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    Millennials: Fact vs. Fiction

    Single-store convenience retailers need to court this generation for future growth.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News

    Millennials are narcissistic. Millennials are broke. Millennials are frivolous spenders.

    These are just a few of the misconceptions that retailers and marketers have about the generation of Americans born roughly between 1977 and 1995, and accounting for about 24 percent of the current U.S. population. According to a new study by Nielsen, Millennials may be many things, but they behave and shop differently than how most expect.

    In a report entitled Millennials: Breaking the Myths, Nielsen calls Millennials the social generation. “They’re the founders of the social media movement — constantly connected to their social circles via online and mobile,” the report states. “They prefer to live in dense, diverse, urban villages where social interaction is just outside their front doors.”

    Millennials “value authenticity and creativity, and they buy local goods made by members of their communities,” the report continues. “They care about their families, friends and philanthropic causes. But they’re also coming of age in the most dire economic climate since the Great Depression, making their families, communities and social networks even more valuable as they band together.”

    The Nielsen study purports to dispel myths about this generation and explores what makes Millennials unique. The report reveals these key findings about Millennials:

    • They are diverse, expressive and optimistic. Millennials are characterized by more than just their age. As a group, they’re more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation. They value self-expression and artistic pursuits.
    • Millennials care about self-expression, but they aren’t totally self-absorbed. They put importance on taking care of their parents in old age and on making a social impact.
    • While Millennials have been hit hard by the recession, they also make up a larger percentage of those with $2 million or more in assets than Generation X.
    • Millennials are bigger deal/discount shoppers than any other generation.
    • Millennials are connected and want the personal touch. Technology defines Millennials. They sleep with their mobile phones and post status updates from the bathroom. When interacting with companies via social media, they value authenticity — they want to feel like they have a personal, direct interaction with the brand — and in return, they’ll advocate and endorse that brand.

    The Nielsen report provides a thought-provoking overview of this important generation.

    By Don Longo, Convenience Store News
    • About Don Longo Don Longo is editorial director of EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News. He has covered retailing for more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. Previously, he spearheaded the editorial efforts at a variety of business publications focused on mass, drug, grocery and specialty store retailing. Convenience Store News won American Business Media’s Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Issue of the Year in 2008 and 2012. Longo has won numerous other editorial awards over his career and is frequently quoted in the national and local news media on the subjects of retailing and consumer trends.

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