Opinion

5 millennial myths and 6 personality traits your business should be aware of

7 min read

29 July 2015

Former deputy editor

It's generally thought that all young people are the same, but research from IRI shows that not all of them aspire to be like the Kardashian family. In fact, business leaders should be aware that millennials can be separated into six different categories.

The likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and the Kardashian family have done little to act as shining beacons of light for today’s millennials.

Of course, they’re celebrities, but looking closer to home you only have to consider the Brits abroad mentality and chav culture to understand why older people are only too happy to generalise.

In order to determine the difference between fact and fiction, media analytics firm IRI has detailed the rise of the millennials and outlined just how important they can be for businesses – whether that’s as a worker or customer.

While the data has been gathered on millennials in the US, it can certainly be a factor to consider for any British company that fails to recognise how UK counterparts can be nurtured.

For example, it’s already been proven that employers across Britain believe money is the only motivational tool for the country’s youth, when what more than half really desire is the chance to work on exciting projects. Elsewhere, others fancy flexible working time to support a better work-life balance and others want a clear career path.

Robert Tomei, president, consumer & shopper marketing, IRI, said: “At 79 million strong, the millennial generation has a tremendous amount of spending power that is growing rapidly. This is the largest generation of young people since the baby boomers.

“For instance, marketers can leverage a full understanding about millennials’ needs to drive their product innovation strategy, improve the allocation of their media spend and enhance the alignment of their marketing and sales programmes.”

In an attempt to break down stereotypes, IRI found the top five myths about the demographic include:

1. They’re self-absorbed

Actually, 90 per cent of young people believe success is being a good friend. Say hello to your new team player.

2. They’re untraditional

It turns out 73 per cent are employed and 28 per cent are married. However, things have changed in today’s world as people become more career-driven, and indeed keener to live life and see the world, which sets the way for tradition and its timing to have a very different meaning in years to come.

3. They’re mobile addicts

Millennials are undeniably comfortable with tech as digital natives, but 48 per cent said they could function without their smartphones. It’s not all bad though, having super-connected team members keeping an eye on the activity of rivals could be an asset. From a consumer point of view, 45 per cent are early adopters of new tech and 29 per cent shop via apps.

4. They’re disloyal

They are loyal, but only to the chosen ones. That means, only worthy brands will manage to retain their custom. At 52 per cent, more than half will choose decent quality over price. Imagine how an employer could benefit from showing that same loyalty – HotelTonight is a perfect example of how to retain staff.

5. Traditional marketing is pointless

Sure, millennials can be persuaded by social media and blogs. That said, data found two-thirds will respond to loyalty cards and discounts – a very traditional concept.

Read more on millennials:


British beauty blogger Zoe Sugg – known to her 3.5m Twitter followers as Zoella – was actually a trigger for one business’ venture. In March, she was the catalyst as mobile services provider Acision embraced her tutorial-style method and launched a new platform to provide internal training between staff at third-party firms.

Elsewhere we’ve seen Facebook, Pepsi Max and River Island team to find Britain’s brightest budding retail entrepreneurs. Indeed, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a millennial aged just 31, is an inspiration for many students to start their own enterprises.

With all of this in mind, here is what IRI found about the six unique faces of millennials:

1. Free Spirits

13 per cent of millennials are young, single, college-educated trendsetters who are impulsive and social.

2. Struggling Wanderers

21 per cent are not highly educated, are struggling financially and are not strongly digitally connected.

3. New Traditionalists

22 per cent are educated, affluent millennials who are married, are values-driven and have good financial habits.

4. Concerned Aspirationalists

13 per cent are moms who are both cash and time-strapped. They are social media devotees and are convenience and price-driven.

5. Conscious Naturalists

15 per cent are eco-conscious mothers who desire minimally processed foods and prefer locally grown. They also are less digitally reliant and are fiscally cautious.

6. Confident Connectors

17 per cent are ethnically diverse, socially conscious leaders who are digitally-savvy and shop in specialty stores.

Tomei added that millennials are racially diverse and highly educated, noting that there is no straight line. And if history has revealed anything, staying on just one path can be a recipe for disaster for a business.

Hayley Conick, country manager of online workplace Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), said: “Many millennials feel they have been overlooked and their skills undervalued by traditional employers. Far from just accepting this, their response is to strike out on their own, taking advantage of the online world of work where they can offer their skills to multiple organisations around the world.”