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Truth, Justice and the Millennial Way


Older generations often think of the younger generation as frivolous, fun-lovers who don’t know the meaning of hard work and sacrifice. Ask that younger generation how they see themselves and you’ll get a whole different answer.

The McCann Worldgroup has a new study called “Truth About Youth” and it’s essential reading for anyone marketing to millennials. 7000 young people from around the world were asked questions about what they value in life, how and why they connect with others and how they want to be viewed by others.

The concepts that popped up most often could all be categorized on the same page of the thesaurus: honesty, truth, authenticity, genuine. This crowd can spot a fake without ever looking up from their iPhone and that’s bad for brands who think they can reel them in with hype and hoopla.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Thanks to social media, the concept of “friends” has changed drastically. It’s no longer you and the three others who hang out together on a Friday night. Now it’s you, them, and the fifty people you follow everyday on Facebook or Twitter. Did I say fifty? How about five hundred? According to the report, young people in India are competitive about the number of people they are connected to, while in the UK, too many Facebook friends means you’re desperate. In Singapore, there’s the concept of “disposable friends,” those uninteresting strangers who latch on and become part of your crowd.

Technology as a Fifth Sense

53% of those aged 16-22 and 48% of those aged 23-30 would give up their own sense of smell if it meant they could keep an item of technology (most often their phone or laptop).
Fear of missing out is enough to send a millennial into a panic attack if they’re without a wireless connection for a short period of time. Others report sitting at their computers, refreshing every few seconds to see if anyone has responded to a post they made. This group craves validation (don’t we all. . . ), but not fame. Finding love, personal success and good health made the tops of the global wishlist.

Justice for All

The most interesting concept to come out of the McCann report is the need for justice. I have a millennial in my home and I can tell you that this is true. Millennials are extremely interested in doing right for the world and their friends and they expect that same kind of respect in return. When it comes to brands, they are influenced by a company’s stance on environmental and social issues. When asked which brands have made the biggest difference in their lives, they went with technology — Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

The takeaway here is that brands need to be humble, truthful and forward thinking if they want to grab hold of the next generation. The good news is that if you give them the knowledge and tools that allow them to create something amazing, they’ll do your job for you.