2016 is going to be a big year for Millennials.
This is the first year that Millennials are officially the largest demographic group in the United States. According to Forbes and Bloomberg, there are now over 85 million Millennials in this country – which means that this demographic now makes up about 25% of the American population.
Forecasts by the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew show that this rate of growth will not stop anytime soon – particularly due to the current and expected immigration rates.
Long story short, Millennials are the most important consumer base to target, based on sheer numbers. It is important for brands to focus on and understand this group. So, for yet another year in a row, Buzz Marketing Group has amassed its data – from market surveys to sit-down discussions with Millennial trendspotters and trendsetters – to bring you the Top 10 Trends of 2016. Here we go!
It is election year. The last few months of the Presidential nomination have been quite a spectacle, which has encouraged citizens to keep a close eye on the election news. In particular, social media has allowed Millennials and other savvy users to digest tidbits of election news and candidate information, and to voice their own opinions through the Internet megaphone. After all, this past year we saw that 94% feel comfortable discussing their political beliefs and 92% revealed that their friends share political news on social media profiles. As a result, 2016 will see the rise of a more “involved” Millennial – one who stays informed, learns about the candidates, and follows the debates (at least through social media feeds and second-hand information). Meet the “politerate” Millennial.
However, this politeracy has a limit. As we have seen through our past research, Millennials have a strong distrust of institutional forces – including government and particularly the Presidency. After all, less than a quarter of Millennials are currently active in a political group or organization. So Millennials may be vocal about their opinions in order to be informed enough, but it is highly doubtful that this interest will develop into enough passion to push them to the polls on Election Day.
We have seen articles upon articles about how Millennials change the workplace, fail to adapt to the workplace, feel uncomfortable in the workplace, want to switch out of a workplace, etc. But this year, those minor trends are going to be amplified because many Millennials will actually be taking on promotions and upgrading to higher-level positions. This means that the key concern will not be how to manage Millennials, but rather how Millennials themselves will approach leadership. As of now, one-fourth of Millennials are managers – which is causing a shift in corporate leadership and decision-making. Even though it may not be an instantly drastic shift – because these new bosses still have to work within existing corporate structures – it will definitely have an impact on employees and the rest of the organization.
3. Mash-Up Mania
2016 is the year of Mash-Ups. Millennials are moving into and exploring different worlds. This generation is, on the whole, more eager to engage with different cultures, conversations, religions and experiences. Mash-Up Mania is particularly important given the diversity of the American Millennial population. 43% of Millennials identify as non-white and 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. Further, our population has witnessed a 32% growth of those who identify as mixed-race since 2000 (compared with a relatively minor 9% growth of the overall population). Next year, the trend will be particularly apparent in marriages – rising interracial marriages, rising inter-faith marriages, etc.
It’s the new type of activism. Rather than acting, rallying in the streets, and physically protesting, Millennials are instead speaking, participating in discussions (both in-person and virtual), and highlighting voices that illuminate the importance of issues. Critics have often derogatorily referred to this phenomenon as slacker activism or “slacktivism,” implying that these Millennial expressions are not as meaningful as full-out demonstrations. But even though the clicks, shares, tweets, and hashtags take less time, effort, and risk than traditional activism, it is difficult to discount the fact that the aggregation of these voices raise awareness and spark conversations that otherwise may not happen.
This year, we will witness continuing speak-tivism by Millennials who are eager to be involved or seem involved in some shape or form. There are ongoing discussions regarding social concerns, political movements, and economic shifts – and though speak-tivism may not result in a direct, concrete change in 2016, it will keep topics in the limelight… hopefully long enough for some to take charge and take action.
5. Victorious Video
Video is going to be one of the key marketing tools for brands in 2016. Millennials have long been attracted to information in a visual format. Videos are simpler than articles, more engaging than tweets, and more in-depth than infographics – and that is exactly what Millennials are looking for. For instance, Millennials are using more how-to YouTube videos instead of reading how-to Wikis. And in fact, more and more Millennials are turning to brand videos to learn about products and services instead of just company descriptions and user reviews.
