Tag Archives: millennials

New Study Shows College Students Optimistic About Economic Future

Smiling college students during graduation


It is said youth is wasted on the young. According to a new qSample study, could it also mean that optimism is wasted on the young?

The answer is probably no, for college students have a focused, sober eye on economic issues and their incoming position in the workplace. Regardless of relatively uncertain economic and political times—that include student debt and soaring tuition—University students are mostly hopeful for their financial future.

The study was conducted using qSample’s college student sample, surveying more than 200 respondents on a range of social and economic topics. We surveyed respondents from our Campus Universe initiative—regularly utilized for varied studies for both academics and businesses.


College Student Views on Careers and the Economy



When asked about the future of the economy, 34% of college students held a positive view. Twenty-eight percent expressed a negative view, with 27% stating they were undecided. When asked how they would fare economically in comparison to their parents, 35% of respondents felt they would do better—with 29% feeling they would do worse and 12% not sure.

When asked about the most important issues of their times, here is how they responded:

1.  The economy/job growth – 29%
2.  Education reform/college debt relief – 25%
3.  Climate change – 23%
4.  Freedom/individual rights -14%
5.  Terrorism – 6%

College students also view the economy as the key issue when it comes to the upcoming presidential election:

1.  The economy – 43%
2.  Racial/equality issues – 26%
3.  National security – 13%
4.  Abortion/reproductive rights – 8%




College Student and Debt



One might think that college debt would be more at the forefront of the minds of college students. After all, the study revealed that a majority (25%) would owe between $50,001 and $75,000 once they graduated. Eighteen percent say they will owe less than $25,000 after graduating while 24% claimed they would owe no debt. Ten percent of college students stated they would owe more than $100,000 after graduation.

In a past qSample study, more than 30% of college students anticipated their loans to be paid off in 5-10 years, while 27% were unsure. Sixty-seven percent considered their amount of debt manageable, with the remaining students worried that their debt would become unmanageable amount.

In fact, 31% of participants indicated they worry “all the time” about the amount of debt are incurring while pursuing a higher education. Forty-eight percent of the college students worry “sometimes” and 21% “never” worry about their ability to repay their student loans.

One could surmise that college students are fixated on making enough money to show their debt was an investment. After all, it’s all business after graduation, according to the qSample findings. An overwhelming 71% of college students said their priority after graduation is finding work. Activism, relationship, traveling and other post-university goals all registered below ten percent in interest.


College Students and Social Issues



It’s not all Yuppiedom for college students. These are the rankings on how they would like to be viewed once leaving higher education:

1.  A good moral/ethical person – 37%
2.  Ability to make money – 29%
3.  An activist for social change – 13%
4.  A good spouse – 6%
5.  A social person with close friends – 5%
6.  A good father/mother – 3%

But who do college students look up to as they migrate into the workforce? When it comes to public figures, President Obama comes in first (35%) and Pope Francis in second (17%). All other public figures or celebrities scored less than ten percent, with the exception of Steve Jobs at 11% (who is no longer alive).

As for social media, the below graphic reveals college student attitudes towards social media in relation to society:






With a mind on money and a positive heart, the research should give hope to the country’s future. Millennials spend $600 million a year in the U.S. alone, with some estimates having them reach $3 billion in a decade as they begin to dominate the workforce. Thus, the economy should be in good hands, unless these graduates are hamstrung with the student debt and not enough salary growth.


Please enjoy our infographic below, based on our syndicated research on College Students and Stress:


College students and stress


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Millennials And Boomers: Two Sides Of The Same Marketing Coin


Millennials and Boomers. Two demographics separated by an ocean of time and the icebergs of Generation X. No way in this or any galaxy far away they could be similar.

Think again. Beyond the reality that both groups have a population nearing 77 million, they are oddly very similar. In fact, think hard again since Millennials and Boomers are two powerful consumer groups (as will be shown) whom deciphering could be a millennium boom for marketers.

As a company that manages both Millennial and Boomer panels for online research, we’ve noticed their similarities, and we are not alone.


