Narcissism. Selfies. Avocado toast.
To take the stereotypes at face value would be to assume that the vast majority of Millennials are lazy, entitled cultural and political liberals, obsessed with trivial social media fads, head-in-the-clouds leftwing politics, and leading la-di-da lives of leisure.
But for influencers and advertisers to take the Millennial stereotypes at face value would be for them to miss a number of messaging opportunities that look increasingly more lucrative with each passing year. Shifting cultural perspectives and political and economic realities are changing how America’s young people view the world and respond to certain types of advertising, and these dynamic changes are opening up new opportunities for influencers and advertisers who have the eye to recognize them and the preparedness to seize them.
In fact, cultural trends indicate that the Millennials and post-Millennial Gen Z generation may be more conservative – and thus, more receptive to conservative-minded messaging – than ever before. The Millennial entrepreneurial spirit and “startup culture” lead to the direct creation of the sharing economy, which has already revolutionized entire sectors of the economy through technology. And Millennials are more conservative than previous generations were at their respective ages, indicating that, as they age, Millennials are indeed growing more conservative at a higher rate than those generations that came before them.
Among the youngest Americans, the evidence is even clearer: eight-in-ten Gen Z’ers identify as “fiscally conservative,” and at least one study has proven that it’s not just talk. Gen Z’ers are already practicing fiercely fiscally conservative values, including saving for retirement and viewing skyrocketing college tuition costs with a deep skepticism not found in their generational predecessors. From a cultural standpoint, regular church attendance among Gen Z’ers doubles that of Millennials; sobriety among these young people is up, and sexual promiscuity is down.
Do these cultural and political shifts toward more-conservative attitudes and behaviors mean that all Millennials and Gen Z’ers are now MAGA-hat-wearing Republicans? Of course not. But they do mean that the stereotypes about these generations don’t paint the whole picture, and that a bevy of exciting, new, and profitable opportunities await those advertisers and influencers who are ready, willing, and able to reach younger audiences in creative new ways that speak to their latent conservative sensibilities. As America’s youngest generations mature and come of voting, marriage, and homeowning age, it’s likely that these trend lines will only continue, and that the Millennials and Gen Z’ers may find themselves more openly interested in messaging that speaks to the conservative attitudes they didn’t even know they had.