Millennials Differ from Other Demographics in their Digital, Social Habits

A new study provides information on a range of digital and social habits of American Millennials, as well as their attitudes in the areas of cause marketing, grocery, restaurants, apparel and travel. 

Barkley, one of the largest U.S. independent marketing agencies, in partnership with Service Management Group and the Boston Consulting Group, released findings from a groundbreaking study called, "American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation," based on a survey of more than 5,000 respondents and 3.9 million data points.

"Since the Millennials generation is larger than the baby boomers and three times bigger than Generation X, marketers' understanding of Millennials' needs, tastes and behaviors will clearly shape current and future business decisions," said Jeff Fromm, Barkley's senior vice president.


Millennials, compared to other generations, reported greater awareness of newer, youth-​oriented cause marketing campaigns such as Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty (33% vs. 21%) or Gap RED (26% vs. 9%). They report greater exposure to campaigns through social media (40% vs. 22%) and online news (28% vs. 22%), while non-​Millennials rely on newspapers and direct mail.

Millennials appear to have substituted television and print media for the increased online activity and media consumption. Millennials watch significantly less TV than non-​Millennials. Fewer Millennials report watching 20-​plus hours/​week (26% vs. 49%). When they are not watching live TV, Millennials are much more likely to watch shows mainly on their laptops (42% vs. 18%), with DVR (40% vs. 36%), or on demand (26% vs. 18%).


Perhaps because of their need to share and to find commonalities, 70% of Millennials reported feeling more excited when their friends agreed with them about where to shop, eat and play. Only 48% of older adults were as heavily influenced by their friends and colleagues. Additionally, Millennials gather information on products and services from more channels. More Millennials than non-​Millennials reported using a mobile device while shopping to research products (50% vs. 21%).

While the majority of all respondents shop alone (60% Millennials, 69% non- Millennials), Millennials are more likely to shop for groceries with others vs. non-​Millennials. Plus, Millennials report more shopping than non-​Millennials with family unit, spouse and children (13% vs. 6%), and with adult friends (4% vs. 2%).


Millennials seek a broader range of activities, think globally and report a greater desire to travel.  Not only do Millennials report a desire for adventure, but they also think life should be fun. Whether shopping, dining out or immersed in their mobile devices, Millennials prefer the music turned up and a casual atmosphere.

Millennials accounted for 18% of their monthly restaurant spend in the fast-​casual format, compared to only 13% for non-​Millennials. Additionally, Millennials crave snacking opportunities, and are more than twice as likely as older people to seek them out mid-​morning, mid-​afternoon and late at night.

[Source:  "American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation."  Barkley/​Service Management Group and the Boston Consulting Group.  22 Aug. 2011.  Web.  26 Aug. 2011.]