Sep 13, 2019 | By Athena Chen
Canadian Millennials are a diverse group with varying social values but can be divided into six clear tribes, including Engaged Idealists, Bros and Brittanys, and Lone Wolves, according to a new survey.
The study of 2,000 people was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, with The Counselling Foundation of Canada, RBC, the McConnell Family Foundation and Apathy is Boring.
So what have we found out? While Millennials may share some common experiences and aspirations, there are notable differences in outlook and life path across the tribes.
The biggest group, Bros & Brittanys (32% of Millennials), are avid risk-takers who pursue thrills and excitement, and are enthusiastic consumers. They work hard to get paid and have the lifestyle they want, embrace tech and appreciate social connectivity. Looking good and being respected is important and they stay on top of trends. They are not looking to change the world and sometimes they don’t feel in control of their destinies. Time for an escape and a little fun like catching a concert, beer and HD sports in the man cave or a girls’ night out are important to them.
Diverse Strivers (20%) say ’making it’ in life, and doing things that bring new and intense experiences are top priorities. They crave material success and push themselves to achieve it. They work hard and pursue personal challenges (like marathons or marathon hot yoga sessions). They strive to inspire respect in those closest to them by doing their duty, and being upstanding members of their families and communities. They take care to look good, and have the latest gadgets to maintain a sharp and successful appearance. They love crowds, attention and pursue intensity in all they do, and never stop building their resumés to satisfy their ambitions and impress others.
Engaged Idealists (17%) are ‘Millennials on steroids’, engaged, sociable, energetic, experience-seeking and idealistic. They believe in contributing as much as possible to their relationships, careers and communities and believe that their actions matter, shaping their lives and the world around them. They recognise that their environment is complex, but feel confident in their ability to navigate it. They want interesting, meaningful careers that let them express themselves and use the creativity that is central to their identity. Money is nice, but the quality of their work experiences is a higher priority. They also try to have time for spontaneous fun, which they see as an important part of a happy, balanced life.
Lone Wolves (16%) are deeply sceptical of authority, and lacking strong social and emotional connections, they resemble the stereotypical Gen Xers of the 1990s: cool and standoffish. They are solitary, and favour keeping life simple and straightforward. They are seldom involved in community events and rarely feel strongly connected to what’s going on in society at large. But they are not xenophobic or sexist. If disaffected Gen Xers’ motto was “Whatever,” Lone Wolves’ words to live by might be “I’m not hurting anyone. Just let me be.”
New Traditionalists (11%) hold many seemingly outdated values but their outlook also reflects some 21st century concerns, including an interest in environmental issues. They are more religious and spiritual and believe in staying true to the values with which they were brought up, particularly towards conservative family and gender roles. They respect authority figures, report a stronger sense of duty, and a greater sense of identification with family roots and ancestors.
And Critical Counter-culturists (4%), while by far the smallest of the segments, are key influencers. They are the engaged, critical young people sometimes featured in stories about 20-somethings building businesses, pursuing online activism, and shaking up the world. They share progressive values with Engaged Idealists on diversity and equality and reject discrimination and injustice. But while Engaged Idealists see the world through a social and emotional lens – striving to express their true selves – the gold standard for Critical Counter-culturists is clear-eyed rationality. They reject status and authority they see as illegitimate or superficial; they don’t mind leading when they can add value to a project, but would hate for someone to judge them by their jeans or smartphone.
So those are the differences, but what do all these groups have in common? Fewer than half of Canadian Millennials say they have enough money to live the kind of life they want, and many feel they are not doing as well as their parents did in their youth. But this generation is optimistic about future financial prospects, although this is most evident among those born outside Canada, and those with Asian or other non-white ethnic backgrounds.
Job satisfaction without taking work to extremes, and ‘giving back’ both count for this generation. They want a good balance between work and personal life, followed by financial security, wealth generation, and flexibility in the job. Making an important contribution to society is of strong importance to some Millennials.
One in four has been actively engaged in a cause or issue in the past year, mostly involving social justice, the environment, politics or healthcare. Such involvement is linked to education as well as social values.
There’s a fair amount of regret over the educational path they took. Just under half of Millennials with a post-secondary degree said they would have completed the same post-secondary education. But more would have followed a different path, either a different type of post-secondary education or something else instead of getting a degree.
Low voter turnout has earned Millennials a reputation for being disconnected from politics and current events, but this is more stereotype than reality. Most follow news and current events at least daily and “significant” numbers pay attention to politics at the local, national and international levels. Social media is the most common platform, but surprisingly large numbers also rely on such traditional media such as TV, print newspapers and radio.
And an overwhelming 96% of Millennials in the study defined having a steady job as the primary marker of adulthood – far more than owning a home, getting married or having children, which were key markers for previous generations.
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