5 Types of Millennials

February 2015, by Lily Li and Wei Zhen Lee

Motivating Millennials, Part 1 (series)

They call us the “narcissistic tech-savvy” generation.

They say that we are “ambitious, independent, yet entitled and ungrateful.”

The onslaught of literature on Millennials today successfully lumps us into a demographically homogenous category obsessed with social media, self-entitled agendas, an inability to endure hardships, and irresponsibly travel the world on a whim.

Baby Boomers were characterized by the economic hardship conditions they were born into, which resulted in their hardworking, loyal and committed values. Generation X were seen as those who “laid the political, intellectual, social, creative, and personal ground upon which the Millennials today walk, talk, and text.” We are two Millennials born in the ‘80s & ‘90s who grew up in opposite parts of the world with very different cultures. Even though we are both classified as Millennials and share many similarities, we can’t help but also see the vast differences between us.

While we do not disagree with the harsh yet true characterization of Millennials today, we probed further to ask ourselves: How different are Millennials and what matters most to them?

We identified 5 personas or archetypes of Millennials that we believe are reflective of our diverse groups of Millennial friends across continents.

Personas are defined by an individual’s underlying need. These underlying needs are not easily observable; they go deep within a person’s heart. These underlying needs become the motivation for certain sets of behaviour that individuals exhibit.

Every millennial has a dominant persona, even if they see bits of themselves in other personas. Another important thing to note is that the persona that one has can change as one enters different life stages.

In this first edition of our series on “Motivating Millennials,” we will show you how we understand the variances across Millennials today. This becomes a reference point when we try to understand how they behave.

FIVE TYPES OF MILLENNIALS:

1) The Traditionalist
millennial_persona-traditionalist
“I’m going to save up to get a house, settle down, and buy a car. This should take me about five years… after that I can start saving for my children’s university graduation.” 

The Traditionalist craves for stability. In all aspects of their lives, they don’t wish to deviate too far from the norm. They are driven by their need for comfort and security. They don’t want to miss out on the best of things but they also don’t see the need to be overly idealistic in thinking they can pursue their dreams without a cost to their security. A stable job, a stable income, a stable family is what they strive for. This stability gives them security, and they give their loyalty in exchange for this security. A volatile relationship with work and relationships disconcerts them. Traditionalists echo the stereotyped Baby Boomers that are typically known to be loyal, committed and hardworking individuals that easily submit to hierarchy. They are in a way a continuation of the generations before them.

2) The Dreamer
millennial_persona-dreamer
“I’ve always wanted to be a fashion blogger… however, my parents have no clue what a fashion blogger is. Anyway, right now I’m doing that on the side while I work as an auditor.”

The Dreamer craves to fulfil their life’s purpose, to follow their bliss, and to live a life of meaning. They aren’t necessarily idealists but spend a vast amount of energy taking slow and steady steps toward fulfilling their dreams and passions in life. They want a life that is characterized with meaning, and a life where they do what they absolutely love. They envy those who seem to have “made it.” The magnitude of their actions in response to their dreaming nature characterizes them differently. We see Dreamers on a spectrum. On the one end, they are dreamers who are not yet ready to take action to pursue their callings, and on the other hand, they are fully ready to embrace the uncertainties and risks to achieve what they were born to do. Millennial Dreamers have a wider range of passion and possibilities than ever before thanks to technology and globalization.

3) The Relational Devotee
millennial_persona-relationaldevotee
“I gave up my job and moved to Seattle to be with my girlfriend. Every weekend, we drive to my parents’ place for a meal because family is important to me.”

The Relational Devotee is one that prioritizes their relationships over everything else. From family, to friendships, to partners and colleagues, they find the greatest meaning in pursuing a connection with every individual. They need to feel connected to a person or a community. They are driven by love and by their desire for connection. These relationships are central to most decision-making situations. It’s people first, everything else second. Millennial Relational Devotees are not afraid of the cross-cultural and international borders that separate them and their loved ones. Social media has made it easier to keep in touch with people anywhere around the world.

4) The Experience Maximizer
millennial_persona-experiencemaximizer
“I want to know as much as I can about the world I live in. While I’m young, I want to take risks and explore as much as I can so that I can make better decisions later on. ”

The Experience Maximizer has a relentless curiosity about the world and a desire to learn and expand their knowledge through accumulating different life experiences. They live in a way that The Traditionalist would consider irresponsible. Whether its travelling around the world, or working across industries, or trying new hobbies, or accumulating a diverse set of skills, The Experience Maximizer lives in a trial and leave manner. They believe that this is the best way to broaden their horizons and make informed decisions later on. The Millennial Experience Maximizer sees infinite possibilities and areas to explore. Anything is possible.

5) The Achiever
millennial_persona-achiever
“I was just at this Big Data Conference in Dubai… I built this new app with a guy I met there. We already finished coding the backend, but are still working on the design. We want to prototype it and raise some funding soon – want to see it?”

The Achiever is the accomplished individual with countless achievements to their name. Sometimes we wonder if they are born as humans like the rest of us, but most of the time, we are too distracted with gaping at their accolades to do so. For most Achievers, the constant need for challenge, growth and status drives their ways of life. They hate stagnation and do their best to stay ahead of the crowd by constantly challenging themselves to get to the next level. Unlike The Traditionalist or the Dreamer who are driven by stability and meaning, The Achiever just wants to be challenged and to be ahead of themselves and the rest in all areas of their lives. The Millennial Achiever is ambitious and bold. They are keen on tackling the big global issues that generations before would have never dared dreamed. Poverty? Environment? Bring it on! They are out to change the world, period.

While we might find similarities in these personas in other generations such as Gen X, we believe the context is very different for the Millennial generation due to the influence of technology, social media, and globalization.

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In part 2 of our Motivating Millennials series, we share with you strategies for engaging with different types of Millennials. 

 

 

Sources:

“Millennials and Boomers: Don’t forget Generation X.” Huffington Post

“Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, and the Baby Boomers.” www.talentedheads.com

“Multigenerational Characteristics.” Bruce Mayhew Consulting