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New age thinking

How millennials are changing everything


Alexandre Thomas

Associate Director

Kantar Added Value




Paul Chatalic

Project Executive

Kantar Added Value



 They are young and active, they live and consume differently, and they want to take the future of society into their own hands. They are millennials – born between 1985 and 2000 – and no other generation been so scrutinized and analyzed. And for good reason! Their influence in society continues to grow, and they will soon represent half of the working population. Just as Baby Boomers and Generation X made their mark on society, now millennials are directing trends and rewriting their relationship with brands.


Understanding millennials is complex because they have such varied environments, education levels, families and work situations. But what they have in common is their experience of two hugely influential phenomena: digital revolution, and global recession. These have profoundly changed their expectations and their state of mind. A form of prudence and wisdom characterizes this generation, tinged with a mixture of disillusionment and pragmatism. We have identified eight millennial traits that are influencing consumption, communication and innovation.


1. I am connected, therefore I am

The digital revolution has given rise to a near-instinctive desire for connectivity, and the smartphone makes this possible. The distress of the millennial faced with a dying phone battery is clear evidence of this. The advent of new connected realities opens up a field of possibilities for brands that will offer more and more ultra-qualitative content, that is immersive or hyper-contextualized, on new devices.


2. Where I want and when I want

As a direct result of the digital revolution, millennials reject any delay or discomfort in the consumer experience, and their demands intensify as technology advances. The result is two major transformations that will change the deal for brands:

· The consumer’s route to what they want has been simplified. Now the buying experience has to be smooth and, above all, eliminate waiting.

· Communication is being changed to a more visual language, led by images and emoji’s.


3. My uniqueness is my greatest asset

The digital revolution has given millennials the opportunity to express their individuality and they feel free of traditional norms. Half of them even regard gender as a spectrum, beyond the mere distinction between men and women, which would seem unthinkable for older generations. Authenticity, diversity and creativity are at the heart of their decision making. Brands have to help me be me.


4. I’ll buy you if you help me live better

Millennials, more than any other generation, are distinguished by their attention to the consequences of their actions, and by their focus on what they spend. This is not about simply spending less, but spending in a « good » way. While their parents assessed price v quality, they are looking at the impact of a product on their daily life. Given the decreasing emphasis on low prices, brands must adapt the way they build their offers and promotions.

5. Togetherness is everything

Collaboration is at the heart of millennial culture. It is reflected in the development of new modes of shared consumption, and genuine alternatives to the traditional brand-consumer relationship. Information, services rendered, consumer goods donated / loaned / resold / recycled... everything circulates! This peer-to-peer philosophy infuses all categories of consumption, down to the media and content they consume. Use Twitter, YouTube or mass online courses to entertain and inform.

6. Possess less, experience more

Millennials are disillusioned, but not pessimistic. They seek out moments, discoveries, surprises, emotions, sensations... intangible assets rather than possessions. Brands have noticed how much more millennials spend in experiential categories, and investing in developing experiences as well as products and services. They must also reflect on the meaning of these experiences: What values ​​do we want to relay? What’s the bigger picture?

7. Health is decisive

They run, do yoga, replace alcohol with cold-pressed juices, and monitor their health with connected devices. Millennials are passionate about their health and are taking control of it. The acceleration of health discoveries, coupled with the advance of wearables, makes possible a form of assisted proactivity. I manage my wellbeing; I am acting to preserve it.

8. Making the world a better place

Millennials require more corporate responsibility. Almost two-thirds say they are drawn to socially and environmentally responsible brands. Brands must demonstrate their commitments, not just talk about them. It is logical that education and training will play a growing role in brands’ CSR policies.

These are eight ways of living and consuming that we see happening now. But what about tomorrow?

As millennials become parents themselves, and we look at the next generation, centennials, we will see each of these trends grow stronger. Demands on brands will increase.

Three big ideals are bound to develop:

· Increasing the power of the individual

· Sharing more, and sharing better

· Cutting risk, increasing control

No great change happens without major questions arising. Will the omnipotence of hyper-connected individuals turn out to be hyper-dependence? Will we witness confrontation between the needs of brands and those of consumers? As for the need for control, will it paralyze us and kill off the chance of serendipity?