Why Millennials’ Family-Focused Mindset is Crucial to Your Innovation Strategy

Posted by Jon Hall on Mar 4, 2015

Millennials, multi-generation familyWhile a lot has been written about Millennials and how to market to them, innovators have been struggling to figure out how to evolve their innovation strategies in order to capitalize on the sheer size and influence of these consumers. By not only understanding but also involving Millennials in strategy development, brands can ensure they truly deliver against their needs, wants and desires. In this post, we’ll discuss how deeply their family-focused mindset affects their decision-making and how successful innovation strategies can cater to it.

If you had to guess, what would you think is the top priority for Millennials? Traveling the world? Finding a job they love? According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Millennials say being a good parent is the most important thing in their lives, with having a successful marriage ranking as the second most important (30%).

Given the fact that only about six-in-ten were raised by both parents – a smaller share than older generations – Millennials have placed a high priority on parenthood and marriage, far above anything related to career and financial success. With such a large percentage of Millennials growing up in broken homes, they’ve witnessed firsthand what happens with unsuccessful marriages, and they’re trying to focus on being a better parent and spouse themselves. As a matter of fact, nearly 60% claim that they’re intentionally raising their children differently from how they were raised themselves.

Though many Millennials grew up with divorced parents, that doesn’t mean they grew up without loving parents, and they’ve learned the importance of making family a top priority from their “helicopter parents.” After the Great Recession, one in eight Millennials ages 22 and older say they’ve had to move back in with their parents, and it’s clear they appreciate all that they’ve done. Sixty-three percent of Millennials say they have a responsibility to let an elderly parent come with live them when they’re older, compared to just 48% of adults ages 42 and older.

The Changing Commitment Landscape

Looking at an interview with Dr. Donna Tonrey, a marriage and family therapist at LaSalle University, she believes the high divorce rate among their parents is one of the key reasons why Millennials are so hesitant to marry. “Many more young adults today come from a divorced home as compared with 1960. They have personally experienced the difficulty of divorce, and it can be a strong deterrent to marriage,” Tonrey said.

In 1960, 59% of adults aged 18-29 were married, but today that percentage has fallen to just 20%. Millennials are waiting much longer to pop the question, and the average age at which single women get married has risen from 20.3 in 1960 to 26.5 in 2010. For men, the age increased from 22.8 to 28.7 over the same time frame.

While this evidence might seem contradictory to their priorities, in reality most Millennials are delaying marriage in order to become more educated and more financially stable first. Sixty-nine percent of unmarried Millennials say they would like to marry, but many believe they lack the solid economic foundation to do so.

“If a woman is going to college, she is thinking about what she wants to major in, what type of job or career can result from her studies, and what she plans to do with this education when she graduates. Men are thinking in a similar fashion, and neither are as attracted to marriage yet,” Tonrey said.

What Does This Mean For Your Brand?

As the older generation’s values lose influence in the marketplace, companies need to figure out how to incorporate the Millennial way of thinking into to their product/service positioning. For Millennials, this family-focused mindset means:

  • Their family (immediate and future) is the most important thing in their lives; they also want their children to have the best possible upbringing, and try to avoid mistakes their own parents made. The implications here are wide-ranging: Millennials will likely opt for better-for-you foods for their kids than they themselves consumed; they will be focused on their children’s safety and practical innovations that provide it; and they’ll shy away from brand names and high style and instead choose value and affordability – a move that eventually allows them to spend more on family vacations and activities that enhance the bonds with their children
  • They respect their elders, and want to ensure good care of their parents when they’re older. This respect may very well lead Millennials to include their parents in conversations about purchases of high ticket items, if just to get their tacit approval. Likewise, this gives older, established brands the license to experiment with innovative new products and strategies, knowing that their brand name has maintained credibility and trust throughout the different generations.
  • They’re more hesitant to marry, because they’re fearful of divorce. Millennials are going to be conservative around commitments, which would affect purchases that span years of ownership or responsibility, like appliances, homes/mortgages, club memberships, and cell or cable contracts. This creates an opportunity for brands to introduce alternative purchase/lease models for products and services that require long-term commitments.
  • They want to be educated and financially stable before marriage. That being said, Millennial parents are also facing more financial pressures than older generations due to the Great Recession and increased levels of student debt. Though Millennials believe it’s important to be financially stable before marriage, what that really means is making sure their debt is manageable. This speaks to the same conservatism around long-term financial commitments like the purchase of a home or even a new car.

In order to understand what this means for your product/service category, it’s crucial that you involve Millennials in your long-term innovation strategy. While there are plenty of resources available that can tell you about their characteristics, the best way to uncover their real insights is by engaging them directly. Using our Millennial Transforum® Brain Trust, you can uncover their unique perspectives, and find out what makes them tick firsthand. You can brainstorm with them to create strategies, messaging, and product/service ideas that truly resonate with this powerful consumer segment.

Ready to learn how to tap into our Millennial Brain Trust to drive innovative thinking for your business? Download our brief to learn how our Millennial Brain Trust process can reveal breakthrough innovation opportunities.

Transforum for Millennials

Topics: innovation, Millennials, innovation management