From gen­der flu­id­ity to the phe­nom­e­non that is mil­len­nial pink, we take a look at the as­pi­ra­tions, habits and trends colour­ing this oft- mis­un­der­stood gen­er­a­tion.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - TEXT PRABHU SILVAM

We take a look at the as­pi­ra­tions, habits and trends colour­ing this oft-mis­un­der­stood gen­er­a­tion.


– an um­brella term used to de­scribe any­one born be­tween 1982 to 2004 – is per­haps one of the 21st cen­tury’s great­est and long­stand­ing enig­mas. Gar­ner­ing both praise and crit­i­cism in equal mea­sure, they’ve been la­belled every­thing from “nar­cis­sis­tic” and “en­ti­tled”, to “in­no­va­tors” and “game chang­ers”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, mil­len­ni­als ac­count for 27 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion, which trans­lates roughly to around 2 bil­lion peo­ple – a fast­grow­ing de­mo­graphic that has got big brands to sit up and take no­tice. And rightly so.

Cur­rently be­tween 13 and 35 years of age, those mil­len­ni­als who are on the cusp of adult­hood with prime spend­ing power are driv­ing the world’s con­sumer spend­ing growth. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished by fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany The Mot­ley Fool, mil­len­ni­als will have more spend­ing power than baby boomers by next year. The re­port also sug­gests that the de­mo­graphic will have a col­lec­tive spend­ing power of US$1.4 tril­lion (S$1.8 tril­lion) by the year 2020.

Wealthy mil­len­ni­als, on the other hand, are tak­ing it up a notch. In June this year, a study by RBC Wealth Man­age­ment re­vealed that high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als from this gen­er­a­tion with an av­er­age of US$5.7 mil­lion (S$7.6 mil­lion) in­vestable as­sets each were found to be largely in­volved in ar­eas such as in­vest­ment, sav­ings and wealth man­age­ment.

Un­af­fected by is­sues of gen­eral af­ford­abil­ity, they are able to act on as­pi­ra­tions at the blink of an eye – thus, putting them in the driver’s seat to in­flu­ence the mind­sets and spend­ing habits of their peers. Brands have wasted no time in tap­ping on their spheres of in­flu­ence to get the word out on their prod­ucts and ser­vices. In­stead of spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars on ad cam­paigns and billboards, they are seek­ing to con­vert af­flu­ent mil­len­ni­als into poster chil­dren for their causes, a much more ef­fec­tive way at reach­ing a tar­get de­mo­graphic who thrives on fa­mil­iar­ity and au­then­tic­ity when mak­ing pur­chase de­ci­sions.

They are rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way we work, too. Mil­len­ni­als’ pref­er­ence for part-time work and be­ing self-em­ployed has paved the way for the rise of the “gig econ­omy”. Pro­fes­sor Paulin Straughan, a so­ci­ol­o­gist and dean of stu­dents at Sin­ga­pore Man­age­ment Univer­sity, at­tributes this to a tight job mar­ket which has made full­time em­ploy­ment not as easy to come by. Adding to this is a cul­tural shift where mil­len­ni­als are not will­ing to sac­ri­fice pas­sion for the mun­dane.

Work-life bal­ance, Straughan adds, has never been more in­te­gral. “They have a clearer dis­tinc­tion be­tween work and play based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of those around them. They’ve seen friends and fam­ily hav­ing had to clock long hours and the con­se­quences that has on men­tal and phys­i­cal health, fam­ily and other so­cial re­la­tion­ships,” she says.

Which­ever way you look at it, mil­len­ni­als are do­ing away with the rig­ma­role of the past. They’re the here-and­now gen­er­a­tion – an ever-evolv­ing med­ley of dream­ers, in­no­va­tors and change-mak­ers con­stantly push­ing bound­aries and chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo.

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