Unique Behaviors and Traits of Millennial Consumers

A few weeks ago, I spent a few days at the inaugural Pivot Conference here in NYC. This conference for brand marketers, which was hosted by Chris Shipley (of DEMO fame), sought to discuss and understand the style, attitudes, technologies, and preferences of the Millennial (18-34 year-old) consumer. The conference agenda is available here, and video from the conference is posted online. I’d specifically recommend the Arianna Huffington keynote from the end of the first day.

During the conference, many of the speakers discussed the unique traits of Millennials (or Gen Yers) that should be considered when developing programs targeted at this audience. To help encourage networking among the attendees, the conference organizers handed out “Millennial Trading Cards” and encouraged participants to assemble the complete deck of cards explaining the following nine unique Millennial traits.

Millennials are…

1.  Skeptical: Millennials are skeptical of authority, politicians, and traditional marketing pitches; yet, they are not burdened with the cynicism of Generation X. A message that rings true may be taken to heart and shared with friends.

2.  Altruistic: Millennials are civic-minded and will volunteer for causes they believe in. They want to make a difference and value careers that serve the greater good. Products and services connected to social causes appeal to Millennials.

3.  Diversity Seekers: Millennials’ social interactions and experiences cross cultural boundaries online and in their daily lives. Possessing an expanded sense of family, Millennials are open-minded on social issues. Many have dated outside their race.

4.  Green: Millennials concern themselves with the health of our planet and believe they can do something about it. Products and services positioned as pro-environment and sustainable connect with Millennials.

5.  Uncensored: Nothing shocks a Millennial. They are comfortable with strong language, using profanity for emphasis, not to offend. Online views of outrageous videos and songs are in the millions.

6.  Idealistic: Millennials are optimistic about the future. Though stressed about social injustice in the world, they believe their generation can make things better. Millennials are applying for Teach for America and The Peace Corps in record numbers.

7.  Crowd-Sourcing: Millennials rely on their friends and peers to validate their choices, be it their local circle or their online contacts, such as Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Crowdsourcing drives their rapid adoption of content and trends, internet memes and must-have technologies.

8.  Multi-Tech Multi-Taskers: Millennials depend on technology to drive all aspects of their lives – work, relationships and leisure. The iPhone is a favorite, allowing Millennials to talk, text, record, browse and play simultaneously.

9.  Experience Driven: Millennials value experience over materialistic goals and treat discovery of cool things as a form of currency, to be shared with friends. Millennials are willing to live a simple, frugal life if it is rich with experience.

See the full deck of Millennial Trading Cards I was able to collect below.

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