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According to The Futures Company Millennial optimism is a myth Global study finds optimism to be a correlate of youth rather than a defining generational trait 23 February 2011 An analysis of global data from The Futures Company’s Global MONITOR study finds that optimism about the future, while true of today’s youthful Millennials, is not a unique, distinguishing generational characteristic but rather the typical enthusiasm of youth that appears already to be dimming with age as responsibilities mount and reality sets in, just as it has for all generations as they have matured. This finding by The Futures Company sets straight one of several myths about Millennials that are busted in a report to be released on March 14 entitled, “Unmasking Millennials: The Truth Behind a Misunderstood Generation.” Indepth generational data collected from 27,000 respondents worldwide provides The Futures Company with a comprehensive database for assessing the attitudes, ambitions and marketing opportunities associated with all generational cohorts worldwide, particularly Millennials. Report co-author Yannis Kavounis, Director of Insights & Innovation in the London headquarters, noted, “Perceptions of Millennials have been distorted by years of hype and poorly analyzed generational data. The Futures Company has been an expert in generational analysis for decades and we felt it was time to help set the record straight on this global generation of Millennials, starting with the received wisdom about optimism.” For its assessment of the oft-mentioned optimism of Millennials, The Futures Company employed an analysis to distinguish attitudes that reflect true generational cohort differences from attitudes that reflect nothing more than youthful age. Many other analyses have done little more than aggregate or gross up a generational group across all of its constituent age groups and thus are unable to tease apart cohort vs. age
© 2011 The Futures Company
effects. When examining the optimism of Millennials for cohort vs. age effects, The Futures Company finds clear evidence that the optimism so often mentioned in connection with Millennials is a function of their youth not of any unique generational difference. Says Kavounis, “Greater stress and pressures are apparent in optimism levels as Millennials mature from an almost naïve optimism to a more ‘realistic’ point of view, a shift in their point-of-view that leads to different behaviors and motivations in the marketplace. As Millennials become parents, gain more responsibilities and have more life experiences, their optimism fades.” The following chart from the Unmasking Millennials report shows how optimism steadily fades as Millennials age from year to year, entering new life stages with more responsibility, worries and obligations.
Optimism for the future 30% 25% 20% 15%
R² = 0.5396
10% 5% 0% 16
The test shown in this chart is deliberately designed as a strong test of generational optimism. This chart shows results for a two-question scale measuring optimism about the future. The percentages shown are the percent of respondents who gave optimistic responses to both questions. The trend assessed in this chart is whether there is a decline in optimism as Millennials age. Since this is clearly the case, optimism cannot be said to be an attitude consistently held across the generational cohort irrespective of age. Only consistently held attitudes that are different from other cohorts are true generational characteristics. Thus, optimism is a function of age not a belief universal and equally strong across all members of the generation. Instead, optimism fades with age. The Unmasking Millennials report will be delivered to clients as a micro-site with multimedia content that brings different Millennial tribes or segments to life by
© 2011 The Futures Company
exploring the range of attitudes and behaviors of Millennials and the ways in which Millennials are growing up and growing apart. These deep dives into Millennial tribes focus on segment-specific profiles and the implications for marketing strategies. Unmasking Millennials will be available to clients on 14 March. A complimentary breakfast briefing will be held in London on 15 March to mark the launch and a Webinar will be held on 23 March. To reserve a place at the briefing or to join the Webinar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7955 1833.
For further information, please contact: (UK) Jennifer Childs on +44 (0)20 7955 1824 or email email@example.com (US) Emily Parenti on +1 919 932 8626 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ÂŠ 2011 The Futures Company
Editor’s notes About The Futures Company The Futures Company is the leading global foresight and futures consultancy, formed in 2008 from the coming together of The Henley Centre, HeadlightVision and Yankelovich. Through a combination of syndicated insight services and bespoke research and consultancy, we create commercial advantage for our clients by helping them to take control of their futures. By exploring the future needs, motivations and behaviors of consumers, and the broader dynamics shaping the marketplace, we unlock the future of consumers, brands, categories and companies. The Futures Company is a Kantar company within WPP with teams in the UK, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and India. www.thefuturescompany.com Follow The Futures Company on Twitter @FuturesCo.
About Global MONITOR Global MONITOR offers a road map for navigating post-recession consumer behaviors. The ongoing tracking of the emerging trends shaping the recovery marketplace provides a framework of action for marketers looking to move quickly yet smartly in a fundamentally changed marketplace, defining the new boundaries of competition, the new brand requirements of value and the new aspirations of success. Global MONITOR encompasses: a quantitative global survey of over 27,000 consumers in 20 countries; the Global Energies – a conceptual trends framework to structure key insights and identify new growth platforms; and Global Streetscapes, our interactive and continually updated database of examples of consumer and brand behavior that bring the trends to life. The unique combination of quantitative and qualitative data creates robust and inspiring insight into future-facing trends. Global MONITOR can help refine brand positioning and marketing communications, fuel innovation and ideation, deepen understanding of key market issues and provide thought leadership on consumer issues. To find out how you can access these resources on a global or market-by-market basis to unlock your future growth, please see http://www.thefuturescompany.com/page/Global_MONITOR/.
© 2011 The Futures Company