Social Media and Technology



For starters, it’s no secret that Millennials are the sultans of social media. Yet qSample’s primary research reveals that Boomers are becoming extremely passionate about their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. They may not dig Snapchat like Millennials, but more than 27 million Boomers possess a social media account (and other data claims that 65% of Boomers have a Facebook account). When it comes to smartphones, Millennials win this game, as approximately 85% own a mobile device (only 47% of Baby Boomers own a smartphone, but they’re catching up).


diblert comic strip


Someone who has extensively analyzed both Millennials and Boomers is Sara Bamossy, a strategic planning director for Saatchi & Saatchi LA. She explains, “Both generations value technology. Sure there’s been a delay in Boomers adapting, but they are.”

The difference, according to Bamossy, is that Boomers are more careful and less organic when it comes to technology, but in the end just as embracing.


Social Issues and Transformation



Where Millennials and Boomers truly connect is in their altruism. Yes, both generations are lambasted for being egotistical, hence the titles of the “Me” and “Selfie” generations. That’s more of a myth, though. Our research has shown that Baby Boomers are extremely socially-conscious. As an illustration, 89% of Baby Boomers want to improve energy dependence while 84% feel it’s important to use green energy. As we’ve also reported, Millennials are just as socially-conscious, to the point it deeply influences their buying decisions.

Here is more information on Boomers and green technology:

boomers & green4

Beyond our data, here are some other similarities between Millennials and Boomers:

–  Both are deeply informed by the opinions of their family and friends (unlike Gen Xers, who just don’t care).
–  Both are loyal to the brands of their parents or family.
–  Both tend to be frugal, enjoying the thrill of bargain hunting and showrooming.

As for politics and civics, Millennials and Boomers are somewhat different (beyond the fact that one demographic looks like Bernie Sanders while the other supports him). This chart from the National Conference of Citizenship offers their differences when it comes to civic engagement:


millennial baby boomer political engagement


Why The Similarities?



One could draw parallels of Millennials and Boomers from the societal events in their respective times:

–  Both grew up in strong economic times (the 50s for Boomers, early 2000s for Millennials).
–  Both grew up during questionable wars and shadowy enemies (Vietnam War/Communism for Boomers, the Iraq War/Terrorism for Millennials).
–  Both face seemingly corrupt governments and financial institutions (too many to mention here).
–  Both, for some reason, possess nicknames that originate with the counterculture movement of underground Jazz and drugs, the beatnik worlds of Kerouac and Ginsberg (Hippy for Boomers and Hipster for Millennials). Yet both have a strong tendency to act more like Yuppies when it comes to careers.

These reasons are just speculation. In the end, this is subject for anthropologists and social scientists. When it comes to marketing research, what is most relevant is that both Millennials and Boomers are powerful consumer blocs. Boomers annually spend $3 trillion in the U.S. alone, while Millennials spend $600 million (but some estimates have them matching Boomers within the next decade). Both groups dominate 70% of disposable income.





Perhaps it would be wise for qualitative researchers to find out why Boomers and Millennials are similar in their spending habits. This would go a long way in streamlining marketing efforts, provide rich Venn Diagrams that could save budgets in advertising campaigns.

Hopefully, as the world caters to the dollars of Millennials and Boomers, someone will leave Gen Xers with some crumbs, like a few Nirvana albums or plaid shirts.


All About Millennials

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How Virtual Reality Is Transforming Market Research


Certain trends seem to surge and sputter, and then surge and sputter. Two examples might be 3D movies and Ska. The most recent instance is virtual reality, which surged at times in the 90s and 2000s but then sputtered without adhering to mass culture. Virtual reality is back again, with somewhat of a vengeance, highlighted by such technologies as Facebook’s Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR.

Will virtual reality stick this time? Only time will tell, but it’s already influencing market research and could potentially inform survey research.

In a GreenBook article, editor-in-chief Leonard Murphy makes a strong case that virtual reality is now valuable for market research. Some companies are presently investing heavily on its benefits. Murphy’s findings are largely based on research by Rutgers, and here are his main takeaways:

Approximately 70% of brand decisions occur when consumers are already inside a store. Many consumers wait until the last minute to make a decision. Therefore, no amount of market research preparation can fully overcome the mentioned percentage, except for virtual reality, which can simulate buyer’s journeys in a store in real-time and in-depth behavior.

