SymphonyIRI on reaching millennials: New media savvy but hard hit by economy


CHICAGO — At 50 million strong in the United States today, millennials — defined as adults ages 18 years to 34 years — are demonstrating more volatility and showing less fiscal confidence than average shoppers, revealed a SymphonyIRI Group report released Wednesday.

“Shoppers of all ages, income levels and demographics continue to evaluate and evolve their shopping rituals based on an economy that shows some signs of strength, but still many ongoing signs of weakness," stated Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, a SymphonyIRI Group publication.

Inaugural findings from SymphonyIRI's "Shopper Sentiment Index" revealed that millennial shoppers have demonstrated a more cautious and volatile outlook compared with other age groups during the past 18 months. This reflects the environment in which they live at a critical juncture in their adult lives. For various reasons, millennials tend to head larger-than-average-sized households. Meanwhile, they have relatively low levels of household income. They are 11% more likely to have incomes of $25,000 to $49,000; 14% more likely to have incomes of $50,000 to $99,000; but 18% less likely to earn six figures than other Americans.

As an added hardship, the recent recession has hit millennials hard; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2011 unemployment rate for this group of 12%, as compared with 9% for the general U.S. population. Underemployment, too, is a significant challenge.

SymphonyIRI’s MarketPulse survey noted that millennials are coping through several money-saving activities. The group is 46% more likely to use at-home beauty treatments to save money, and 31% more likely to cook from scratch or with limited convenience foods to save money. Millennials also are 18% more likely to “self-treat” where possible to avoid spending money on doctor’s visits.

And communication through new media has an outsized impact on millennials. A group that has grown up in the age of digital media and smart devices, this technology-savvy group is the first “always connected” generation. As expected, new media are essential to millennials’ process of learning about CPG products. When making brand decisions, millennials are 262% more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by smartphone apps, 247% are more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites and 216% are more likely to be influenced by in-store touchscreen displays.

SymphonyIRI is offering a free webinar, "Millennial Shoppers: Tapping into the Next Growth Segment," at 2 p.m. EST on July 12. Registration for the webinar, hosted by Viamari, is available here.

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