More evidence that millennials aren’t as tech-obsessed as marketers might think. Among key findings for researchers in the 2019 Millennial Impact Report, which includes data analysis from 10 years of studies on millennials and causes, is the role of technology in the lives of millennials and how they leverage technology to engage in causes and activism.
A surprising insight for researchers?
“I think I anticipated a more digital world,” says Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher for the Millennial Impact Project. “You have to remember that when we started the Millennial Impact Report, it was 2007-08, and social platforms were starting up but did not have the participation that have now. We were kind of waiting to see whether or not these platforms on the digital side would supersede the in-person activism, and it never really happened. What we actually found is that they were more complementary—millennials were not using platforms or social or technology to replace in-person but rather to supplement and enhance what they were doing in the offline world.”
More Insights From the Millennial Impact Report:
- 10 Years of Data on Millennials and Causes: How Brands Fit In
- How Brands ‘Win with Millennials’ and More: Six Things Marketers Have Said
Millennials as a cohort are getting older, rising in their careers, starting families and, in general, taking on adult responsibilities. But the study’s findings show that causes continue to play an important role in their lives as they age. According to Feldmann, the data shows that millennials’ involvement in causes does rise and dip through their late 20s and early 30s, a trend that’s directly related to lifecycle changes like taking on management roles in their jobs or having a dependent, like a domestic partner or child.
“We start to see participation go through peaks and valleys, in a way, and we do see that social participation in causes dips down, but then there’s this sort of shift back up as they figure out how to manage the responsibilities within that lifecycle,” Feldmann says.
Another key insight: Millennials want to be hands on, however small the contribution, because they know those efforts add up. They want to collaborate, they want brands to collaborate with them, and with other entities, they’re not as convinced by one-off campaigns, and they want causes to be part of the corporate ethos. For brands, that means deciding whether to go “all in” for a cause.
“You have to first decide why a social issue is important for your brand to be a part of. Once you figure out that part, you have to then decide if you want to play a leading role in that issue, if you want to just be at the table or if you want to help organize and bring your consumers to the table,” Feldmann says. “The real question now is, how does the company work side-by-side with young people and say this is an issue we find important and we’re going to tell you the importance and leverage all of our assets, including our relationships, and have you work hand-in-hand with us because this is important to both of us.”