–  Virtual reality seamlessly incorporates into already-proven technologies like eye tracking and heat maps, in order to gain a comprehensive view of the consumer subconscious desires. As an example, Cadbury has combined these technologies with virtual reality to decipher product shelf placing.
–  In virtual reality shopper simulation, multiple scenarios can be executed. This ultimately may be cost effective for businesses in research projects.
–  Virtual reality focus groups cost 50% less than traditional focus groups, and yield the same accuracy of data.

The pixel-sky is the limit. Virtual reality can be employed beyond just the shopping experience— such as new product concept testing, customer experience model testing and restaurant menu optimization/pricing.

Contrary to some market research Luddites, it should be mentioned that being placed in a virtual world (or The Matrix) is not detrimental to providing accurate responses. As a recent report from a market research company explained, nearly a quarter of consumers feel that virtual interactions are as good as “being there.” The numbers are higher for millennials. Thus, the future implies that virtual scenarios do not pose a problem for researchers.

Nevertheless, could virtual reality pertain to quantitative research? Of course. Google Glass may have been a failure, but it taught that individuals are capable of inputting data while simultaneously interacting with the “real world.” Questionnaires, then, can flash before respondents in virtual settings and completed in real-time. Moreover, the trending issue with widespread consumer rejection of surveys (which we reported on) could also be solved as surveys become far more entertaining and engaging at the same time.

Virtual reality surveys are basically an actual reality, as seen by this graphic from the Lieberman Research Institute:

virtual reality in online surveys

Again, the pixel-sky is the limit. The question remains on whether virtual reality will remain as more than an ephemeral fashion. One figure who is publicly skeptic about virtual reality is computer genius and tech entrepreneur Walter O’Brien (television show Scorpion is based on him). During a recent interview on the Tim Ferris podcast, O’Brien bemoaned the fact that virtual reality has not evolved that much from its 90s incarnation. The technology still needs much more of a “wow” factor, according to him.

Even the buzz on virtual reality appears nonexistent, perhaps due to the past incarnations of the technology. As recent Horizon Media study found that two-thirds of Americans are either unaware of uncaring about having virtual reality.

Following the money trail says otherwise, though. As Murphy explains in the GreenBook article, virtual reality is estimated to generate $30 billion in revenues by 2020. Much of this is due to the increasing reliance of market research projects for this technology.

In essence, market research has time to embrace virtual reality, and those in survey research can get excited at presenting some exciting surveys that improve overall data quality.

Even Ska could be played in the background…

The Train Wreck Reason Trump And Sanders Are So Insanely Popular

Smoky train crash with Sanders and Trump floating in smoke


As the political primaries heat up, little doubt exists on the public’s captivation with presidential candidates Donald Trump (Republican) and Bernie Sanders (Democrat). Trump has kindled a feverish right-wing populism never seen before in this nation, while Sanders “berns” the passion of millennials and staunch progressives. Although both individuals are galaxies apart in their ideology, a major reason for their attention is shared in a quality as American as apple pie:

The love for the outlaw and antihero.

How could this be? After all, the two candidates are as establishment as one can get. Trump is a seasoned businessperson entrenched in extroverted capitalism; Sanders is a senator with decades of political experience in Washington DC. Perception is reality, though, and the reality is that the two men have carefully marketed themselves as unadulterated outsiders. It makes sense. According to Gallup, 65% of Americans are dissatisfied with the government—the highest rate ever polled.

However, simply branding oneself as antiestablishment would make a Tea Party darling like Ted Cruz a shoe in for the Republican candidacy. The same could be said for any Libertarian/Green candidate out there. That hasn’t happened.

It has to be more than the current bad political mood of voters, then. Trump and Sanders aren’t just perceived as foreigners to politics as usual, but outlaws and antiheroes in all their romance, as will be demonstrated.


