What happens when Millennials grow up?


Tess Kenning

Associate Director, London

The term ‘Millennial’ has been banded about for a long time now, so it’s fair to say brands know these consumers well. But what are the implications for brands when the fun-loving twenty-somethings mature?


Multiethnic Group of People Social Networking at Cafe

The term ‘millennial’ has been banded about for a good, long while now. A hot topic for the past 5 years or so, if you head to any article you’ll find a description along the lines of “fun-loving twenty- something, born between 1985 and 1995” – give or take a couple years.

Urban dictionary has my favourite definition so far:

Millennial is an identity given to a broadly and vaguely defined group of people…”

In truth ‘the Millennial’ is hard to define  – there’s an absence of the norm with this cohort and more sub-cultures than we’ve seen with previous generations before them. Though lifestage has something to do with it, the millennial consumer can not solely be defined by an age-bracket or date of birth, but their unique mindset.

So what do we know about the ‘millennial mindset’?

Phone in the dark

None of this is new news. With the steady rise of the ‘craft’ movement, pop-up brand experiences and start-up DTC services it’s clear that brands have got to grips with who the millennial consumer is and what drives them.

But what happens when they grow up? 

By now, surely some of the cohort are transitioning from the fast-paced, experience filled years of their 20s to a family-orientated, responsibility filled future.  So what are the implications for design for maturing millennials?

There’s potential for brands for play a larger role in Millennials lives.

Maturing millennials are faced with a lot of uncertainty – recent political shifts, the unlikelihood of getting on the housing ladder and the minefield that is the world of online dating. With many living smaller or renting, unable to afford lavish material possessions, millennials will look to lifestyle brands to provide added meaning and value to their lives. Brands may have more of a role in the home, helping consumer curate their environment and say something about who they are.

Farewell FOMO, hello JOMO.

As much about lifestage as it is unique to this cohort, the generation who brought us FOMO are likely to slow down. Introducing JOMO – the ‘Joy Of Missing Out’. This is rooted in millennials love for real, human experiences, alongside the need for nurturing mindfulness as much as physical health. The ‘Hygge’ phenomenon sums this up nicely – the Danish concept for cosiness and comfortable conviviality was a key millennial trend of 2016.

Looking to the near future, it will be important for brands to grow with millennials as they mature. Understanding their unique mindset as it changes will be key if brands want to be able to connect with this generation in meaningful and engaging way.  Perhaps the brands that can both reassure millennials while also bringing a sense of genuine experience into ‘older age’ will be the ones to last.