The victorious video trend has implications on social media communication as well. This year, we are going to see much more video content on Facebook and Twitter streams – complemented, of course, by video snippets on Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Video is easy to share, and if created and used effectively, easy to consume. It allows for brands to engage more with consumers (and potential consumers), convey much more detail in a short amount of time, and provide imagery, sound, and feel that facilitates brand image.
6. Foodie Fervor
Food is an important aspect of Millennial life. It is not only nourishment, but it is an interest, a form of entertainment, a symbol of trendiness, and even a type of social currency. Although older generations often tire of the “foodie” culture that shines through endless photographs of restaurant meals, home cooked meals, and even just good looking snacks, the Millennial’s foodie fervor goes beyond mere images.
Instead, we have seen slight shifts in Millennials’ diet preferences. Given their status as conscious consumers, it is not surprising that they have become as inquisitive about their food. In 2016, we will see more trends toward conscious eating – Millennials will seek more “healthy” food, defined not by calories but instead by the type of ingredients. There will be more honeygrows and sweetgreens to feed this appetite for fresher and less artificial cuisine (that is also affordable). The demographic will also continue to demand more of their food providers in terms of ethical production, as evidenced by the huge surge in food and drink brand campaigns focused on such social progressiveness.
7. Home Buying
As the economy slowly improves, Millennials are feeling a bit more secure in their financial state as compared to a few years ago. With this increased stability, 2016 will bring an uptick in Millennial home ownership. Although this generation seems to shun, or at least delay, traditional milestones such as marriage, it is becoming more and more financially feasible – and in some cases, even financially attractive based on tax breaks and accrued equity benefits – to buy a home.
This year may not bring the “boom” that many real estate analysts are hoping for, but more Millennials will definitely be scouring the market for a new home. Even after the repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis, 80% of Millennials still view home ownership as part of their American dream. With the increases in pay, in security, and in maturity, many Millennials will finally be able to make that dream a reality.
This is the year of the family-focused father. Millennial dads are stepping up to the plate in the household to split responsibilities with mothers. We are seeing more and more dads helping out at home – particularly as professional women’s lives become busier and busier. We can see certain companies like P&G capitalizing on this movement, evidenced by their recent Tide and Swiffer ads.
This trend is especially apparent when it comes to parenting, as more and more dads are taking the tag-team approach. Studies show that when Millennial men become fathers, they experience a shift in fundamental values and focus more on family, child welfare, and marriage. This leads to more involvement in child rearing – with over 85% regularly playing with their children, 58% frequently attending children’s activities, and almost 60% valuing family before work “all or most of the time.”
9. A La Carte
In 2016, more and more Millennials will cut the cord on commitments that they deem unworthy. We see Millennials passing on cable television in favor of a-la-carte online media options, such as Netflix and AmazonPrime. Though they have always avoided landlines, now they are opting out of cell phone contracts in favor of simpler month-to-month, no-contract plans. Even for larger investments, like a car and subsequent car payments, Millennials prefer car-sharing programs and reliance on Uber and ZipCar.
10. Foolproof Filters
Millennials now recognize that there is way too much information on the Internet. The wealth of knowledge and the instant access to Google and Wikipedia are now a bit too intimidating to the typical information-seeking Millennial. As a result, they are increasingly looking for ways to filter all this data into digestible tidbits. This is particularly apparent in the realm of news consumption, as we see the rise of email newsletters (Daily Beast Cheat Sheet, NextDraft, and TheSkimm) that compile the “most important” news of the day into a quick and dirty summary.
In 2016, brands can develop value if they are able to filter information in a way that helps Millennials in their quest to stay informed. If a brand is able to create enough trust with consumers, then the Millennials will be happy to rely on them for their day-to-day knowledge needs.
- Posted by Shilpa Soundararajan
- On February 2, 2016
- 0 Comments