10 Core Millennial Identity Factors Revealed in Dimensions of Self Identity Research; New Marketing Road Map to Personalized Communications

​​​​​​​​The new Millennial marketing road map suggests that marketers should ditch traditional and multicultural segmentation strategies and embrace personalization when it comes to building relationships with Millennials, according to a new Millennial+ | Javelin Marketing Group study.

The groundbreaking research, Dimensions of Self Identity, uniquely identified 64 meaningful items that make up how Millennials define themselves. The items are further organized into 17 factors and 7 meta-factors: Values & Relationships, Self-Awareness & Perception, Talent & Achievement, Belonging, Social Image, Culture & Worldliness, and Helping.

"What we learned about identity solidifies the messaging potency of personalization and the evolution in cultural targeting," said Barry Wade, Managing Director of Millennial+. "Millennials' celebration and acceptance of individual differences, their ethnic agnosticism and fluid sexuality is supreme to traditional segmentations and generic marketing strategies. Brands need to rethink everything not to get blocked out, ignored or over invest in demand creation."

Barry Wade, Managing Director, Millennial+

Top Ten Factors at The Core of Millennial Identity, based on respondents’ highest rankings:

  1. My personality             6. My personal responsibility
  2. My personal values     7. My ability to run my life the way I want
  3. How honest I am         8. My belief in fairness
  4. Being a good friend    9. My responsibility for family
  5. My self-confidence    10. My intelligence 

The top ten factors reveal Millennials look inward for self-identity at a very individual and personal level, almost as segments of one. Self-expression is also important to Millennials. They actively use social media to display and validate their identities, and to seek and monitor the opinions of those they most care about – their friends, family and the people they follow online.

Millennials have been unfairly labeled the ‘me’ generation, implying narcissism,” said Janet Pines, Global Strategy & Planning Director, Senior Vice President of Javelin. “When looked at through the lens of self-identity, we learned that part of Millennials’ differences is simply life-stage related, since many are smack-dab in the middle of identity formation. But what is truly unique is that they reject outward labels of belonging that older generations embrace, including nationality, sexual orientation, religion, race/ethnicity, political party affiliation and generation. Instead, they look inward, ranking ‘my personality’ as most defining. They wisely embrace what is perhaps most unique about themselves and others and project their individuality into the world. It’s smart self-branding. And it’s more biology than narcissism.”

What Millennials dislike that past generations have embraced as a deep source of identity are labels and linkages to traditional groupings, such as nationality, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, political affiliation and local communities. Most revealing was “race/ethnicity,” with a ranking below the 50 percentile for both white and non-white Millennials, indicating this generation is race-aware but ethnic-agnostic. This generation prefers to embrace differences and to celebrate individuality and fluid identities.

“What we learned about identity solidifies the messaging potency of personalization and the evolution in cultural targeting,” said Barry Wade, Managing Director of Millennial+. “Millennials’ celebration and acceptance of individual differences, their ethnic agnosticism and fluid sexuality is supreme to traditional segmentations and generic marketing strategies. Brands need to rethink everything not to get blocked out, ignored or over invest in demand creation."

When it comes to brands, Millennials love all types. To engage with Millennials, brands should think less about what they want to message and more about how they help Millennials message their own personal brand. Millennials feel best about major brands, brands from their childhoods and generic/store brands. Unlike older generations, they also embrace celebrity and indie brands. Great apps and websites were more important to Millennials in forming brand preferences.  

The Data that Matters: The single most important data point to challenge every marketer’s thinking about Millennials is that “my personality” matters most (#1), yet it ranked much lower for GenXers and Boomers (#6 and #8, respectively). This summarizes what makes Millennials who they are: They start with, accept and leverage what is entirely unique to themselves and to every human being. What matters is way beyond diversity or segmentation; it’s unique and personal individuality.

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About Millennial+

Millennial+ is a marketing consultancy – advancing cross-disciplinary thinking, rigorous cultural research, business analysis and creative work to monetize Millennials. Millennial+, a joint venture with Omnicom Group’s Diversified Agency Services (DAS), is a certified minority enterprise. www.millennialplus.com

About Javelin Marketing Group

Javelin Marketing Group is a full-service, customer marketing agency driven by leading-edge analytics. We help clients understand what really matters to their customers – not based on what we believe, but on what we know and can prove – allowing them to make dramatically better decisions, create more compelling stories and have far greater success. Javelin has a deep heritage in direct marketing, CRM, customer engagement, brand development, advertising and digital. www.javelin.mg

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