Analysis & Opinion

The rise of the millennials: a recalibration of success

November 11, 2009 MullenLowe

Millennials RisingAs Millennials migrate into adulthood, they’re embarking on a quest that’s defined by their financial, progressive and socially-conscious ideals. Today, these early Millennial careerists are anxious about the state of the economy – and feeling more pressure to succeed. However, what we’ve found is that despite the potential for economic disillusionment, Millennials are optimistic about achieving their life goals. What’s different is how they define success:

Success is incremental, righteous and calculated – Born into an era of over-scheduling and behavioral structure, Millennials believe they’re less likely to be on a fast track. They view the path to achieving their goals as a more calculated effort that begins with – attending “the right college,” living in “the right location,” getting “the right” job, and identifying with “the right set of values.”

They’re responsibly free to achieve – Unlike their Boomer parents who were more uninhibited and carefree, Millennials have a desire for freedom that’s more balanced with a sense of responsibility. For Millennials, achieving freedom doesn’t include the option to “drop out” or “take risks” – for them, the freedom to succeed is aligned with an entitled sense of purpose and the power of individual choice to become whatever they want to be.

Intangibly driven by the greater good — In contrast to the dog-eat-dog Gen X’ers that came before, Millennials are more “we-driven” and collective in their definition of success. For them, “making it” doesn’t simply equate to the tangible rewards of a luxury car, or owning a McMansion. Success is more likely to be defined by sampling a rich array of life experiences – including culture, travel, innovation, sustainability and the environment.

Growing their personal currency – Millennials are looking to make their mark on the world and work towards enhancing their net-worth and self-worth. To them, money is more likely to be the means than the end. They recognize financial security yields opportunity, and thus, take an active interest in financial strategy. They’re looking to take control of their finances, and meet their financial goals – so they can become “enriched” in a broader sense.

Implications for marketers:

1. Deliver M-power: Millennials embrace brands that help nurture their dreams and build confidence along the road to success.
2. App-rehend them: Build smart-phone applications that provide them with the ability to achieve quick wins and be more productive.
3. Get digi-with-it: To intercept Millennials, a brand needs to hang out in the spaces where they virtually spend their time online – creating user generated content, viewing online video, chatting or social networking.
4. Be a belief symbol: Millennials are more likely to seek out a relationship with a brand that promotes and connects with their values, rather than brands that just promote an image of status.