Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

A turbulent 2016 appears to have rattled millennials’ confidence, according to Deloitte’s sixth annual global Millennial Survey.

Millennials — a vital and growing market for brands — indicate they’re less likely to leave the security of their jobs, are more concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, and are not optimistic about the direction their countries are going.

Tumelo Seaketso, talent strategies leader in Deloitte SA’s Human Capital practice, says a more optimistic picture emerges from SA, where millennials (those reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) generally expect to be both financially (71%) and emotionally (62%) better off than their parents.

This is in stark contrast to mature markets, where only 36% of millennials predict they will be financially better off than their parents. Millennials’ anxiety may be partially responsible for more young professionals wanting to remain in their jobs.

Tumelo Seaketso: A more optimistic picture in SA. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Tumelo Seaketso: A more optimistic picture in SA. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Last year, the global "loyalty gap" between those who saw themselves leaving their companies within two years and those expecting to stay beyond five years was 17 percentage points. This year, the balance of millennials looking to "leave soon" is only seven points.

SA millennials are more open to changing jobs. While 65% globally said that they would prefer permanent employment, just 56% of SA millennials expressed such a preference.

SA millennials are also more open to taking on freelance or consulting work, with 43% of them expressing such a preference against 31% globally.

Ronen Aires, who runs youth marketing agency Student Village, agrees that anxiety levels among millennials have risen. "They are driven by their need for security and this is due largely to their fear of uncertainty. If they had the opportunity to chase their dreams with associated risk or go for a safer work option, [they’d be] more likely to opt for safety because of the security and benefits that are associated with it."

Chanelle Carawan, operations director at the Student Brands agency, says: "There have been two effective economic slowdowns since 2008 and the opportunities of the past are not there any more. Millennials are being told to work harder and to stop being lazy. They don’t want university fees to increase and they want the same access to jobs, bursaries and credit which they believe has dried up since they entered the market."

Mokebe Thulo of HDI Youth Marketeers says the new millennial mind-set will have a major impact on how brands relate to this highly choosey demographic.

"Millennials want to fulfil their dreams, and they seek brands that help them self-achieve. They are a generation that demands brands understand them. What we have is an entrepreneurial generation who want to be employers and not employees and some of their key drivers include empowerment, leadership and knowledge," Thulo says.

Aires says SA millennials associate themselves with brands that resemble a projection of themselves or their ideal selves. They also imagine that working for these brands they’ve come to know and trust will provide a safe, exciting and fulfilling career.

According to Thulo, the top five brand connectors for millennials are affordability, availability, investment in community, honest and direct information, and good service. "Their relationship with brands like Uber, Nike, Samsung and Apple is healthy because they feel these brands invest their time in understanding who they really are and what they really want."

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