Millennials Are a More Complex Demographic Than We Realize

New data from ShareThis demonstrates how nuanced the millennial generation is -- and why they're both a marketer's dream and a challenge.

What happens when you search stock photos for "millennials?" Selfies. Lots of selfies.
What happens when you search stock photos for “millennials?” Selfies. Lots of selfies.
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Though they don’t get enough credit for it, the millennial generation is more complex than most seem to realize. Despite the common misconception that they’re “disaffiliated,” ShareThis data indicates that millennials are more engaged with politics online that any other generation. Their data also demonstrates just how nuanced the demographic is.

The current definition of a millennial is someone “born sometime between the early 80’s and late 90’s,” according to ShareThis. This doesn’t give us nearly enough insight into a complex and diverse group. Based on just the metric of race, millennials are the most diverse generation yet.

Sixteen percent of millennials are Hispanic, 12 percent are Black and 11 percent identify as other. Twenty-four percent of millennials have college degrees, and 35 percent of millennial households have children. Given these factors alone, it’s very difficult to define or market to millennials as a monolith.

When breaking down the data for Hispanic millennials, ShareThis found that they’re more likely to have interests in common with peers in their age group than they are to have commonalities with their wider racial group. In fact, Hispanic millennials are more than twice as likely to have a common interest in business or politics with their non-Hispanic peers.

Even within the two broad age brackets — 18 to 25 and 26 to 34 — there are varying levels of interest between topics. Younger millennials are more interested in arts and entertainment, food and drink, and technology. Older millennials have greater interests in culture and religion, family and parenting, and travel and leisure.

Thinking of the millennial generation as a single entity doesn’t work from a marketing standpoint. Advertising travel products to a 30-year-old suburban mother of two the same way you advertise them to a 18-year-old male from the city is poor targeting. Imagine the millennial generation as more complex than ever before, because that’s how it’s developing.