Millennials Aren’t Who You Think They Are, The Economist Says

'They curate, they consume and they create'

Headshot of Marty Swant

Go ahead and add The Economist to the list of entities that want to understand the mysterious millennial mindset.

Working with Bloom Worldwide, the newspaper sought a global picture of the millennial mentality across four continents. Surveying nearly 90,000 millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, they wanted to better understand the media consumption habits of a generation that some say is hard to define and others argue is hard to target.

"The genesis of the reason why we did it is there is a lot of focus on millennials out there," said Nick Blunden, global managing director of The Economist. "We felt that the conversation about millennials was being somewhat dictated by a set of clichés that really didn't seem to bear any scrutiny when we thought about the millennials that we know already consume our product."

In an interview with Adweek after his Advertising Week panel entitled "The Millennial Mirage" in New York last week, Blunden said research suggests a high ratio of those in the 18-35 age range aren't the lazy, narcissistic, entitled, apathetic parental leeches they're often described as. Rather they're often active, interested and entrepreneurial.

Blunden calls this subset "Gen-Narrators"—a cohort of influencers who both are sophisticated media consumers whose reach is coveted by not only media companies but also brands.

"They curate, they consume and they create. And that's what makes them influencers," Blunden said. "They don't just take on broad information, they DJ with it. They remix it and send it out."

"There is this incredibly powerful influencer generation," he said. "And if you engage with them in the right away, and you create content for them but you accept that they're going to want to customize, curate and remix that content and make it their own and pass it on, then that's a really interesting opportunity."

Here are some of the other findings:



@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.