Millennials and Money: The Statistics You Need to Know

Millennials. The mere mention of the word conjures a curious mix of images and stereotypes - basically, young people with questionable facial hair and odd taste in music wearing their grandparent's clothes and living in their parents' basement. They're the consumers of the future, but they're already flexing a lot of spending muscle - it's just that they're so hard to peg. What motivates them? How can they be reached?

They're such a mystery we can't even agree on exactly what defines a millennial. Some say it's those born between 1976 and 2001, others are adamant it's only those between 1980 and 2000.

Regardless, trends and statistics are beginning to paint some somewhat consistent pictures. First, the basics:

  • They represent $1.3 trillion in annual consumer spending (Boston Consulting Group)
  • 38% are from backgrounds other than American Caucasian (Nielsen)
  • 23% of them have at least a bachelor's degree (Nielsen)
  • 74% of them are employed (Nielsen)
  • On average, they earn between $25,000 and $48,000 (Nielsen)
  • 94% consider themselves to be financially responsible (Lab42)

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It's the largest and most ethnically diverse generation in American history, as well as the most educated. The problem is they've been walking out of college into a less-than-awesome economy, so they're forced into fiscal responsibility and cutting corners.

  • 89% create a budget (only 20% always stick to it) (Lab42)
  • They average $23,332 of debt (Experian)
  • 57% of millennials believe they are in better financial shape than their friends (Lab42)
  • 55% of them have borrowed money from a parent (Lab42)


The result is 79 million adults habituated to saving money anywhere and everywhere they can. They're into getting a great deal so they can put the money to better use in the future.

  • They check prices twice as often as Boomers (Boston Consulting Group)
  • 42% consult four or more services before making a purchase (Edelman)
  • 66% save extra money from a paycheck (Lab42)
  • 83% budget a specific amount each month to pay off debt (Lab42)
  • If given money, 42% would use it to pay off debt (UBS)
  • 48% say financial freedom is their ultimate financial goal, compared to only 12% who dream of acquiring luxury items (UBS)
  • 69% say "working hard" is how they'll achieve success, and 45% say "saving money" (UBS)

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Even though they're into saving money, they'll spend on something they think is worthwhile. Like a smartphone (then use that to help them save money)

  • 76% own a smartphone (Nielsen)
  • 45% access coupons via email on mobile devices (Valassis)
  • 63% are more likely to buy something if they receive a coupon on their mobile device while near a store (RetailMeNot)


Once they find a deal, or a brand they like, they can become a brand's best marketers (or detractors, if the experience is bad)

  • 83% of them use social media (Pew)
  • 90% in the US will share their brand preferences online (Edelman)
  • 90% share deals, 43% through social media (Valassis)


Even though price is very important to them, they are still fiercely loyal to a brand or two:

  • 66% of 18-24 year-olds are more loyal to companies they follow through social media (Social Habit)
  • 90% take action weekly on behalf of a brand (Edelman)
  • 80% will come back to a company or product they like (Edelman)
  • 64% are willing to share information with brands they trust (Edelman)

But that doesn't mean online or mobile is the best way to engage them. Many of them like an old school approach....

  • 87% of them like getting retail information and offers in the mail (Money Mailer)


Being the creators of the nation's largest private discount program means we've been having a lot of conversations about marketing to millennials. Watch this space in the coming months as we'll share some of what we know and have learned.

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Topics: Mobile Coupons, customer loyalty

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter

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