What do you mean by outlaws and antiheroes?



By outlaw, I don’t mean a criminal—but certainly an individual that stands on the fringes of societal norms, near the borders of amoral deserts. America was founded on gritty pioneers and explorers, wily figures that forged their way to new frontiers at any cost, legal or illegal. In the bestselling book, Everyone Loves a Train Wreck, Eric Wilson describes our infatuation for the outlaw:

Think of our vexed cultural relationship to the cowboy. We might disapprove of his lawless gun slinging and Indian killing, but we laud his indifference to the East Coast status quo and his fearless trekking into the Western wilds.

The outlaw, in all of his or her dangerous curiosity and individualism, is just an archetype that Americans relate to, even if they don’t consciously embrace. Furthermore, knowing that the outlaw’s ending will likely be memorable (but perhaps not positive) arrests our attention…like stopping to see a train wreck. Edward Snowden or your classic country music protagonist are two obvious American examples. This reminds me of a quote by Tom Robbins, “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules.”

Then there is the antihero. Medical Daily defines the antihero as “Someone who straddles the line between deviant morality and a justified cause, reminding us of the flaws inherent in our own behavior.”

The attraction is easy to see: We simultaneously escape and test our moral principles through the narrative of the antihero. It’s cathartic and educational at the same time. We project our darkest desires onto the antihero in order to reflect upon them. We love their shooting from the hip, their bravado, and their continual emigration from constricting community constructs. As illustrations, one just has to think of Walter White in Breaking Bad or Don Draper in Mad Men.


But does all of this apply to Trump and Sanders?



With Trump, it seems obvious. His career has been one of taming cattle in the Wild West that is the real estate world and verbal gun fighting in corporate boardrooms. His policies tap into the dark corners of many voters’ psyches: the concern with immigration, the fear of terrorism, the seemingly dusk of an empire. Thus, in a deeply symbolical way, Trump is both an outlaw and antihero. His political incorrectness is liberating for many in a social media inquisition climate, while his policies are purgative to others.

What about Sanders? How can an affable, patriotic and polite senior citizen fall outside the rubric of the mainstream? Ironically, an anti-American quality makes him so American in his outlaw and antihero characteristics: socialism. Sanders heavily leans towards socialistic policies; and according to a Gallup poll socialism is the least popular quality of any political candidate (50% of voters say they would not vote for a socialist). That makes him an outlaw of sorts, an antihero to the American consciousness—and of course attractive to younger, more rebellious demographics.

Also, Sanders’ message and persona harken to some of the classic fringe elements of recent American history: the hippie, the beatnik, the pacifist. He is an individual who also wants to bring more European elements to government (importing Danish economics, for example), just as the original explorers brought European elements to North America. Despite his calm reputation, Sanders, like Trump, is notorious for shouting down those who confront him publicly (even constituents). Lastly, his campaign has made a huge effort in leveraging perhaps the most lawless and perilous frontier today: the internet.





Machiavelli famously mused on whether an individual benefited more from being loved or hated. In these short-attention-span, information-overload times, I would say that fascination is the ultimate benefit. Fascination earns zealous attention without needing the soul-commitment of either love or hate. Trump and Sanders are swimming in oceans of fascination, partly because of the uniting streams of American folklore and psychology. This means that many enthusiasts assume their candidacies will end in a train wreck, with more establishment candidates taking the party nominations.

Regardless, the outlaw and antihero motifs have served Trump and Sanders well. They served past candidates such as Obama or Reagan, both who early in their candidacies branded themselves as outsiders ready to gun duel established government systems. Neither Obama nor Reagan was as radical as Trump or Sanders, mind you. Yet these are radical times when a restless electorate seeks more for a gun-slinging attitude than an apple pie mentality.




Baby Boomers Love Social Media And Tech (Video & Infographic)

Elderly couple using smartphone for a selfie

One of the enemies of market research could easily be conventional wisdom. Perception becomes reality often in the public flow, but that reality is far removed from accurate data. That is how we got the Edsel, Pepsi Clear, Robin Thicke and other poorly-researched products that at one point just seemed…conventionally wise?

