New Data Reveals Millennials Are Far More Conservative Than You Think

As they start to have children, the misunderstood generation shifts again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Of the 40 million U.S. millennials aged 25 to 34, 22.9 million already have children. With 10,000 millennial women giving birth each day, the generation that’s often viewed through the lens of youth is quickly growing up. A new study of millennials who have children reveals that parenthood is driving a more pragmatic, conservative outlook. Yet, millennials report that ‘conservative’ is not a political term, but instead a shift in attitude that will dramatically change how and where they spend, their commitment to the internet, and the social beliefs that were widely believed to be quintessentially millennial.

“In fact, when it comes to political outlook, millennials define themselves as ‘middle of the road’ more than any other answer.”

“Interest in millennials has reached a fever pitch—and rightfully so, this generation influences the purchases and beliefs of nearly every American,” said Jeff Fromm, president of FutureCast and co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. “Just when we think we have them figured out, the data shows that millennials are now shifting into two very disparate groups. Parenthood is radically changing millennial behavior and beliefs.”

The “Millennials as Parents” study was conducted in July 2014 and surveyed proprietary datasets of the 19.3 million millennial households with adults aged 25 to 34, comparing those with and without child(ren). The study covers a variety of industries including food and restaurants, technology, auto, and retail. Highlights from the survey will be featured at the annual millennial marketing conference Share.Like.Buy in Minneapolis on September 16, 2014. For inquiries about the full data and analysis from the “Millennials as Parents” study, please contact FutureCast.

Millennial Politics and Economic Outlook in Transition:

The data showed large drops in political, social and civic commitment. Before they become parents, 12.5 percent of millennials belonged to a civic organization, a figure that drops to .3 percent after they have children. Likewise, before they become parents, 10 percent of millennials belong to an environmental organization, which drops to .2 percent after they have children.

In fact, when it comes to environmental issues, millennials are waning in their commitment to one of the most basic conservation ideals: recycling. Before they have children, millennials over-index against the general population—meaning they are more likely to believe/act than the total U.S. population—in nearly every category of recycling. After they have kids, that commitment experiences a sharp decline, with commitment to “very often” and “sometimes” shifting to “never” when it comes to recycling everything from glass to newspaper to aluminum cans.

Parenthood shows a sharp increase in millennials that identify themselves as “conservative evangelical Christians” from 9.6 percent to 32.9 percent. However—in a potential conundrum for the upcoming election season—more millennial parents, 30 percent, self-identify with the democratic party than any other.

“Millennials do not think of the word ‘conservative’ in political terms, but instead, a definition of how they feel about their household and young family,” said Fromm. “In fact, when it comes to political outlook, millennials define themselves as ‘middle of the road’ more than any other answer.”

Millennial Spending:

Overall, millennial parents’ income has remained largely flat. Of those households reporting annual income of between $50,000 and $100,000, 7.6 percent reported a drop in income; those households above $100,000 in earnings remained flat. However, they still remain optimistic about the future—millennial parents are more likely than the general population to say they will be ‘somewhat’ or ‘significantly’ more well-off 12 months from now.

Overall, millennial parents are showing an increased propensity toward shopping and spending. Before they had kids, 45 percent of millennials say they ‘rarely go shopping’ which drops to 29.5 percent after parenthood.

Millennial Internet Use and Privacy:

A huge spike in privacy concerns was reported by millennial parents, with 29 percent saying they ‘use the internet less because of privacy concerns,’ up from 9.8 percent before parenthood. The data also revealed that millennial parents are willing to forgo privacy concerns if they are offered a deal or insider info—but not via the internet. Millennial parents who want to hear about new products or services via email stands at 31.9 percent, versus 17.3 percent for millennials without kids. Likewise, before they had kids, just 2.5 percent of millennials were ‘interested in receiving ads on their cell phones,’ which jumps to 12.3 percent after they have children.

About the “Millennials as Parents” Study
The “Millennials as Parents” study was conducted in July 2014 through a partnership between FutureCast and Consumer Orbit. The study looked at U.S. households with inhabitants aged 25-34, with one or more child(ren) in the home, through the lens of the Consumer Orbit’s Total View® database. Evaluating the clearest markers related to attitudinal statements focused on personal, family, friends, work, pleasure, social, faith and the world around us, five naturally occurring orbits emerged. The strongest indicators and defining variables of each orbit related to the segment as a whole were extracted. Additionally, tendency of motivations and preferences for millennials aged 25-34, both with and without children, as compared to adults 18+ were extracted to indicate proclivity to attitude and behaviors.

About FutureCast
FutureCast is a leading national expert on millennial marketing. Services include millennial research, millennial consulting and content excellence. FutureCast’s leaders frequently serve as keynote speakers and media experts on millennial trends. FutureCast is based in Kansas City and is a partner company of Barkley, one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the U.S. @JeffFromm

About Consumer Orbit
Consumer Orbit is a Kansas City-based consumer science company specializing in understanding customers down to the individual household level. As one of the country’s largest aggregators of consumer behavior data with over 63 trillion fields of data covering over 93 percent of U.S. households, traditional demographic descriptors are replaced by combining our Client’s customer knowledge with our vast database of consumer behavior. These data sets together make customer data smarter, resulting in strategic and tactical tools that deliver measurable performance metrics readable in real-time.