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There are 75.4 million Millennials in the US, making them the largest living generation and the largest generation in the labor force. But who are they?

The strict definition of a Millennial is someone who was born between 1981 and 1996. They were raised with technology (using computers as early as grade school) so it’s no surprise that they are tech-savvy; they are efficient, valuing work-life balance and time with their families; and they are achievement oriented and they want to make a difference beyond their workday. 

When it comes to buying, they care about more than the price— they care about a company’s core values. That’s important because Millennials are responsible for $1.4 trillion in annual buying power. Just like Millennials have different professional priorities and personal goals than their parents did, they spend their money differently. 

What Is the Millennial market?

Millennials have a reputation for being broke. That’s kind of true. 

American Millennials are financially behind compared to Generation X and Baby Boomer generations for a few reasons. These include student debt, a higher cost of living, and the financial crisis that limited well-paying jobs upon graduation. 

Nonetheless, Millennials are educated. 

39 percent of Millennials have a bachelor’s degree or higher. But, while Millennials tend to have more education than their grandparents, they have loans to show for it.  In 2019, student-loan debt reached $1.5 trillion, with the graduating class of 2018 owing an average of $29,800. 

While that kind of education debt is a burden, no doubt, an education makes a difference in Millennial earning power.  

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018, Millennials who had earned a bachelor’s degree earned $56,000 on average.  That is a stark contrast to Millennials with only some college education who reported earning nearly $20,000 less on average. For many, that’s the difference of being able to afford a house, a family, and other milestone expenses. 

Millennials aren’t just strapped by debt. The incomes offered by available jobs haven’t kept up with the cost of living. While there has been a 67 percent growth in income, according to Student Loan Hero, it isn’t keeping pace with the cost of living. 

Nonetheless, Millennials are spending, and spending differently. Just like they want more out of their work than hours logged, they want more out of their spending than a good deal.  

Why Invest in the Millennial Market?

Millennials are more interested than ever about what they are consuming. From food, to cosmetics, to cleaning supplies— a Millennial might naturally ask, what’s in it? Approximately 41 percent of Americans intentionally seek out products with the clean label designation. Nearly half of these 41 percent are under the age of 35. 

This is particularly true for food products. Millennials tend to have an interest in eating fresher and more naturally. Case in point: Millennials are the largest group of organic shoppers. This trend is particularly true for Millennials who have children. 

If you consider that farm-to-table products and convenience meet harmoniously in many meal kit delivery boxes, you then won’t be surprised to learn that Millennials are also more likely than any other demographic to order meal kit services.  

Millennials also like to eat out, less at places like McDonalds and more for new and unique experiences. According to the 2018 US Consumer Expenditure Survey from the US Department of Labor, Millennials spent 47 percent of their food budget on food away from home, more than all other groups. Even before the pandemic, 67 percent of millennials were more likely to choose a restaurant that delivered.

When it comes to food and drink, higher quality overrides price. (One study even finds that Millennials spend more on craft beer than their cell phone and utility bills!) 

In the same way Millennials want to know more about what’s in their food, they want to know more about, well…everything they do, and why. Often, they do this on their phones. 96 percent of Americans under age 29 own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. In the past year, 64 percent of Millennials paid to download at least one app, and approximately 20 percent of those sought to purchase an app monthly. They are willing to share their information (in safe and secure digital platforms) in order to use innovative and convenient services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb; meal delivery platforms like GrubHub; subscription services and more. 

They also do a lot of online shopping from their phones. According to one study, 35 percent of Millennials reported that they can’t live without Amazon, only to be followed by Gmail (30 percent) and Facebook (29 percent).

Millennials are leading the adoption of wearable technology that tracks trends and gives feedback. (Millennials love feedback!) In other words, they are trying to do things a bit smarter than they could without the data tech offers. 

Beyond eating better and self-improvement, Millennials have taken their videogame habits into adulthood. Millennials grew up with videogames, and so it should be no surprise that two in three Millennials in the US play video games every month. 

They also like watching other people play video games— driving the eSports industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer is 34 years old — or, a Millennial. In 2020, the global video gaming industry saw $180 billion in spending, topping sports and movies globally.  

When it comes to work, even before the pandemic, Millennials liked working from home. They like flexibility and efficiency, and they are tech-savvy enough to avoid the need for a printer and opt for document sharing on the cloud, instead. 

Millennials might be at a disadvantage financially, but they shouldn’t be discounted. They are willing to spend more on better quality, rather than seek out the best deal. As they do things in more data-driven ways, they will lead the adoption of the next wave of technologies.


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