At qSample, our research has combatted conventional wisdom for the betterment of clients. Our research showed, before its release, that the Apple Watch would flounder. It also revealed that Millennials are an economic yet altruistic force, today’s college students are not that stressed out, and Ivy League graduates are quite idealistic.

No, we don’t have a preference for the younger generation. Our many specialty panels prove this. As a matter of fact, this week we move into the golden years and focus on baby boomers. Since they make up 42% of the adult population, market researchers should evermore pay heed to their consumer needs.

When it comes to embracing these modern times, baby boomers are far from Sophia in Golden Girls. Here are some examples:

 47% own a smartphone
–  72% have broadband in their homes
  27.4 million engage in some form of social media
  They prefer LinkedIn the most, with Facebook coming in second (don’t even worry about this, Snapchat)
 82% research wellness and health information online

Baby boomers are also very socially-conscious. But talk is cheap and conventional wisdom is seductive, so we the skinny on baby boomers in both video and infographic.

Enjoy, and let us know if you need one of our specialty panels for that accurate data needed in your market research or Robin Thicke playlist. Here is the video:

And here is the infographic:

http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Baby-Boomers-Go-Green-1-Final.png, http://blog.qsample.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/4-Senses-of-Buying-Decisions-3-1.png

what makes consumers buy green products graphic

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The Growing Idealism of Ivy League Graduates

Group of executives under a glowing Ivy League Banner

A famous quote misattributed to Winston Churchill goes: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”

That might not be the case, though, when it comes Ivy League graduates. These noted alumni may not be more liberal, in a conventional sense. However, a recent study—conducted by the Ivy League Magazine Network in collaboration with qSample—reveals they are quite the idealists. That’s certainly a reflection of the socially responsible Millennials whom qSample also researched.

With a median household income of over $190,000 and a median net worth of $900,000, Ivy League graduates are a uniquely influential and affluent demographic. This data ought to make them appealing to marketers. If their views move towards that of the forward-looking yet also economically-influential Millennials, the entire marketing industry should pay heed.

qSample surveyed readers from the eight Ivy League Magazines. The online study consisted of data collected from more than 1500 survey participants—all graduates of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.


Idealism in Healthcare


As an example of an idealist bent, specifically in the holistic attitude popular today, a larger number (88%) of Ivy League Grads state that eating right is essential for good health. Additionally, 75% feel that exercise is also conducive to an overall good health. A much smaller percentage (17%) find that using advanced medicine or popular medical brands is key to good health. One doesn’t have to look farther than data from Harvard Magazine, an Ivy League mainstay, to see that a more natural, less intrusive approach to healthcare is a growing trend in the nation.

The following graph expands on the healthcare preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:


Graphs showing Ivy League Health Habits


 Idealism in Shopping


Does an idealistic outlook already embraced by Millennials and other demographics translate to shopping behavior for Ivy League graduates?

Not exactly. It’s not too far, either. 60% of respondents from the qSample study claim they exclusively buy American products. That’s a relatively high percentage, higher than the 45% of general consumers that buy American products only, according to Gallup. However, this percentage is still in the middle the pack in of the study. Here are the top preferences when it comes to favoring a brand:

92% Stick with a brand once they like it
91% Prefer brands from a company they trust, even if it is slightly more expensive
89% Don’t mind paying for brands that are high-quality
89% Like to compare brands before making a decision
65% Prefer brands that reflect their lifestyle


Idealism in Technology


These days, technology is considered successful not just for its capabilities but also its altruistic qualities. An example would be Google and its mission statement to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It was an almost-graduate from an Ivy League school, Bill Gates, who famously said: “If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in real trouble.”

In that respect, Ivy League graduates may not be that engaged with technology, or more like haven’t fully embraced their inner geek. Only 39% of respondents state they find themselves the first in their social caste to purchase new technology, even if 54% said they prefer cutting-edge technology.

