Millennials aren’t the entitled narcissists older generations might think they are.
According to a new survey from Mintel, Canadian millennials 18-34 view themselves as being accepting and open minded (67%). However, the majority agree that older generations see them as entitled/spoiled (63%) or self-centred/narcissistic (57%).
While millennials think their generation is seen in a negative light, they actually hold similar views of their peers. Nearly half of millennials (48%) believe a “typical” person from the millennial generation is self-centred/narcissistic or entitled/spoiled (48%).
Other characteristics millennials believe they personally possess are hardworking/ambitious (60%) and responsible (57%), while fewer see their peers as hardworking/ambitious (45%) or responsible (19%).
In a report, Mintel notes the popularity of social media trends like selfies and sharing experiences online may be contributing to an environment where millennials feel pitted against each other. And in an era where people constantly see posts of only the best experiences of their peers, “a sense of competition among the generation is fostered and contradictory perceptions between themselves and peers form,” says Carol Wong-Li, senior lifestyles and leisure analyst at Mintel.
Millennials’ positive descriptions of themselves are not unfounded, however. According to the survey, 62% of millennials are primarily responsible for their living expenses, and 23% share living expenses with someone else/others. The majority of millennials are living independently: 39% live with their own nuclear family (spouse and/or children) and 21% live alone. One quarter (25%) of millennials still live with their parents, driven primarily by 18-24 year olds (37%).
“There is this stereotype that millennials are kind of lazy and not hardworking, but the fact that they’re growing up, they are embracing responsibilities, and their values align to those of the boomers: being hardworking and family-oriented,” says Wong-Li.
Millennials’ independence doesn’t come without financial stress: nearly half (48%) of those surveyed feel constantly stressed about their money, well above the average consumer (36%). Additionally, 56% say saving even a little bit of money each month is difficult. However, recent economic conditions have demonstrated the importance of saving for retirement for 70% of millennials.
When it comes to shopping, the top characteristics millennials look for when buying products are quality (65%) and affordability (58%), indicating they place value on both long-term investments and staying within their budget. Despite being budget-conscious, one third (33%) of millennials agree it’s okay to buy things on credit if they really want them.
On the advertising front, the sentiment is overwhelmingly negative. More than two-thirds (68%) agree advertising manipulates people into buying things they don’t really need, and 48% feel overwhelmed by the number of ads they see each day.
“What millennials actually desire is more interaction with brands,” says Wong-Li. “[It could be] humour that connects with them on a personal level, creating experiences or leveraging technology to help them with their shopping experience and answer questions. It’s really in that sense that they’re wanting more personalized attention from brands.”