Brands may need to rethink their approach to millennials, according to a new study released by the BBC. It found that the majority of millennials (84%) globally are not so dissimilar in their beliefs to older generations.

The report distinguishes between “affluent” and “non-affluent” millennials. For the purposes of this study, affluent millennials were defined as the 25% wealthiest millennials in their home country. The study found that only the affluent millennial subset represent the characteristics widely applied to millennials as a whole.

Titled “Reaching Affluent Millennials” and published by BBC Advertising, the report is based on a study carried out between August and September this year of over 3,000 interviews carried out in 31 countries, including SA.

South African affluent millennials are similar to millennials across the world, says Andrew Tenzer, head of insight, global and EMEA for BBC World News and BBC.com. “They are passionate about the environment (68%) and prefer brands that give back to society (82%),” he says. “Much like their global counterparts many of them (54%) say their favourite brands play an integral part in their lives.”

Globally, affluent millennials have higher expectations of brands. Affluent millennials, says the report, expect brands to show environmental and corporate responsibility, be authentic and translate words into actions.

However, the report also discovered that not all affluent millennials are the same. “We segmented the group to identify the most valuable segment for brands to target. This revealed that within the affluent millennials cohort there are three distinct segments,” says Tenzer. “’The Crowd’ are attitudinally no different to non-affluent millennials, because they have a local outlook and don’t have much of a relationship with brands. ‘The Understated’, on the other hand, have fleeting relationships with brands but aren’t brand loyal, while ‘The Supercharged’ are extremely affluent and the opinion leaders of today and tomorrow. They are very global in their outlook and have a deep emotional relationship with their favourite brands.”

The research identifies “The Supercharged” as the most valuable segment within the affluent millennial group. “Members of this group have a stronger global outlook, are more influential in business, are early adopters and brand ambassadors,” explains Tenzer. “More importantly, they are the opinion leaders of their generation. Identifying this group is potentially a big opportunity for advertisers to reach an extremely loyal group who will live and breathe their brand.”

According to Tenzer, the results of this report change the ballgame for marketers, both for African brands trying to make waves with affluent millennials and global brands looking to reach affluent African millennials. He maintains that marketers need to adjust their media buying strategies to achieve a more targeted campaign, tailored to this influential subset group who believe and behave quite differently to the wider millennial group.

The big take-out: While millennials have long been considered the most influential generation by marketers, a new study released by the BBC found that only the affluent millennial subset, which consists of just 16% of all millennials, represent the characteristics widely applied to millennials as a whole. The majority of millennials, on the other hand, are similar in their beliefs to older generations.