These statistics don’t mean Ivy League graduates are behind times when it comes to technology and its benefits. As we reported in our study An Ivy League of their Own:

Over 75% of respondents are active on social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most popular social media sites among participants, with 60% on Facebook and 56% on LinkedIn. However, usage of social media varied from panel-to-panel with Brown Alumni more like to use Facebook (69%).

Moreover, when it comes to mobile devices:

Over the next 12 months, 76% of participants own or plan to purchase a smartphone and 70% own or plan to purchase a tablet computer. Among smartphone users, iPhone and Android operating systems are the most popular operating systems with 63% of respondents using iPhones and 20% Android.


Idealism in Life


The true measure of the idealism of Ivy League graduates is clearly reflected when asked about their guiding principles in life. At equally in the 99% mark in preference, these were the top ten:

Honesty: being sincere, having integrity
– Knowledge: being well educated
– Authenticity: being true to myself
– Learning: continuing to learn throughout my life
– Enjoying life: doing things because I like them
– Curiosity: wanting to explore and learn about new things
– Helpfulness: making the effort to assist others
– Working hard: always giving my best effort
– Open-mindedness: being broad-minded

Below that, friendship followed (98%). At the bottom of the list of guiding principles were Ambition (69%) and Social Status (37%).

One could argue that being socially responsible requires the ability to take a risk (as Bill Gates and others did). Ivy League graduates seem to have that inclination of risk taking, according to the study. They’re not all about “playing it safe” in all aspects as with their cars. This sensibility is illustrated in their vacation patterns—as a vast majority (68%) enjoy traveling to new destinations. 60% plan to travel outside the country this year for pleasure. In fact, when surveyed about general attitudes on life, 88% say they enjoy trying new things.

This graph presents the vacation preferences of Ivy Leauge graduates:


Ivy League Graphs on Vacation preferences




Will this data translate into socially responsible actions by Ivy League graduates?

It already has, it appears. 77% say they volunteer in their community, with 43% doing so on a regular basis.

These takeaways at the very least dispel the notion of Ivy League graduates as stern agents of the status quo, or as simply being interested in their pursuits. They appear to be part of a more socially responsible society, starting to tap into their inner geek.

Interestingly enough and going back to the mentioned quote, one historian claimed that Churchill had “been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35.”

In other words, Churchill would likely have felt in good company with today’s Ivy League graduates.


what makes consumers buy green products graphic


Homebuyers Are Green For Green Homes (SlideShare)

Woman underneath drawing of house in green landscape

Buying Green has been a popular trend for decades, even if the term isn’t universally agreed upon or even understood. According to research, both secondary and qSample’s primary, homeowners and homebuyers can define Green. And they want it more than ever when it comes to living arrangements. This includes various demographics, including the spectrums of baby boomers and millennials.

These qualitative and quantitative findings are explained in our newest SlideShare presentation, which is as colorful as the rich Green consumer movement.


what makes consumers buy green products graphic

Infographic of the Week: The Power of Millennials

In our recent Are Millennials Ruining the World? we had a little fun with public perception and our primary research gleaned from qSample’s college student and millennial panels.

No, millennials are not ruining the world but they will come close to being the world, as revealed by this week’s friendly neighborhood infographic.

Here are just some of the amazing takeaways on millennials:

 Expected to reach $200 billion in spending by 2017, the largest consumer generation in U.S. History.
– 85% own smartphones.
 One-fourth speaks a language other than English at home.
– 77 million, making up approximately one-fourth of the U.S. population.

They’re everywhere, and they are very plugged-in to their mobile devices – something qSample is very aware of as we specialize in mobile research. No matter where you are in market research, you might want to get plugged into millennials because sooner or later you will fall into their web.

But Nuff said, as Stan Lee would say. Here is the Millennial selfie:

All About Millennials

College Students Button


Infographic of the Week: College Students & Stress

Everyone has a lot of stress and stress is damaging to our health. That’s a great trope in our culture.

It’s not entirely true, though. Or as Mike Myers, in his famous incarnation of Linda Richman in Coffee Talk, might say: “Stress is neither in everyone nor that stressful.”

