The Facebook IQ study drew some very interesting parallels with our work, despite them looking at younger millennials under 24 (our own study focused on older millennials aged between 25-34).
Central to our conclusions here at Initiative was the view that marketers are still missing too many opportunities to effectively engage with and inspire this demographic that are now either adults or are on the cusp of adulthood.
We saw a generation that is very different to their older counterparts, Gen X’ers, with different needs and different expectations both from life more broadly and also brands.
One of the most interesting implications for marketers that came through in both pieces of research was the importance of creativity in what millennials value and admire, but also in how they want to live their lives.
Millennials have grown up with a huge respect for both creativity and innovation – it is what differentiates both themselves and brands from everyone else in a globalised "smaller" world. In fact, our millennials placed "creativity" as the second most important attribute that a brand can have, behind only "trustworthiness".
What were the drivers of this? Well there are several different factors at play. One is the sense that this group has more choice than previous generations – something that 69% of those we surveyed agreed with. And of course, having more choice means a greater ability to be creative about the kind of life one wants to have.
Millennials have grown up with greater visibility of people who own their own companies, for example, and these people are no longer the distant captains of industry but rather sneaker-clad people like themselves.
As a result of these new role models, we identified a very entrepreneurial generation (18% say they are very likely to start their own business in the future) – enabled by technology and emboldened by social change – something we discovered to be particularly true for women.
This shift towards being your own boss was also a consequence of a generation we found to be profoundly affected and, indeed, defined by the lingering effects of global recession in the economies of the countries they lived in (72 % said they had suffered significant economic setbacks).
So seeking alternative ways of making money, having a more fulfilling and creative career are important in a world where Zero Hours Contracts exist and largely inflexible ways of working remain.
The democratising effect of technology is also enabling millennials to be more creative and also to monetise that creativity through turning hobbies into careers – hence we see the popularity in websites that enable people to sell their crafty creations worldwide.
So what does this respect for creativity in all aspects of millennials lives mean for marketers? And what could they be doing more of?
Marketers need to start taking more creative risks again. Millennials simply don’t notice marketing messages that aren’t innovative or different.
Advertising becomes invisible. Yet there is still relatively little acknowledgement that behaving and thinking creatively is imperative when speaking to millennials, particularly in more traditional industries.
Millennials also want to be a part of the creative process, whether that be through co-creation, open coding or allowing millennials to play with creative content, or make their own.
These are the things that millennials admire. Be where they are, build media strategies from the smartphone out.
Talk to them as equals, and as the Facebook IQ research highlighted, have respect and empathy for what is the most educated, and creative generation yet.
Hanna Chalmers is international research director at IPG Mediabrands' Initiative