What the youngest millennials care about

New research from Zeno Group reveals how 14- to 25-year-olds view the world.


The word “millennial” is probably keeping a lot of folks up at night. But part of the challenge is understanding what drives the hard-to-pin-down demo with an aversion to paying for content and a tendency to shun the choices of previous generations.

It may help to break the demo down into a group with identifiable characteristics. That’s what Toronto-based global communications agency Zeno Group set out to do by sharing its research on millennials between the ages of 14 and 25 across six countries, including Canada. Despite differences in culture, geography, language and history, the findings show that millennials across that divide are quite similar, leaning towards democratic decision-making, being inclusive at home and at work and believing that they practice some aspect of Gandhian thought (“be the change you want to see”).

The findings are based on proprietary data and are part of its research, titled “The Human Project.” That project was launched in 2014 and gives marketers insights into different demos each year to expand their brand-advocacy capabilities.

Therese Caruso, managing director, global strategy and insights at the Zeno Group, says this is the first time in history that young generations have wielded so much influence. “They are shaping the global conversation and workplace of the future. The only way for brands to connect is to act like a best friend – the values young people assign to their deepest relationships are the same values they want to see in brands.”

The study was conducted in partnership with CEB Iconoculture, a U.S.-based forecasting group, and surveyed 5,000 men and women across India, China, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Canada and further divided them into Gen WE (those aged 14 to 20) and Gen Z (those aged 21 to 25).

The results show that both groups are more socially driven, self-aware and global in their outlook than any generation before them.

The project identified “seven global truths” about the two groups profiled.

A brand called meFor one, the group is far more democratic, with 78% of parents in the group saying that they involve children in family decision-making. Those surveyed across the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia shared that they value equality (and collaborative work) over leadership, marking equality at #2 on a scale of 92 values compared to top-down leadership, which they valued at #65.

Also millennials care about issues. They’re more likely to be friends with someone who shares their view on physician-assisted death, for example, than on building a friendship with their next door neighbour. They also care less about peer pressure.

The study also reveals that this demo hasn’t got its head stuck in a technology zone. Instead, global youth surveyed agreed that technology is a powerful and supportive tool but needs to be used in moderation.

A fifth insight is that this demo won’t be following the Atkins Diet. Rejecting traditional tendencies towards diets, this demo believes in all-round health and wellness.

Success is not the end-game, says the sixth nugget of wisdom. While Chinese and Indian youth rate purpose as the highest part of a happiness equation composed of balance, success and purpose, Canadian, Australian, American and British participants rated purpose a little lower in their happiness formula.

Finally, this demo cares about brand “me” and will affiliate itself with brands that earn its trust. To engage with this group brands will have to understand how they think and what they want out of life.

From Media in Canada