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Millennials and Their Money

January 11, 2024

August 9, 2023

Written By:

McCall Moore

Truth, Lies, and How Brands Can Meet Them Where They’re At

While there’s been a plethora of news in the finance world lately, with each new set of information feeling outdated within 24 hours, there’s one stereotype that remains constant: Millennials being known for how broke they are. Studies have shown for years that they’re the first American generation on track to do worse than their parents, but at the same time, we’ve seen plenty of research that as a whole, Millennials are doing great financially. 

So why, despite the numbers showing that Millennials will be okay, does the once-optimistic generation still feel like they’re struggling under the weight of student loan debt, the housing market, and stagnating wages? Why are we seeing such a negative generational psyche?

There’s a lot happening amidst the Millennials right now. It could be that we’re witnessing the division of the Millennial generation, especially as it relates to homeownership.

From mid 2021 to mid 2022, 22% of first-time homebuyers received help for their down payment through a gift or a loan from a friend or family member. Similar, 27% of first-time homebuyers previously lived with their parents, relatives or friends — an all time high. 

Alleviating financial stress through a loan, or lack of rent payments, allows part of this generation to overcome a major financial hurdle that homebuyers may have. 

We’ll cut the stats there, as we’ve all heard plenty about the 1%, upper class, and income inequality lately, especially from the POV of those on the higher end of it all. But what about the Millennials left on the other side of the fence? How do we, as marketers, talk to them in a time where disposable dollars feel few and far between.

We’re here to figure out what’s happening to those Millennials and their psyche, and most importantly, what brands can do to adapt. 

What we’re seeing, by and large, is the generation is responding with desperation and sometimes anger. 

45% of Millennials agreed with the statement, opposed to 35% of adults, “because of my money situation, I will never have the things I want in life” 

"Its not wether you get knocked down"


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If you could be anyone you wanted to be, who would you be? How exciting is it to think that you could start a new chapter in your life in a whole new world? Without the limitations of the physical world and human constructs that have been created around you?

Well that’s where the Metaverse comes in. There are whole new worlds being created out there that will remove the physical limitations of life and allow you to chase your dreams and be who you want to be.

Sounds pretty exciting right? Let’s dig in a little more to understand what this might look like.


Simply put, the Metaverse is the convergence of all the digital things you do online into one virtual experience.

In a sense, it already exists. We sit on Zoom calls, research on the web, talk on social media, buy things on Amazon, watch streaming events and online video, and play games. The Metaverse is already here.

But think of tying all of it together and removing some of the limitations that still exist in your physical life when you access the web.

But how is this all of the sudden now possible?

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As we dig deeper into that stat, though, the numbers show that that’s not the case, and therein lies the conflict. Even though they’re doing much better than previous generations at their age, they’re still buying into old stereotypes about themselves. 

Harvard Business Review published an article How to Market in a Downturn in 2009 in the aftermath of the housing market collapse, and unsurprisingly, so much of it is still relevant today. The authors argue that, in any downturn, consumers are segmented into four psychographics:

  1. Slam-on-the-Brakes: This segment normally feels the hardest hit financially in a downturn. Typically low-income earners and anxious high-income earners.
  2. Pained-but-Patient: Resilient and optimistic about the long term but less confident about the near term. This group is at risk for falling into the slam on the brakes.
  3. Comfortably Well-Off: This group feels confident about their ability to ride out current and future bumps in the economy, whether it’s from their own savings or help from family.
  4. Live-for-Today: This group carries on as usual and remains unconcerned about savings. Extending their timelines for major purchases, this group is typically urban and younger, and likely to remain renting. They spend on experiences rather than things.

Think of your target audience segments within the context of these psychographics — and speak to them accordingly. If your target audience is primarily Millennials, delineating between different locations, household income and interests, it’s imperative to factor in where they’ll fall in the psychographic scale and adapt messaging accordingly.

Further, the biggest takeaway is to stay true to who you are as a brand and speak with authenticity. Sure, you can shift your entire strategy as it relates to content, comms, and messaging, but you’re likely to leave your primary audience vulnerable when doing so — and give your competitors the opportunity to scoop them up. 

More and more, we’re seeing consumers craving an authentic experience with human connection. In the era where just about everything feels like it’s being optimized for efficiency, and technology is increasingly used to cut costs and streamline processes, there isn’t anything automated that can match, or better, the experience of understanding and offering sympathy, support, and most importantly — a solution.  

Consumers don’t want a polished ad from a bank, they want advice from their peers, and to know they’ll be okay. 

All in all, authenticity is key. Use this opportunity as a brand to level-set, refine who you are and what you stand for, and let those values speak for themselves.