners if they do the right things. The proof? Not only did Red Lobster get a sales boost after Beyoncé gave them a shout out on her single Formation, but they are reportedly also among Millennials’ favorite restaurants. In a Nation’s Restaurant News survey, Red Lobster placed No. four in the overall rankings for Casual-Dining chains—a dramatic jump from No. 14 last year—and was the top pick for 18-24-year-olds. The seafood chain has recently upgraded their menu to include “more substantial” dishes and locally sourced food, and renovated locations to include communal tables that appeal to Millennials’ social mindset. Red Lobster also made Ypulse’s list of Millennials’ favorite sit-down restaurants last year.