What are the biggest differences between Millennial parents and their predecessors?
There are certainly some key differences between Millennial parents and Gen X parents. Millennials tend to reject the quality over quantity mantra of their own upbringing and mourn the lost moments with their own parents. As a consequence, simply being there – quality AND quantity forms the basis of millennial parenting. They are also the first generation to be completely aware of the pros and cons of raising children in a fully-formed digital world. The impact of social media, always-on news and alerts are a particular worry. And when it comes to the important things in life for their children to have Millennials certainly diverge from parents who have gone before putting mental health and happiness as priorities. They are also much more likely to rate gaining life skills above a formal education – in direct contrast to their Gen X predecessors.
Why is this news important for brands to know?
The implications of Millennial parenting in raising Gen Alpha are many but to highlight a few:
Brands may need to rethink their competitor sets when it comes to reaching Millennial parents who are displaying a growing desire to seek out “local” trusted sources and micro-influencers who speak directly to them and their lives. Authenticity is key with Millennials keen to see the messy, unfiltered side of parenting.
User generated content and how brands ask consumers to interact with them will have to change. Millennial parents are less likely to expose themselves to judgement online and are looking for more controlled experiences from brands to share their parenting triumphs and tribulations. Closed groups on social media platforms or direct messages are preferred by Millennial parents and brands will need to understand how to use them.
Being the authority does not equal having authority. The bigger your brand the less likely Millennial parents and their Gen A offspring are to trust you. Their challenger personalities are more likely to embrace the outsider – witness the founders of PRIME Hydration, Logan Paul and KSI’s stated mission, “As underdogs, we always cherish the opportunity to show the world what’s possible… surpassing some of the biggest beverage companies in the world”. In recent months the pair have built a drinks brand from scratch and created the most sought after product amongst kids for the past few years.
What are the biggest misconceptions about this demographic?
Well apart from the “snowflake” description often used to describe Millennials, the misconception that they have a sense of entitlement or are not interested in politics. In our Raising Gen Alpha Study we found Millennial parents to be considered, researched parents willing to roll up their sleeves and help their Gen A kids navigate and embrace the modern world. I think the entitled label comes from their unwillingness to accept the status quo and authority and simply find another way. A great example of this is their disillusionment with the education system (here and in the US) and their belief that it is not preparing children for a future in the modern world. Consequently, home and alternative schooling is on the increase on both sides of the Atlantic and parents are embracing their kids’ talents with an eye on future careers. In this willingness to challenge structure and authority they are highly political.
How can brands best target and tap into this demographic?
Quite simply understand them and challenge misconceptions. Respect them as parents and give them back the power they are so desperate to reclaim – many Millennial parents feel that big brands and in particular the tech brands are eroding their ability to parent and decide what is best for their child. And in this, there is real opportunity because Millennials are highly pragmatic when it comes to technology and would be willing partners with brands they trust.
Finally, acknowledge the extremely close relationship Millennial parents and their Gen A kids share. Gen A kids hold more power within the household and are listened to in a way that previous generations are not. The learning within a Millennial/Gen A household flows up as well as down. 24% of UK kids aged 7 -14 have already attended a march or a protest and the remainder are changing the world quietly within their own families. With small acts of rebellion, they are challenging inappropriate language and stereotypes, calling out racism and maybe simply asking adults to pick up their litter. This is why in this study we found that 69% of Millennial parents admitted that their child influences them to make better decisions for the planet – and consequently their children’s futures.