ACTIONABLE RESEARCH ON GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS
10 Things Millennials Are Doing MORE Than Their Boomer Parents

10 Things Millennials Are Doing MORE Than Their Boomer Parents

You’ve seen all the headlines about the industries that Millennials are killing, but what about the things they’re doing (and buying) MORE than Boomers?

A lot of attention is devoted to all the things that Millennials aren’t doing as much as Boomers—like not buying motorcycles, juice, fabric softener, napkins, cereal, magazines, going to chain restaurants, malls, casinos, etc. In fact, headlines starting with “Millennials Are Killing…” have become so common that they’re being mocked in listicles, and viral memes. Last week, one Millennial created a collage of some of the things her generation has been accused of murdering, to “make a memorial of all our destruction.” She’s now offering the print on a t-shirt, thanks to the popularity of her Reddit post on the topic.

So clearly the world is fascinated (or bemused, depending on your age) by the things that Millennials don’t do. But what about the things that they do MORE than previous generations? There are plenty. Mashable recently rounded up a list that included working more, receiving more of an education, going to libraries, and outvoting Boomers and Xers in the election. (Though not voting for the current president was also on the list.) Some of the things that Millennials are doing more than their Boomer parents are fueling new industries, or creating enormous opportunities for existing ones. Here are 10 we have the receipts on: 

1. GOING OUT TO EAT

Millennials are going out to eat a lot more than their parents. According to recent research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, though all adult generations are spending about the same percentage of their money on food, Millennials are more likely to eat at restaurants while older generations are more likely to go grocery shopping. (The research also found that Millennials are spending comparatively more on gas and “electronics/hobbies/clothing stores.”) Stats from the Food Institute and MMGY Global also show that Millennials are spending $89 more a year on dining out than the average American, and $305 more than 55-64-year-olds. While they may not be going to the same restaurants their Boomer parents did (sorry Applebee’s), their willingness to spend on dining out has created enormous opportunity in the restaurant industry, fueling the fast-casual trend, and more.

2. STREAMING

Millennials are leading the streaming revolution in entertainment. The generation loves their TV-connected devices more than their TVs—according to a recent Millennials on Millennials report from Nielsen. The report has revealed that TV-connected devices, like game consoles and digital streaming devices, “account for 23% of Millennials’ total time with video, compared with just 6% for consumers 35 and older,” and that Millennials spend about 27% less time watching traditional TV as a result. A new ComScore analysis found that “there is a stark shift away from TV and toward digital” among Millennials, compared to Gen X and Boomers. In a breakdown of the total amount of hours 18-34-year-olds spent with TV and digital media in 2016, digital outweighs live TV by around 11 billion hours, and smartphones are “driving the numbers way up”—a trend we explored in The Post-TV Gen. Millennials are also more likely to pay for multiple streaming services than other generations. Nearly half (48%) of the younger demo is already watching content on multiple services, compared to 28% who have only one. While this generation gap obviously spells trouble for traditional TV, it’s a major boon for the streaming industry, which is becoming increasingly crowded, and creating a new age of content.

3. SPENDING ON SELF CARE

Millennials are often villainized for not spending as much as older consumers, but guess what? Eighteen-33-years-old spend twice as much on self-care as Boomers, and in 2015, 94% of Millennials were reportedly making personal improvement commitments, compared to 84% of Boomers and 81% of Xers. They also anticipated spending an average $300 a month on self-improvement, twice as much as Boomers. The obsession coincides with the rise of the Internet—Google gives endless info on health and beauty through a simple search, with self-care searches reaching a five-year high in 2017. Their interest might also be driven by their high expectations for themselves, as well as the ease at which they can compare themselves to others: “75% of Millennials use social media…and every one of them sees other Millennials succeeding in high contrast.”  

4. SAVING FOR THE FUTURE (OR A BETTER LIFESTYLE)

We continue to see evidence that Millennials are better savers than Boomers. According to a recent survey from Bankrate.com, 72% of Millennials have savings, compared to 64% of Boomers. A Bank of America Merrill Edge survey shows 18-34-year-olds are saving more of their income on average than Boomers, Gen X, and even senior citizens. Another from Fidelity has found that 80% of 18-35-year-olds have an emergency fund, with an average of $9,100 saved, surpassing the average amount Boomers and Gen Xers have saved. Six in ten are also already saving for retirement, an increase of 9% from two years ago, and 61% say that saving makes them happy. Millennial parents are also making saving a priority, putting more money in their children’s college fund than older generation parents. A study by Sallie Mae found that parents aged 35 years or younger have saved an average of $20,155 for higher education, while Boomers have saved $18,323 and Gen Xers have saved $12,428. The survey also found that saving for college has increased by 48% from last year, with 57% of parents with children under the age of 18 saving this year. Analysts say that “Millennial parents place more of a priority on the college experience” than previous generations, and are placing more importance on helping their kids avoid student debt.

5. USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Millennials can’t stop, won’t stop scrolling social media, with 42% saying they can’t go five hours without checking their feeds, according to eMarketer. Some say FOMO is the culprit while others blame our brains—tiny releases of dopamine are associated with positive feedback on profiles. Some also say the delayed-marriage generation’s extra free time has something to do with it, which may be why (in part), other, older generations are less likely to look. Only 26% of Gen X and 29% of Boomers said they couldn’t spend more than five hours off social media. In related news, Millennials are expected to take 25,700 selfies throughout their lives—accounting for 55% of all selfies on social media—that’s 31% more than Gen X, and 46% more than Boomers. Scoff if you will, but those selfies have been credited for boosting multiple industries, namely the beauty business, which is benefitting from Millennials’ desire to be photo-ready. 

6. EMBRACING NEW TECH

Millennials are the most likely generation to be tech addicted, which might be why they’re also the generation that will be the first to embrace new tech and devices. A recent Adobe study found that Millennials have an average of 7.7 devices total, and use 3.3 daily. They are also the biggest “cross-device” users: 90% switch devices mid-activity, compared to 76% of Xers and 58% of Boomers. For Millennials in the workplace, technology may be a deal breaker. A new study from Dell and Intel revealed that 42% of 18-34-year-olds would quit a job with substandard tech and 82% say workplace tech is a factor when considering accepting a new job, compared to 25% and 67% of employees 35-years-old or older respectively. About four in five Millennials say technology makes it easier to perform at work, 73% are excited for more advanced levels of virtual sharing, 70% for smart offices, and 67% for VR/AR. The generation is also spurring the sales of digital voice assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have jumped 129% from last year. A third of Millennials will reportedly use a digital voice assistant this year, and about four times more Millennials than Baby Boomers will use them by 2019. Consumers 25-34-years-old are the heaviest virtual assistant users, and Amazon Echo is the most popular device.

7. BUYING BRANDS THAT SUPPORT A CAUSE (THAT THEY BELIEVE IN)

Young consumers will “go above and beyond” for brands who support the causes they believe in. According to market research firm Toluna, although 29% of Millennials are skeptical towards brands supporting causes, almost half say they will seek out brands that align with the ones they support. They are also more likely than older generations to put more money on it: 47% of Millennials would be willing to pay more for products if it ensures the money goes towards causes they support, compared to 32% of Gen Xers and 15% of Boomers. Millennials are also picking products from companies with activist CEOs. A study from Weber Shandwick found that 51% of 18-35-year-olds are more inclined to buy from companies with CEOs who stand up for issues they support. Not only are they “voting by wallet,” but 47% believe CEOs “have a responsibility to speak up” about causes that impact society, nearly double Gen X and Boomers.

8. DRINKING WINE

Millennials are loving their vino—more than Boomers. According to the Wine Market Council, Millennials drink more wine than any other generation, comprising 36% of all wine drinkers, just edging out Boomers’ 34%, and purchasing 42% of wine sold compared to Boomers’ 30%. They’re also the last to leave the wine bar: Millennials ask for the check after drinking 3.1 glasses of wine, compared to Gen Xers at 2.4 and Boomers at 1.9. Their more open-minded wine tastes are creating opportunities for the industry, with the generation fueling the growth of organic wine sales, as well as rosé.

9. CUTTING BACK ON CLUTTER

Minimalist Millennials and Gen Xers won’t take their parents’ stuff, and The New York Times reports that Goodwill is “overrun” with the excess donations. Younger generations are no longer concerned with “keep[ing] up with the Joneses” by stocking up and showcasing fine china. Besides, the average age of home ownership has been pushed back and young people more often think that Less is More and value experiences over things. Because of this, the storage business is booming and some seniors are paying up to $5,000 to de-clutter, with Goodwill receiving “about 20% more donations of everything than in previous years.”

10. EMBRACING THE GENDER BLUR

Millennials are “igniting an identity revolution.” In their third annual “Accelerating Acceptance” report, GLAAD revealed that 84% of Millennials report themselves as “strictly heterosexual” compared to 91% of Gen X and 94% of Boomers. While those 35 and older tend to use words like “gay,” “lesbian,” “man,” and “woman,” the 20% of 18-34-year-olds who identify as LGBTQ were more likely to describe their sexual orientation and gender “in words that are beyond the binary,” like “asexual,” “pansexual,” “gender fluid,” and “genderqueer.” In our Genreless Generation trend, we reported that Millennials and post-Millennials are more comfortable with blending and bending gender, with 78% saying it’s ok for girls to be masculine and guys to be feminine. Their new mindset is helping the gender neutral trend to grow, both in marketing, and in products for this generation and the next.

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