Who are the Millennials? Aside from being born in the 1980s and 1990s, they comprise a generation that continues to elude a neat definition. With the popularity of HBO’s Girls, in which Lena Dunham’s character thinks she’s the voice of this new generation (“Or at least a voice. Of a generation.”), Millennials have come under renewed focus in the media, among the literati, and in the boardrooms of marketers trying to pinpoint what this demographic wants.
A few ways Millennials are being described:
1. They’re spendthrifts…
Studies show that Millennials are more likely than their elders to spend big, “especially on new technologies,” says Julie Halpert at The Fiscal Times. These studies say Millennials are addicted to instant gratification, and view new gadgets as needs, not wants. Millennials are also “the fastest-growing demographic of those who purchase luxury goods,” says Rachel Krause at The Frisky.
2. …And they’re broke
A new survey shows that 25 percent of Millennials “reported not having enough money to cover their basic needs,” a much higher percentage than older generations, says Corilyn Shropshire at Business Insider. Millennials have been hit hard by the recession, and are weighed down by ever-growing mountains of student debt. “The lack of financial savvy among Millennials could have a trickle-down effect with detrimental consequences for society,” says Hadley Malcom at USA Today.
3. They’re natural entrepreneurs
Call it “Generation Sell” — Millennials are less inclined to join a commune or a movement, and would rather start a small business, says William Deresiewicz at The New York Times. Brought up in the “heroic age of dot-com entrepreneurship” that defined the 1990s, and distrustful of “large organizations, including government,” the Millennial views small business as “the idealized social form of our time.”
4. They’re socialists
Looks like the “right-wing cries of ‘socialist takeover!’ may be based in more than paranoia,” says Nona Willis Aronowitz at Good. Polls show that 49 percent of Millennials “view socialism in a favorable light,” compared with 43 percent who view it unfavorably. Millennials are also the generation of Occupy Wall Street, the anti-corporate movement, and “it’s not hard to figure out why our generation isn’t so gung-ho about capitalism — it has disappointed and, in some cases, straight-up failed us.”
Narcissistic, broke, and 6 other ways to describe the Millennial generation