Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them.
5 things: what the millennial generation thinks of the generation before it
- There is a feeling amongst millennials that their generation is more adventurous and ambitious than the generation that came before it, perhaps even “flighty” or “selfish”. A respondent from London told us: “Previously people have stuck to a path – we go travelling, do things differently from our parents; we are more conscious of our footprint in the world”.
- Millennials believe that they place greater emphasis on people and experiences with their friends, while their parents favour material items. They are “very into material things and are more likely to buy from
big corporations, rather than thinking about where something is made or who made it” (J, 30, Glasgow). Their children, on the other hand, “share feelings and look towards activities for happiness, rather than buying things” (C, 30, Manchester).
- This investment in relationships puts an additional time pressure on the millennial generation, that didn’t exist for their parents, because people don’t tend to live close to friends and family so much anymore. A respondent from Manchester told us: “My friends live all over the country and therefore it takes time to travel and see them regularly. As a generation, we are time poor.”
- There is a strong sense of progress, that the millennial generation is more open-minded and more tolerant than its parent’s generation. “My parents’ values are very internal looking, whereas I feel this generation is more outwards looking – we have so much more information giving us the chance to have a bigger perspective” (K, 34, London). “My perception is that my parents have similar values to me, but the generation as a whole is not quite as open to people from different walks of life or backgrounds. [They identify] ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups. They don’t spend time with ‘out’ groups and dismiss them, just because their opinion differs. My generation is more open, tolerant and accepting of diversity” (C, 32, Leamington Spa).
- This follows through to the environment. Awareness of the environment is very much considered to be a younger person’s pursuit… “[We are more] environmentally conscious than the previous generation” (C, 30, Manchester).