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Research, research, research... the millennial's approach to consumer purchases

3rd August 2017

Michael Fullem gives the Gen Y perspective on Grayling's new Inside Influence research. 


Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, make up the largest living generation in America, with over 75 million 21-37 year olds, according to the US Census Bureau, impacting the changing tides of American consumerism every single day.


Even though we sometimes get a bad rap – exaggerated in the media as slaves to technology, narcissistic, sheltered from reality and risk averse – millennials consistently prove to be one of the most influential generations, and embody countless positive traits. We are highly motivated, entrepreneurial, progressive, diverse, adventurous, accepting, innovative, and socially, economically, and environmentally conscious. Well I would say that, wouldn't I? Being one of the 75 million millennials in America, I know first-hand the challenges and successes that come with these associated labels on both sides of the spectrum.


Since we are now the largest generation, we irrefutably win the award for most talked about generation to date – and we millennials do love our participation trophies! According to Nielsen Norman Group, millennials are the first generation to have grown up fully immersed in digital technology – mainly the internet – which in turn has molded our beliefs, social skills and methods of communication. By being the first, we are prone to closer examination because our actions will ultimately affect normalcy in society and determine how brands operate with consumers.


Grayling's consumer research, Inside Influence, takes a deeper dive into each generation’s purchasing behavior, from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. Among the findings are that, on average, millennial men spend the most money and the most time on purchases in the automotive, personal finance, consumer electronics and travel sectors – more than any other generation.


Personally, I was shocked at these findings, but when thinking about my last purchases in each of these categories, it all started to make sense. 


Our research also found that over half of Gen Y males make travel purchases. And they are taking travel decisions seriously, spending the most amount of money and talking to the most people before making a purchase. Millennials, both men and women, speak to a whopping 24 people on average before making a travel decision. We take our research seriously! 


Funnily enough, I’m in the process of planning a big international vacation to Japan within the next year, and I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve done hours upon hours of research already. Being economically conscious and a child of the digital age, I’m constantly comparing hotels, flights, travel dates, destinations, etc to find the best deal at the highest quality. I’ve taken into account countless numbers of online resources, but also first-hand advice from peers to parents. If I had to guess, I’d say at least 24 in the last month! Although I hate to admit it, the research had me spot-on: I’m willing to take my sweet time and pay a pretty penny when it comes to travel.


When looking at the other purchase categories, too – automotive, finance and consumer electronics – it was as if I was looking in the mirror. Although we have many labels, this just further confirmed that I’m a true millennial through and through.


For more information about the Grayling Inside Influence consumer study, download the free PDF summary below, or contact Jon Meakin to arrange a bespoke presentation.

Download PDF

Michael Fullem

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