Culture, Social Activism Matter to Today’s Youth

November 20, 2012

Millennials (aged 18-29) in the US have diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, and are concentrated in cities with large Hispanic populations, according to [download page] a new report from Scarborough Research. Heritage doesn’t just matter to American Millennials, though: around the world, this generation shows pride in national traditions, along with a strong sense of tolerance and openness towards other cultures.

Looking at the US, Scarborough finds that 43% of Millennials identify as Hispanic (21%), black/African American (13%), Asian, or of other race or ethnicity (9%). That compares to 38% of Generation X adults (aged 30-44), and 26% of Baby Boomers (aged 45-64). In particular, Millennials are 49% more likely than average to be Hispanic. That’s a big reason why Millennials are highly concentrated in cities like Bakersfield, CA (34% more than in measured markets overall), El Paso, TX (31% more), and Fresno, CA (21% more).

Overall, Scarborough reveals that 62% of Millennials agree that their cultural and ethnic heritage counts as an important part of their identity.

Pride in Country Grows, but Tolerance is Key

The mixed and varied heritage of American Millennials reflects changing patterns of immigration, and the obvious sweeping force of globalization. Around the world, youth have adapted to these changes by displaying a keen pride in nationality, coupled with an openness to new cultures and ideas.

For example, a new study from Viacom, also released this month, found that 83% of Millennials (defined as ages 9-30) are proud of their nationality, up from 77% in 2006. Similarly, 76% agree that it’s important to maintain their country’s traditions. That’s also up, from 68% in 2006.

Still, that type of national pride doesn’t present itself in an isolationist way. Instead, 73% of the youth surveyed from 24 countries embrace immigration, believing that it’s great to have people from other countries coming to live in their respective home country. That’s a big jump from 51% who felt that way in 2006, and is a reflection of the 86% who describe themselves as tolerant.

More Than Half of Young Adults Are Social Activists

Millennials’ affinity for technology and the internet is well known, and described in some detail in the Scarborough Research report. But the word “social” doesn’t just conjure up images of Facebook or Instagram. In fact, young adults around the world are heavily involved in social activism, finds TBWA in new survey results, and that has serious implications for marketers.

In its study of 2,000 young adults aged 18-29, across 9 countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, UK, and the US), TBWA found that 56% describe themselves as social activists. That means that they engage in activities such as donating time or money, participating in fundraising events, and supporting or boycotting businesses, among others.

With 1 in 2 saying that social activism is an important part of who they are, youth are inclined to reward companies that follow their lead. 76% would think more highly of a company that helps them support a cause they care about, and 66% would be more likely to look for a job with a company that supports such a cause. And those feelings have the potential to translate into revenue for companies that meet the criteria: fully 71% said they would be more likely to buy from a company that supports a cause they care about. In fact, according to survey results released in April by Cone Communications, younger consumers (aged 15-39) are 38% more likely than their more mature counterparts (over age 40) to pay extra for products and services from socially-responsibly companies.

As the data suggests, engaging youth today isn’t only about finding them on their smartphones or on their preferred social networks, it’s also about tapping into their deeply-held feelings of identity and community.

About the Data: The Scarborough Research data is from Scarborough USA+, Release 1 2012/GfK MRI Attitudinal Insights. Scarborough measures 210,000 adults aged 18+ annually across a wide variety of media, lifestyle, shopping and demographic categories.

The Viacom study spans every continent and delivers insights into the attitudes, values, aspirations and perspectives of young people (ages 9-30) from 24 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. In total, the project included 15,000 interviews, in-depth explorations and expert contributions/commentaries.

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