Millennials make up more than half the world’s population and they have enormous potential spending power so its important for global brands to understand what makes them tick, says Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer of Noise/The Intelligence Group, which recently released its first-ever global Cassandra Report that gleaned insights into millennial attitudes toward brands, connectivity, purchasing, family and career.
Previous Cassandra Reports have studied U.S. millennials but this latest research gathered insights from millennials, ages 18-34, not only in the U.S. but also in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and the U.K.
“It is critical for today’s marketers to understand how to speak to them in an impactful way,” Gutfreund says, adding that, “this digital-networked demographic stands to alter or disrupt every sector, from travel to retail to food and entertainment.”
Among some general insights the report found:
• Global millennials are three times as likely to wear socially conscious brands over luxury brands.
• Four in 10 millennials are willing to pay more for products and brands that are eco-friendly.
• More than 50% say it’s important that brands be transparent about their business practices.
• 38% prefer to communicate with pictures instead of words, hence the growing popularity of visual platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat.
• Global millennials define success by how generally happy they are rather than by how much they love their job or the amount of money they earn.
• 86% of millennials would choose health over wealth.
• Only one in 3 think they will be better off than their parents.
The report found the greatest number of millennials who would wear a socially conscious brand over a luxury brand is in the U.K., where 34% of those polled said they would do it. Next in order were millennials in South Korea and South Africa (31% each); Germany (29%); India (27%); the U.S. (25%); China (24%); Spain (21%); Brazil (19%); and Italy (18%). Overall, 76% said they would wear a socially conscious brand over a luxury brand.
The most eco-friendly millennial consumers are found in China, where 65% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay a little more for products or brands that are eco-friendly. Sixty percent of millennials in India said they would be willing to pay more, followed by 39% in Spain, 38% in South Africa, 37% in Brazil, 34% in the U.S., 32% in Germany, 31% in both Italy and South Korea, and 25% in the U.K.
Millennials most concerned about brand transparency are found in India, where 72% said it is “very important” or “somewhat important” for companies to operate this way. Next are millennials from Brazil (71%), followed by those in China (66%), Spain (60%), South Africa (59%), the U.S. (57%); Italy (56%); the U.K. (53%), Germany (44%); and South Korea (35%).
Millennials in India (83%), Brazil (80%), and China (74%) also find it most important for companies to ask consumers for feedback or advice. Some 61% of U.S. millennials feel that way.
While much is written about how frequently U.S. millennials use social media platforms that rely heavily on pictures, American millennials fall in the middle of the pack among global millennials when they have to choose whether communicating by text or pictures is more important.
Millennials in Italy, according to the report, favor communicating on social media platforms that more heavily use pictures, with 56% choosing that method over text-based social platforms. Meanwhile, 43% of millennial in India favor communicating via social media picture platforms. In China and Spain it’s 40%; followed by the U.S. (37%), the U.K. (35%); South Africa and Germany (34%); Brazil (30%); and South Korea (29%).
What products are global millennials most likely to splurge on? The report finds that clothing was selected by 48% of those surveyed, followed by electronics and technology products (46%), restaurants (39%), vacation and travel (39%), shoes and footwear (36%), groceries and produce (31%) and live events (24%).
Millennials country by country were asked what brands they think most represent their generation. The Top 5 among U.S. millennials were Apple, Nike, Google, Facebook and Toms. The Top 5 among each of the other countries were:
• Brazil—Nike, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola, Samsung
• South Africa—Nike, Samsung, Apple, Coca-Cola, Adidas
• India—Nike, Samsung, Levi’s, Puma, Adidas
• China—Apple, Nike, Li Ning, Chanel, Google
• South Korea—Samsung, Apple, Nike, Uniqlo, Adidas
• UK—Apple, Nike, Facebook, Adidas, Coca-Cola
• Germany—Nike, Apple, Adidas, H&M, Samsung
• Spain—Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Adidas, Desigual
• Italy—Apple, Nike, Samsung, Coca-Cola, H&M
What types of brand ad campaigns do millennials favor? The survey found 55% said they like to see ad campaigns targeted specifically to their country, while 45% said they like ads that are globally focused. Breaking it down by country: South Korea (69% favor locally-targeted campaigns); U.K. (68%); U.S. (57%); Italy (57%); South Africa (56%); Germany (56%); Brazil (55%); Spain (50%); China (43%); and India (42%).
Globally, 80% of millennials feel the Internet helps them feel connected to other countries. In India and China, 91% of millennials polled feel that way, while in the U.S., 78% of millennials believe that. In terms of world events, 85% of global millennials agree that world events help them feel connected to people or cultures of other countries. Music was selected by 84% as helping them feel connected with other countries, while 82% said entertainment events and 80% said sporting events.
Overall, 48% of global millennials said they like to celebrate or recognize holidays and traditions from other countries like Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year or the Fourth of July. In the U.S., 64% of millennials said this is enjoyable for them and that tied with millennials from China as the countries where millennials feel strongest.
As far as worldwide concerns, 83% of millennials listed the environment, with 82% mentioning unemployment and violence, 81% for poverty and the economy and 80% for education.
Overall, 86% of global millennials choose health over wealth with the highest percentage (94%) feeling that way being millennials from Brazil. U.S. millennials, with 85% choosing health over wealth, ranked eighth among the 10 countries with only South Africa and South Korea below them.
Global millennials are mostly happy, with 68% saying they are. However, only 49% are happy with their marriages or relationships; 32% are happy with their jobs, 30% are happy with their finances and only 19% believe they have enough free time.
Among U.S. millennials, only 24% are where they expected to be in their career at this stage of their lives, but that ranks third-highest among the 10 countries. Also among U.S. millennials, 23% are satisfied with where they are in their careers, and that ranks them fifth among the 10 countries.
As far as Internet privacy concerns go, 60% of millennials in Brazil worry about how much information other people can see about them online, the highest among the 10 countries. Millennials in the U.S. are right in the middle, with 43% having those concerns.