Over the past year I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time researching North American millennials on a wide range of everyday topics. Through hundreds of in-depth interviews, and thousands of online surveys, the theme of transience has often emerged.
The nomad, defined as "an individual with no fixed location who wanders in search of pasture," can represent a cultural ideal for this generation. In the face of social and financial pressure, many are attempting to remain free from the feeling of restriction.
Transience of Home
Millennials often describe feeling at home everywhere and nowhere. Where previous generations define home as a place, millennials often see home in more abstract terms.
I travel so much I feel like a nomad..... im a nomad. I learned that in highschool. You have gonads lolz omg,
— Veronica Hernandez (@veerawnica) April 5, 2014
Many of the attributes of home (i.e. safety, attachment, relationships) can exist everywhere in the digital environment. With the ability to carry many of these attributes in your pocket, the idea of home has become more transitory and mobile for millennials.
Transience of Objects
Millennials often describe wanting to live light. Where previous generations placed great importance on objects, millennials are often concerned about becoming trapped by stuff.
I'm just going to live in my car because all I'll need to carry to be happy is my yoga mat, my shoes, and a phone charger.
— Sarah (@Bellum_Pax) March 29, 2014
The objects that are most valued, are the ones that facilitate growth and freedom. Things that provide maximum impact, with minimal inconvenience, are the things that are carried and consumed by these modern gypsies.
So what does this mean for brands?
Paradoxically, despite the desire to remain free, millennials will often feel strongly attached to the things that facilitate detachment. So when a product or brand helps facilitate detachment, it can be highly valued by millennials (think: bikes, smartphones, prepaid visa).