What we learned from Millennial month at Abacus Data – Gen Y Wants Options

After a month of sharing some of our research highlights and personal insights on the Millennial generation, we’ve pulled one common theme that people should know about this generation.

The Millennial generation in Canada wants options.

Millennials are seeking to carve our own unique paths in this world. In doing so, we expect and seek out different options when it comes to products, policy, communication and education. Whether we were talking to indigenous Canadians who are looking for access to education options, young voters calling for an online voting booth, young families seeking financial management, or new entrepreneurs explaining their work-life blending the Millennials see the world in a different way than those that have come before them.

Previous summaries have said that Gen Y is more materialistic, less willing to work, more tech-savvy or entitled. And while we all know people in this age group who do match these descriptions, we certainly know many who do not.  

Millennial optionsAfter studying this generation across disciplines; from the perspective of consumer research and public affairs, we have decided that as a generation we increasingly have more options. This is the word (options) that should come to mind when we develop strategies for approaching and appealing to the Millennial generation.

In a roundabout way, this is what Don Tapscott talks about in his original work on the Net generation, or “Digital Natives” who easily adapted to learn new technologies. Tapscott said that what sets us Millennials apart is that we are able to adapt to new things easily. We are able to see the options we have and tackle problems and decisions head on. We agree, and as Tapscott understands, our unique application of online social communications practices extends to other areas of our lives too.

Today the Millennials seek customizable products and alternative forms of education (MOOCs, Open courseware, YouTube, and expanded access to higher education). We have the option to get our news however we want, through new media or traditional newspapers (free, paid, through direct contact on email or twitter or behind a wall of anonymity). Millennials are filling spaces in traditional offices, working from home, starting their own business or creating their own ideas. We’re shopping in-store or online; spending money on big brands or shopping vintage. We’re buying homes in the suburbs or renting downtown, starting our own families or staying at home with our parents.

Growing up, we were promised we could have everything if we just worked hard and participated (see more from Heather Payne’s interview where we discussed Millennial promises). Even though it may not be just that simple we are still looking broadly at the possibilities as opportunities. Not just in the job market, but in the products we buy and in the way we communicate, learn and interact with others.

The important thing to remember is that with options come decisions.

Millennials grew up developing a superior ability to sort through a massive amount of information, mostly because they had to. With that in mind, the Millennials still face a huge number of options every day. To get at their decision-making behaviours to see which direction the Millennials will go you need to understand their behaviour and routines. We are the options generation; not the randomness generation. These ideas and expectations come from somewhere and are headed somewhere, it is up to marketers and policy makers to pay attention and prepare accordingly.

Our research has found patterns within the generation itself. There are groups of influencers who adopt early technologies and liberal ideas before any others. There are identifiable segment groups within the population that are likely to trend toward buying a home in the suburbs, attending post-secondary education, and those who will enroll in a yoga class.

Segmentation of the Millennial generation helps organizations to understand their target better and to create options and anticipate Millennial decisions.

Want to learn more about our Abacus Data segmentation the Ysegments? Check out canadianmillennials.ca

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Jaime is an Analyst at Abacus Data and a thought leader for its Canadian Millennials research practice.

Contact Jaime Morrison:

T: 613-232-2806

E: jaime@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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