Consumer Insights: New Millennials Keep Calm & Carry On

by Alison Hillhouse, MTV Research

Millennials may be the largest generational cohort in history, but they’re hardly homogenous. In a pivotal study, MTV unearthed two distinct groups within the generation. “The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On” investigates the shifting dynamics between older and younger Millennials and revealed that the new wave of Millennials, aged 13-17, is different from the older wave in key ways, including its unique relationship with technology and optimistic approach to the challenges in this group’s universe.

 Key Findings

Younger Millennials are rapidly adapting to changing “environmental” conditions and navigate life by honing specialized, self-taught survival skills.

  • Over three-quarters of Millennials today ages 14-17 “worry about the negative impact that today’s economy will have on me or my future.”
  • 60% of 14-17 year olds say, “I believe that my generation will be worse off than my parents’ generation,” and 60% feel “very stressed about getting into a good high school or college.”
  • 57% of young MIllennials in 2013 agreed with the statement: “If I want to do something, no one is going to stop me,” down from 71% in 2010.
  • 69% say, “I put more pressure on myself than others put on me.”
  • Over one-third of younger Millennials say they “plot out escape plans when in public places, because of events like Sandy Hook.”
  • Although half are scared of violence at school, they seem to have adopted a practical “Keep Calm and Carry On” mentality.

Younger Millennials are even closer with their Gen X parents, and they’re heeding the advice of their pragmatic parents who don’t say, “the world is your oyster,” but rather, “you’ve got to create your own oyster.”

  • 84% of 14-17 year olds say, “I know why I shouldn’t do something, because my parents explain the consequences to me.”
  • In 2013, 68% of young Millennials agree with the statement: “My parents are like a best friend to me,” up 10% from 2010.
  • 84% agree, “It’s really important to always be prepared and have a plan.”

Young Millennials are consummate brand managers, honing their unique personal brand to stand out and specialize in a world that’s increasingly competitive.

  • They are “DIY Learners” and leverage YouTube videos and niche online communities to delve into the intricacies of their passion. 

– Many have established a unique voice in Tumblr or Instagram as the person who posts photos related to “all things neon” or “romantic Victorian” or “90’s grunge.”

  • 84% say, “I love being an expert in things,” while 78% claim “someone I know would consider me an expert in at least one thing.”
  • 7 in 10 say, “I learn how to do things on YouTube” or “I go to YouTube for DIY videos.”

Young Millennials have a unique relationship with technology. Unlike older Millennials who were pioneers in the “Wild West” of social media, today’s young Millennials are “tech homesteaders” – savvier about how to use technology, interested in building “gated” groups, curating, filtering and choosing to selectively unplug.

Though increasingly physically protected by parents, teens’ web behavior is not as closely monitored. However, they’ve taken it upon themselves to filter out what’s overwhelming to them online.

  • About 7 in 10 say I have the freedom online to go anywhere or do anything I want.
  • 88% try to avoid cruel videos online, 76% try to avoid people being mean to each other and 74% try to avoid videos about violence.
  • Overall, they are slimming down their social networks and finding niche/private places to share in a controlled environment, whether it’s Snapchat or a locked Instagram feed.

They consciously take time to self-soothe, disconnect and de-stress, increasingly “mono-tasking” and focusing on hands-on activities like baking, sewing or crafting.

  • Some claim their dependence on social media is overrated: one teen female says, “My parents Facebook more than I do.” 
  • 8 in 10 young Millennials agree that “Sometimes I just need to unplug and enjoy the simple things.”
  • 82% of young Millennials agree “when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I like to stop and just do one thing at a time.”
  • More than half (57%) of young Millennials like to take a break from technology to make things with their hands.


As the second wave of Millennials approaches adulthood (18-24 years old) in the next few years, it’s important to distinguish between the different groups of Millennials. By understanding their differences, marketers and brands can better connect with this younger and uniquely optimistic and practical segment of the generation.


This study was based on a combination of quantitative results (1,800 Young Millennials ages 14-17; 700 Older Millennials ages 18-25; 300 Gen Xers; 300 Boomers), and qualitative studies (in-home ethnographies/friendship groups, online nationwide qualitative including Instagram Journals, Diaries, etc., older sibling focus groups and expert interviews).


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  1. This is great information for a revised marketing plan the Girl’s CEO Connection is designing now. The mission of Girl’s CEO is engaging and equipping high school girls as a new generation of entrepreneurs and women leaders. High school girls love attending our Realizing a Vision conferences. GIrls ages 14 to 18 have dreams and visions for businesses no one would ever conceive. This post is great for us because it gives us more insight in how to show girls they can be better off-just in different ways and how making things will make a difference to them.

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