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. Over the next few weeks we’ll share our insight on the Millennial Life.
5 things: the values millennials live by
- Millennials are striving to be “good people” to show honesty and integrity and to “give people the time of day irrespective of seniority or walk of life” (M, 32, Manchester). As one subject from London summarized, she is striving to “generally speaking, be a nice person”. None of the respondents were driven by faith (a few actively reject religious values), but some drew on the language of religious moral codes to encapsulate their approaches. One respondent from Manchester stated: “it’s an approach of do unto others as you would like done to yourself”.
- People are incredibly important to millennials – keeping up with friends and family, being there for people, showing kindness and embracing those with different views. As a respondent from London said: “the main value for me is all about family and friends, and this has got even more important to me as I’ve got older, making sure I keep up with people and are there for them.”
- Social and environmental consciousness is driving relationships between millennials and brands: “I think I’m a lot more conscious about knowing what is behind marketing goods and services – I do go and do my research to make sure a brand is behaving ethically” (N, 33, London). Palm oil was mentioned by a few of our interviewees and is a big factor in brand choice, as is responsibility towards the community. “Yes, brand behaviour influences me – I wouldn’t buy a brand that is linked to palm oil or unethical behaviours… or one that has [had a negative impact on] LGBT Plus issues” (K, 34, London).
- This follows through to life choices, including the kinds of jobs people look for. Millennials are not necessarily choosing salaries over social purpose, and some are specifically looking to work for smaller organizations where they feel they can make a difference. “It’s quite important from a personal perspective for me to find an employer that matches my values and cultures, and treats people in the way I want to be treated and treat others” (C, 32, Leamington Spa); “I would be more inclined to work for a company that has social purpose” (K, 34, London).
- Despite an intense ethical and environmental awareness, millennials remain financially restricted in the decisions they take. A respondent from Leamington Spa told us: “I probably don’t [live by my values] as much as I would like. Like everyone, we all want to be ethical and environmentally aware, but ultimately look for price.”