Millennials, Boomers, & 2015 Resolutions: 5 Key Generational Differences

1_NewYearHeader-01

They’ve been called many things: Generation Y, Generation 9/11, the Boomerang Generation, the Peter Pan Generation, the Lost Generation, and even the Me, Me, Me Generation. We’ll just call them Millennials—those approximately 80 million Americans born after 1980, currently ranging in age from about 18-33 years old.

But regardless of what we call them, companies are realizing—and have been realizing for some time—that these Millennials are a consumer force of vital, even historic significance. As Dionne Searcy of the New York Times wrote, “But now marketers, manufacturers and retailers are recognizing the group’s potential as something important to their bottom line: the consumers who will drive the economy in the decades ahead.”

 

Reaching iGen

And then there’s at least one other moniker assigned these 18-33 year olds: iGen. A fitting designation indeed. After all, as Nielsen reports, over 85% of Millennials own a smartphone—and these “digital natives” certainly use them. In fact, according to AdWeek, the typical Millennial checks his or her smartphone 43 times a day.

So as companies increasingly try to find ways to serve Millennials, whose collective purchase power grows every day, smartphones offer a convenient gateway to the opinions, plans, and lifestyles of this all-important demographic. Because it utilizes smartphone technology, mobile market research is perhaps the most natural and direct link to iGen.

 

New Year's Resolutions: From One Generation to the Next

Like parent, like child—or so we’ve been told. We at Field Agent used the new year, and its association with resolutions and self-improvement plans, as an occasion to examine potential generational differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials. It was an opportunity to see in what ways, if any, the Echo-Boom resembles and differs from the original Baby Boom, that is, on the important matter of New Year’s resolutions and related spending.

We ultimately uncovered 5 noteworthy ways Millennials differ from Boomers. And these differences, you’ll notice, have important implications for retail success.   

 

Be It Resolved: 2015 Resolutions

We surveyed 300 American adults, including 100 from each of three generational categories: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. Regardless of generational affiliation, wholly 86% of our sample reported making at least one New Year’s resolution for 2015. And these resolutions, we noted, look somewhat similar across generational divides.

Below are the most frequently cited resolutions in our study. In each case, more than half of respondents said they are committed to the stated goal in 2015.

1. Exercise more (75%)
2. Eat healthier (75%)
3. Lose weight (56%)
4. Save money (52%)   

But now to the 5 ways Millennials differ from Boomers—in many cases, their parents—in making and keeping New Year’s resolutions.  

 

Difference #1. Millennials are more “resolved” in 2015 than Boomers.

According to our survey, when Millennials bring in the New Year, they really “bring it.” Resoundingly, 94% of Millennials reported making personal improvement commitments for 2015. Compare this with Boomers at 84% and Gen X at 81%. So, while some have criticized Millennials as self-entitled and unreliable, our study suggests that, when it comes to self-improvement, Millennials demand much of themselves—perhaps more at this point than even their Boomer parents.

 

Difference #2. Millennials are more determined to save money and less determined to lose weight

Though our cross-generational analysis of New Year’s resolutions and spending showed more similarities than differences, we did notice Millennials were, when compared to Boomers, more committed in 2015 to saving money and, perhaps as a function of their youthfulness, less committed to losing weight. Only 34% of Boomers said they are resolved to save money in the new year, compared to 63% of Millennials. But while 62% of Boomers reported weight loss resolutions, just 46% of Millennials reported likewise.    

That Millennials would show such determination to save money and, in general, concern for personal finance is not altogether surprising. Today’s 18-33 year olds are facing remarkable economic uncertainty. As Tom Sightings of U.S. News & World Report explained, “This generation [Millennials] is the first in U.S. history to enter adulthood in worse economic shape than their parents.”

 

Difference #3. Millennials outspend Boomers in keeping their personal resolutions

Of the three generations, Millennials expect to spend the most in 2015 honoring their New Year’s resolutions. We asked respondents to calculate the approximate per month cost of their resolutions. While Boomers said they’ll spend, on average, $152 every month, Millennials anticipate spending an average of $294.15. This difference might reflect the comparatively ambitious academic and career goals to be expected among younger people.  

Not surprisingly, then, Millennials find it more difficult to fund their self-improvement schemes. We asked respondents whether making and keeping New Year’s resolutions is a strain on their personal budgets. 39% of Millennials ackowledged some difficulty paying for their resolutions compared to only 19% of Boomers.

 

Difference #4. Millennials get by with a little help from their friends…and maybe their Boomer parents, too

Our mobile survey asked respondents if they received one or more Christmas gifts this year to help toward their New Year’s resolutions and/or self-improvement goals. 40% of Millennials responded “yes,” compared to only 19% of Boomers. One possible explanation is that, due to economic differences and common family gift-giving patterns, Millennials may receive more gifts from Boomers than they give to Boomers. After all, as AdWeek said of Millennials: “They’ve cut every cord—except to mom and dad.”

 

Difference #5. Millennials say they fared better keeping their resolutions last year

Not only were Millennials the most “resolved” generational category in our survey, reporting greater propensity than other age groups to make resolutions for 2015, but it seems Millennials also excelled in actually keeping their resolutions last year. 76% of Millennials agreed they kept their resolutions in 2014, compared to 60% of Boomers. So as the ball dropped to usher in 2015, Millennials could take pride in the fact they didn’t “drop the ball” in 2014—keeping the resolutions they established for themselves.

 

Reach Out and Touch Someone—Actually, Anyone

Mobile market research has direct access to the demos that drive your business—from Millennials to Hispanic shoppers to parents with kids at-home, you name it. As social and demographic changes reshape the American market, mobile research offers the right mix of speed, affordability, and accuracy to enhance your understanding of customers, across numerous demographic categories. In 2015, call on mobile market research.

Healthy Living Report 2017 Download