Millennials are getting a bad rap at the moment. Published opinion seems to agree that the whole lot of them are selfie-obsessed, entitled, online addicted, and avocado toast munching Instagramaniacs.
You don’t need a degree in sociology to understand that those are crude oversimplifications and that painting a whole generation with one brush is scientifically unsound. Having said that, when we first had our own closer look at the successors to the “Generation X”, we did notice one thing above all else that most of them had in common:
Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on physical goods. Status symbols of old – fancy cars, expensive shoes, you name it – have been replaced with photos on Facebook showing off the fun they had at that latest secret gig, the abandoned beach in Thailand or the unforgettable hipster pop-up dinner in Shoreditch.
This phenomenon was so surprising that people coined a term for it: the Experience Economy. And it partly explains the explosion of the number and variety of festivals we see today – which in itself is not all good news and worthy of a separate article. Suffice to say that events and experiences play a very important role in the life of Millennials and that they’re quite happy to pay for the privilege.
So roughly two years after our initial study, we decided to once again have a closer look at Millennials. This time, we wanted to challenge associations of Millennials as phone addicts who prefer the digital to the real world. We spoke to 1,023 Millennials (men and women aged 21-37) who have been to at least one festival, gig or concert, nightclub, rave, immersive experience, event or talk/class in the last year (62% of Millennials met these criteria). Fieldwork took place between 31st July and 4th August 2017. In addition to the quantitative research, we spoke to three experts to lend qualitative insights to our findings:
- Dr Ben Fincham, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at The University of Sussex and author of The Sociology of Fun
- Jools Butterfield, Head of Operations for Lovebox & Citadel Festivals (Mama Group: Wilderness, Lovebox Festival, Citadel Festival, Hammersmith Apollo, The Forum)
- Nichi Hodgson, consultant for dating app Inner Circle, author of The Curious History of Dating, journalist for The Guardian, Vice, The Telegraph and more
Download the full report below to get insights on:
A growing experience economy – The numbers of people going out are up vs a year ago, and there’s a desire to do more; as well as a willingness to make sacrifices in day to day life to fund it.
Desire for event diversity – Millennials are going out to a wide range of festivals and events – from music festivals to immersive experiences and wellness events. They’re fulfilling different needs for them: to meet people, to find love, to get out of their comfort zone, and to indulge themselves.
Rise of wellness – Healthy lifestyles are up, alcohol consumption is down; and not because Millennials are bothered about how they look on social media. Events are playing a key role in this rise of wellness.
Keeping it real – One of the reasons for the drop in drinking is that Millennials want to enjoy (and remember) the moment more; they’re even willing to turn off their phone to avoid distractions. They’re also keeping things real, preferring real-life romantic encounters over dating apps, with festivals and events playing a crucial role in matchmaking.
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