Getting to Know the Millennials

The Pew Research Center just released a fascinating, exhaustive (149 pages) study of millennials, ages 18 to 29. Called Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change, it began in 2006 with a survey conducted in association with the PBS documentary series “Generation Next.” This generation, of course, is what many direct marketers are targeting, and it’s an elusive bunch. Millennials made their “passage into adulthood at the start of the new millennium” and are, overall, “confident, liberal, upbeat and open to change.” Some of this flies in the face of the dour economy and indicates that most millennials believe it will improve.

Here are some other glimpses of who they exactly are:

1. More Ethnically and Racially Diverse Than Older Adults
Based on the December 2009 Current Population Survey, millennials are made up of more African-Americans (14 percent) and Hispanics (19 percent) than are American adults ages 30 and older (11 percent and 13 percent, respectfully). Meanwhile, whites have sunk from 70 percent among age 30 and over to 61 percent among millennials.

They’re also “less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.”

2. They’re Also Known as iGen … as in Always Connected
“Steeped in digital technology and social media, they treat their multi-tasking hand-held gadgets almost like a body part—for better and worse.” In fact, more than 80 percent report sleeping with their cell phones next to their beds. No wonder mobile marketing is expected to grow by leaps and bounds, especially with iPhones and other smartphones increasingly replacing the standard cell phone among millennials.

Forty-one percent of millennials use cell phones rather than landlines. Goodbye telemarketing. For Gen X, it’s 24 percent. For boomers, it’s only 13 percent. And for seniors (those 65 and older), it’s a measly 1 percent.

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