"Big Four" Highlights


The Other 58%

New survey questions some standard stereotypes about millennials

By Jason Godin

Demographic data about today’s 18 to 29-year-olds – more commonly called the millennial generation – is open to easy stereotypes. Ethnically and racially diverse. Highly educated. Extremely optimistic despite high debt levels and employment obstacles. Digital natives with transparent, integrated social networks, as well as low levels of religious affiliation.

Yet these general labels are now worth questioning, if we follow the findings of a new survey on millennial digital identity and behavior.

Carat, a London-based global media marketing company, recently published internal analytical research on 14,000 millennials aged 15-34 in a report titled “The Millennial Disconnect.” Using self-reported attitudinal, motivational and media receptivity data, the survey found that the approximately 85 million millennials globally fell into four specific – and surprising – profiles.

The August 2015 issue of Advertising Age summarized the survey by categorizing millennials in the following way:

“Trend-Netters” (42%) – This is the conventional view of millennials, who the report defined as “digital extroverts spreading trends and experiences.” The group constantly uses “devices to review, endorse and share” and likes “brands that communicate luxury and status.” They are “fashionable, pop culture-savvy and impulse driven.”

“Alter-Natives” (23%) – This cohort is composed of the “non-conformist digital native” defined by acute privacy awareness. These millennials “only want to share with select people” and “only let us know what they wanted us to know,” feeling “comfortable online on their own terms.” They largely “live at home with parents, use older gadgets and prefer transparent brands.”

“Lifeprenuers” (19%) – This group establishes boundaries for the sake of balancing work, home and health, and is labeled as “old world with a twist.” They use coupons, liking brands both reliable and practical, and prove unafraid with “stepping away” from technology.

“BetaBlazers” (16%) – The last group detailed by the report were “trendsetters with an adventurous spirit,” who read “high-brow and niche publications” with diverse viewpoints.” “They’re really the ones that are about story-driven brands.”

It seems to me that there’s more than business marketing value to the Carat report findings. They introduce an opportunity to reimagine future forecasts on organized religious affiliation. Consider perceiving millennials less as “Trend-Netters” and more as “Alter-Natives,” “Lifeprenuers” and “BetaBlazers” – collectively the other 58% or approximately 49 million surveyed by Carat. Would that perspective change the overall outlook about our success or failure in passing the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church on to millennials?

It would, by moving us a bit away from a sense of catastrophic crisis to a view of careful confidence. To echo St. Peter: “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).

Earlier this year Pew Research reported just 16% of U.S. millennials identified themselves as Catholic in 2014 – suggesting a time of trial ahead, to be sure. But the latest survey numbers from Carat open opportunities to talk about the ton of other twenty- and thirty-somethings who do identify with Catholicism. A numerical minority today may convince them that it just isn’t worth all the effort to say “yes” to religious creed and conviction on their social media profiles, to quickly reject old institutions for new trends.  

Let us dare to do different. Let us start constructing a faith-filled culture with Catholic millennials, in a spirit of hope and love, so we can rejoice tomorrow with a majority that says otherwise.

Jason Godin is managing editor of Fathers for Good.