True or False: Myths about Millennials

Recognizing Millennials’ importance is far from being a novelty. Marketing professionals have for long been interested in today’s young generation, comparing them to what their parents at the same age were like. There are plenty of statements about this age group that we hear frequently, but do they turn out to be true also with regard to Millennials from Central and Eastern Europe?       

What technologies do they use? How do they communicate? What is their attitude like toward brands? What are their purchasing habits? What is their opinion about advertising and corporate social responsibility? Through which channels can they be reached? These are the most recurring questions.  

The relevant studies published in international journals focus mainly on American and Western European Millennials. Therefore, it is worth exploring whether their observations are also valid for the Generation-Y of Central and Eastern Europe. We picked 5 of the most frequently recited findings and examined them in the context of some of the Central and Eastern European countries covered by weCAN, namely in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.    

1. They cannot live without smartphone and Internet

In the West

A 2015 study of Elite Daily, an online news platform focusing on Generation-Y, revealed that on a daily basis, 87% of American Millennials use two or three tech devices at least once and 30% are gearing up to purchase some kind of wearable devices like smartwatches. Another research forecasted that 50% of Millennials in the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia would do more shopping on their smartphones and tablets than they would by making in store purchases last Christmas.    

In the East

According to Eurostat’s data, Central and Eastern European Milleannials correspond also to this trend. Three quarters of people in the region, including the 5 countries of our analysis, aged 16-34 years use their mobile phones to connect to the Internet. This figure does not significantly lag behind the EU-15 average, where the same can be found out about 4 out of 5 young people.      

Many of them are almost obsessed when it comes to using the Internet. According to weCAN agencies’ data, one third of the Hungarian, Czech and Slovakian Millennials could not live without Mobile Internet. Over half of Croatians aged 15-34 years say they could not do without Internet, while only 15% say the same about TV. In Romania, 8 out of 10 young people feel nervous leaving the house without their mobile phones, and almost half of them crave after the newest smartphone model.   

2. Social media is their home

In the West

In the US, 84% of Millennials have a Facebook profile, almost half of them use Google+ and more than one third have a Twitter or Instagram account. According to the statistics of Eurostat, social media is similarly popular in Western Europe: in the EU-15 countries, an average 83% have an account in social media networks. However, when observing the countries separately, we find important differences. In the UK and Germany, 90% of those between 16 and 34 years have a profile in social media, while in France and Italy only 68-69%.       

In the East

Millennials in the EU’s Central and Eastern European member states do not at all lag behind in this respect. 83% of young people have a social media account here as well. We certainly find significant differences in this region, too. The ranking of the countries we analyzed is as follows: Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia are in the top 3 (with over 85%), followed by the Czech Republic and Romania with 81% and 74%, respectively.      

weCAN agencies’ figures point out that social media is an inherent part of young people’s lives in these countries. Half of the members of Generation Y in Hungary think that these sites play a central role in keeping in touch with their friends and almost as many pay attention to their image in social networks. 1 in 3 Slovakian Millennials feel a strong urge to use social media every day and in the Czech Republic even more (42%) feel similarly.    

3. They are loyal to brands

In the West

American studies have revealed that despite the practically infinite offer of products, half of Millennials are loyal to their favourite brands and 1 out of 4 believes to be more loyal than members of the previous generation. The same trend is observed in Western Europe: in the UK and France, half of young people consider it important to find brands that they can be loyal to.

In the East

Many in the Central and Eastern European countries analyzed are open to new brands and to try new products. It is the case for one third of Croatian and Hungarian Millennials, while in the Czech Republic and Slovakia around 40%, and in Romania half of them show the same attitude. This, however, does not mean that they do not hold on to their favourite brands. Almost half of all young people in Hungary and Slovakia and even more in the Czech Republic tend to stick to brands they like. These figures reflect roughly the same results that had been measured in their parents’ generation.  

At the same time, the young and older generation’s attitude differs a lot regarding domestic products. In the Czech Republic, one quarter of all young people, in Slovakia and Hungary one third of them and in Romania half of the Millennials prefer domestic products over foreign ones. In case of the older generation, 10-20% more people prefers domestic goods. This trend is also observed in the US.   

4. They are serious about corporate social responsibility

In the West

“Consumers around the world are saying loud and clear that a brand’s social purpose is among the factors that influence purchase decisions,” a study by Nielsen stated in 2014. The same report revealed that half of all online costumers are ready to pay more for a product if the company is committed to positive social and environmental change. This trend is even stronger within the Millennial age group. 3 out of 4 Millennials in the US say that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society and 70% of their British counterpart say that they would consider a brand’s ethics and values when deciding about their purchases.

In the East

It seems that this attitude is not yet that widespread in Central and Eastern Europe. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia a little more than 40%, while in Hungary only 28% of Millennials reported that they have refused to buy products from a company that they disapproved. Roughly the same tendency can be observed in case of other CSR-related questions. Only one quarter of Czech Millennials would pay more for an environmentally friendly product, and only 35% of the Hungarian Generation-Y likes to buy products from socially responsible companies. In Romania, 58% of all young people buy products that do not harm the environment – still, it is 10% less than the rate in their parents’ generation. 

5. They are more open to advertising than their parents

In the West

4 in 10 American Millennials admit to blocking internet advertising and only one third think that advertising is useful. In the UK, half of 18 to 34-year-olds believe they are unaffected by advertising and only 1 out of 5 believe that ads they see are increasing in relevancy.

Although these figures may not be very promising for advertisers, Millennials are still more open to advertising than their parents. The study conducted in the UK revealed that only 1 out of 10 of those aged 35+ consider advertising relevant, and three quarters feel unaffected by ads.

In the East

Roughly the same trend can be observed in Central and Eastern Europe. In the weCAN countries analyzed, 3 or 4 out of 10 Millennials think that advertisements provide them with useful information about products and services. In Hungary, one third of the Generation-Y considers advertising as a waste of time, while in Slovakia 39%, and in the Czech Republic almost 50% think likewise. The older generation is even more sceptical (with the exception of Hungary): in Slovakia 47% and in the Czech Republic 52% of those between 35-54 years believe that they just waste their time on ads.

Author: Böbe Barsi, International Communications Manager

Contributing weCAN agencies:
Advans (Croatia), Branding (Czech Republic, Slovakia), Café Communications (Hungary), Media Investment – The Group (Romania)
Source of data provided by weCAN agencies:
Brand Puls (Croatia), SNA Focus (Romania), TGI (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia)
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