Five Things You Don’t Know About Millennials and Teens

Every month, we survey 1000 13-32-year-olds to learn about young consumers' attitudes and behaviors, and today we're using recent data to highlight five things that you probably don’t know about Millennials and teens, from their mobile behavior to their spending habits. Not everything you’ve read about them is true…

1. THEY’RE MORE TRADITIONAL THAN YOU THINK. 

Hookup culture and all those “newfangled” dating apps get a lot of attention, but in reality Millennials and teens are more traditional than you might think. 50% of 13-32-year-olds have been on a formal date, 25% are in a committed relationship, and 17% are married. The majority of those in a relationship met their significant other in an old-fashioned way: 32% met at school, 22% through mutual friends/family, 9% met at work. But how real is that infamous hookup culture? Only 23% of those over 18-years-old have had a one night stand. And while it’s true that sexting is a thing—34% have sexted, and 15% have “naughty Snapchatted”—the majority want stability in their romance, with 75% saying they want to be in a long-term committed relationship.

2. THEY ARE EATING FAST FOOD.

Millennials have been accused of “killing” many a fast food brand, with 2014 filled with reports of their dining preferences dictating the future of fast food. It is true that young consumers have slowed their restaurant visits, and fast food restaurants have seen a 5% decrease in traffic amongst low income Millennials and a 16% decline from higher-income Millennials over the last seven years. Many chains are realizing that the generation is more interested in brands that invest in ingredients than those that spend on marketing. But the reality is that they ARE still spending on fast-food. According to Ypulse’s most recent spending tracker, on an average day, 33% of 13-32-year-olds spend money on fast food/take out, 23% spend on groceries, and 16% spend on dining out. Their definition of fast food might be in flux, but if brands can give them the products they want, they will spend.

3. THEY’RE INSTAGRAMMING MORE THAN THEY’RE TWEETING. 

That’s right, in Ypulse’s most recent social media tracker, Instagram overtook Twitter, with 52% of 13-32-year-olds saying they use the image-sharing network, compared to 48% who say they use Twitter. When we ask which social networks they actively post content or comment on a daily basis, 33% said Instagram while only 22% said Twitter. This daily use only intensified for teens: 39% of 13-17-year-olds are Instagramming daily, versus 21% who are tweeting. It’s a trend we’ve been watching, and calling out, for some time. Image-based platforms have seen a rapid rise in popularity thanks in part to Millennials’ visual communication tendencies, and marketers will continue to shift their strategies to visual platforms to reach young consumers. 

4. THEIR ONLINE SHOPPING IS RIVALING THEIR IRL SHOPPING.

It’s no secret that young consumers are more open than previous generations to online and mobile shopping, but now their digital spending is rivaling their IRL shopping time. Our March survey revealed that while mass merchandisers top the ranking of the places Millennials and teens have shopped in the last month, online-only stores are a very, very close second with 67% of 13-32-year-olds saying they had shopped online in the last 30 days. Those over 18-years-old were even more likely to have shopped online, with 73% reporting they had made a purchase from an online-only store, compared to 48% of 13-17-year-olds. Local grocery stores came in third on the list, and 33% said they had shopped at national chain stores like JC Penney and Kohl’s. 

5. THEY’RE IGNORING YOUR MOBILE ADS.

Yes, young consumers are hooked to their mobile devices, and brands need to reach them there. But when we ask young consumers which type of advertising they usually ignore or avoid, 63% say online ads, like banner and video ads, and 68% say mobile in-app ads. In other words, digital marketing—you’re doing it wrong. It’s not enough to be where they are, you have to be where they are, and match your message to their behavior. As more brands and platforms clue in to that fact, we’re seeing an evolution of digital marketing and pre-rolls, banner ads, and more are progressing to appeal to young consumers’ mindsets. Meanwhile, while we know for a fact that they are fast-forwarding through commercials whenever they can, only 32% say they try to ignore or avoid TV ads.  

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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