That and today’s college culture is addressed in this week’s infographic, from our primary research found in Are College Students More Stressed Out Than Ever?  Youth may be wasted on the young, but college is perhaps wasted on those who are about to get schooled by the workforce. In between, we find some insights on Millennials, undergraduate habits, and stress in general…with our comical comic-book infographic.


College students and stress

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Are Millennials Ruining The World?

Those darn young people are at it again, ruining everything! If it weren’t for you meddling kids, the rest of the world could get away with being successful.

At least that seems to be the attitude these days—as continuous stories emerge carping about Millennials (or Generation Y). They’re lazy, entitled, selfish. We at qSample are not entirely beyond that, even if it’s with sound data, demonstrated in our article Millennials and Holiday Shopping:

A recent study from Hanover research reveals that that millennials live and shop in the moment, often making purchases and dealing with the repercussions later. The study also shows that 52% of Millennials were more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation.

The apex of this collective Millennial buffaloing might have been the piece in a May issue of Time, entitled The Me, Me, Me Generation.

The article wasn’t exactly flattering, and it’s illustrated by its cover provided below—with the selfie as the perennial symbol of the alleged narcissism of Millennials:

Time cover with millennial taking a selfie









But it is true? Many Millennials would disagree. Tech Marketer Scott Hogan is one of them. He pushed back in an insightful LinkedIn Pulse article, detailing how Millennials are actually responsible members of the commercial and cultural ecosystems. Some of his evidence included:

Millennials are more prone to support socially-responsible products (like Tom’s Shoes and other brands that actively support charities and environmental causes).
Millennials are expected to reach $200 billion in spending by 2017, the largest consumer generation in U.S. History.
– Millennials are the masters of technology, which will make them the best possible members of the workforce.

So who’s right?

In the end, probably both viewpoints. It’s a matter of perspective.

No way, some in the older generations will insist, barking that it began with the hippy-sell-outs-turned-yuppies; and it just keeps getting worse with each decade. Millennials are the culmination of too much spoiling and touchy-feely psychology. They are an unprecedented threat to western culture, the end of history!

No, no…it really is a matter of perspective. There is nothing new under the sun, as seen by this quote:

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no respect for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior and dress.

—Peter the Hermit, eleventh century AD

If you still feel we haven’t gone back enough to the “good old days,” how about this:

Our young men have grown slothful. There is not a single honorable occupation for which they will toil night and day. They sing and dance and grow effeminate and curl their hair and learn womanish tricks of speech; they are as languid as women and deck themselves out with unbecoming ornaments. Without strength, without energy, they add nothing during life to the gifts with which they were born—then they complain of their lot.

― Seneca, first century AD

Wow, looks like the ancient Romans had their own hippies and selfies and overall belfie attitude…at least in the view of the “real” grownups.
But it had to do with that immoral Roman Empire, right? Instead, the birthplace of Democracy and Reason possessed the blueprint for a healthy society. Not so fast! Look at this quote by arguably the greatest thinker in history:

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.

― Socrates, 5th century BC

We can go back even farther to one of the fathers of poetry:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.

― Hesiod, 8th century BC

Guess the ancient Greek whippersnappers were constantly wasting their lives on marble versions of Snapchat and Instagram, impulsively buying real Amazons instead of shopping at Amazon like Millennials do today.

Fine, we older ones might admit, but at some point in society the younger generations were restrained and dutiful, in a time of steely kings and primitive habits.

Sorry to disappoint, but no:

Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

― Assyrian Clay Tablet, 2800 BC

Sheesh…ancient forms of Y2K or a Mayan Apocalypse, surely caused by a bratty younger generation. If only Kindle could go back in time to assist all those people wanting to write books! The horror!

I hope you see my point. Millennials aren’t the problem and they are—because they are part of the natural cycle of societal evolution. In the end, the Time article does agree with Hogan: Millennials will ultimately leave a beneficial footprint on this era (just as earlier generations did during their heyday). Millennials will leave their mark, mostly positive and partly negative. Regardless, the world will not end because of them, as it didn’t during Assyrian times.

Millennials will surely complain about the generation that follows, even if they happen to be on a base on Mars…or in a future article of Time.

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