What’s ‘The Next Normal’ for Asian Millennials?

by Todd Phillips, Viacom International Media Networks

Viacom International Media Networks’ vice president of research and insights Christian Kurz travelled to Singapore and Japan to unveil some of the specific market findings of “The Next Normal: An Unprecedented Look at Millennials Worldwide.”

Speaking at the ContentAsia Summit at Singapore’s Fort Canning Hotel, Kurz dug deeper into the groundbreaking new study, offering programmers, content producers, distributors and other media professional insights in to how young people from China, Japan, India and Singapore stacked up against their global contemporaries from the other 20 countries included in the study.

In many respects, the Asian Millennial experience is in line with that of the millennial experience worldwide. For example, globally, Millennials describe themselves as tolerant, authentic, curious about the world, positive and flexible – terms Asian Millennials also used to describe themselves.  But they also add stressed and tech savvy to the list. Below we break out some of the key distinctions.

World events shaping their lives: Similar to the global findings, the global economic crash is also the #1 event impacting Singaporean and Chinese Millennials, while not surprisingly, Japanese respondents named the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear scare at the top event impacting them.

Most important problems to solve: All four Asian countries named unemployment as the biggest problem to solve. Indian respondents named world hunger was the second most important, while Chinese Millennials identified protecting wildlife and nature as number two.

Happy despite concerns: One of the key findings of The Next Normal was that despite the millennial generations citing the economy, terrorism and natural disasters as events that shaped their lives, globally three quarters of them consider themselves to be happy.  Among Asian respondents, India was the fifth most happy amongst their global peers, while China sat closer to the average of 76% who ranked their happiness greater than 7 on a scale of 1-10.  Singapore and Japan sat lowest on the list of countries, with only 68% and 55%, respectively, grading themselves on the higher range of the scale.

For today’s Millennials, happiness is found by spending time with friends and family, going on holiday, having fun and relaxing and being successful.  In fact, 73% of global respondents said that being happy was the first key factor in defining success followed by being part of a loving family and having a job you enjoy – both in Asia and across the globe. Asian Millennials feel being rich is the third most important factor to define success.

Asian Millennials are particularly stressed: The demands of school and a successful career can lead to considerable stress for Asian youth, and this is demonstrated in the fact that China, Japan and Singapore were among the top six ‘most stressed’ countries.  For Singaporeans, the top three things that made them stressed was losing their mobile phone, the pressure to do well in school/college or work, and not living up to their full potential.  The Chinese top the list as the most stressed, with China and Singapore amongst the only five countries where the ratio between happiness and stress is less than 2 to 1.

Fifty-six per cent of Singaporeans and 49% of Chinese young people think life would be better if I lived in another country, whereas only 23% of Japanese feel the same way. That said, Asian youth are consistent with the global average of 83% of Millennials who agree that they are proud to be where they’re from, and 76% believing that maintaining local traditions is becoming more important.

And they’re tech-savvy: Japanese have a slight lead over their global counterparts, with 7 in 10 claiming that they wouldn’t want to live without a desktop PC or laptop. Four in 10 Singaporeans think they’re more tech savvy than anyone else.

When it comes to their digital lives, Asian Millennials are definitely ahead of the global averages. Amongst Singaporeans, 95.7% have an email account, 83.8% use instant messaging and 91.4% have a social media account.  And 81.3% say the smart phone is their favourite device.

No wonder losing it causes so much stress.

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