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White paper - Titan Industries Millennial Paradox


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Discussing the paradox behind India's millennials that is palpable across their professional lives and leisure.

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White paper - Titan Industries Millennial Paradox

  1. 1. The Millennial Paradox and the Age of Collective IndividualismThe first in a series of Titan Industries’ Millennial Paradox Quarterlies16 May, 2013: They’ve been called the ‘Dictators’1, 97% believe that they – individually – have thepower to change the World, 95% describe themselves as being more empowered than previousgenerations, 72% believe that they are more creative and can deliver more innovative/creative solutionsto the World’s problems that their predecessors. For India’s millennial generation (people born betweenroughly 1980 and 2001) it’s all about ‘me’. In fact, for this demographic group ‘me’ is not merelyimportant, it’s the only opinion that counts.The ‘Millennial Me’; the only game in townAccording to the same MTV/TataDoCoMo survey data, a third of millennials cited ‘personal satisfaction’as the single most important factor behind their decision-making, ahead of both parents (at 26%) andwider family (24%) – an unthinkable order of priorities for previous generations of Indians! Far fromsafety in numbers, looking for identity, prestige and endorsement from a wider group, 40% of today’smillennials simply ‘don’t care’ what the rest of society thinks about their opinions or behaviour, 56% willactually fight against society and norms if they believe that they are in the right, less than 10% look up topublic figures as an example.Another recent survey2 highlighted the increasingly independent nature of your Indians’ thoughts andaspirations; ‘Do something new independently’ was the number one priority according to the findings.Based on this evidence, India’s millennials would appear to be the most opinionated, uninhibited,independent-minded generation in the nation’s history; and this insight is endorsed by anecdotalevidence of millennial behaviours: the use of Twitter to connect directly with anyone irrespective oftheir rank or title, the disregard for traditional structures of authority and management in the workplace(if they have an opinion, India’s millennials will simply express it); and their opinion is as valid as the nextperson, whether that happens to be the boss or the Prime Minister!The death of the herd?Research carried out by Visa International3 reveals that ‘Indian millennials want to be free to bethemselves and explore who they are,’ . . . . ‘Four in five Indian millennials are ambitious and bigdreamers . . .’. Youth marketing guru Samyak Chakraborty4 suggests that 80% of campus students wantto build their own independent image and make purchases based on their own individual judgementrather than follow trendsetters. ‘Each wants to have his/her own unique style and be known by the1 Source:TataDoCoMo/MTVPlay.com2 Source: Source: Connecting with the Millennials – A VISA study ( Source: Youth Marketing in India with Samyak Chakrabarty
  2. 2. choices they make . . . .this could mean the end of using ‘herd mentality’ as a basis for formulating abrand’s communication strategy.’Millennials’ quest for individuality has taken the concept of personalisation to new levels in India. Thestratospheric rise in vodka consumption – 25% year-on-year according to some estimates5 – is evenbeing attributed to the drink’s ‘individualistic’ qualities6. According to the theory, Vodka is the perfectindividualistic millennial drink; it leaves no trace on the breath, it can be transformed into an unlimitedarray of mixes and cocktails, or it can be drunk ‘solo’. In this sense, Vodka defies tradition andconvention; it enables the drinker to choose his/her identity and adapts seamlessly.In socio-economic terms, increasingly individualistic behaviour can also be reflected by and attributed tothe trend towards urbanisation sweeping India. The move to the city, away from the support andconfines of family, adds to the sense of independence; as do growing levels of financial independenceand financial inclusion (bank account penetration, bank card usage etc.) across this demographic7.The ‘Millennial Paradox’But, despite these unprecedented levels of self-obsession and independence, India’s millennials do notoperate in isolation. On the contrary, this demographic exhibits an unprecedented desire to share andbelong to some form of community, both in the professional and personal context. These communitiesare present both online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.) and offline and are sustained by this group’sappetite – even, compunction – to share; anything from holiday photos, to their innermost secrets withpeople who they may have never met. Sharing has become the principle form of validation and meaningfor 21-35 year olds. And the evidence is compelling . . . . .Millennials are the World’s ‘exhibitionist class’, everything is shared, everything requires anendorsement – whether that take the form of a ‘friend’ a ‘like’ or even a ‘retweet’. MTV researchersdescribe them as being ‘addicted to constant feedback’8; according to their research 58% of millennialssurveyed felt more confident when they received feedback and 33% of those surveyed felt disappointedif others don’t respond.And India’s millennials are no exception. 95% of them participate in social network activities at leastonce per day9, over half of them consider a mobile phone to be an ‘absolute necessary’ outstrippingtheir debit/credit card (8%), bike (4%), car (2%) and newspaper (2%). India is home to over 61 millionFacebook users, with 18-24 year-olds and 25-34 year-olds accounting for the biggest proportion.According to Edelman’s 8095 research10, 74% of millennials believe that they influence their peers’purchasing decisions; ‘Millennials seek recommendations from people they trust – They spend a lot oftime on social media and are vocal about their likes and dislikes . . .’11.5 Source: Source: Source: Source: Source: TataDoCoMo/MTVPlay.com10 Source: Source:
  3. 3. In fact, 90% of Indian millennials actually believe that it’s their responsibility to share feedback withcompanies after good or bad brand experience.And it’s not just about purchasing decisions; sharing has become the default response when addressingdeeper issues. According to MTV/TataDoCoMo12 survey data, when it comes to social issues, 56% ofmillennials alert their friends and family, 39% join the relevant social community, and 27% write aboutthe cause and issue on their personal communities.‘Costless Friends’The ease with which India’s millennials can share is redefining the concept of cause and effect; brands,parents, teachers, authorities no longer enjoy a defining influence over them. While 89% of India’smillennials research online before making a purchasing decision13, 64% of them also use social media tomake new friends. And this is the key; traditional sources of validation and endorsement such as familyand people from the vicinity are being complemented – and in some cases replaced – by new forms oftrusted friendships.While the latter were characterised by a sense of exchange and obligation (a sense of ‘debt’ in terms ofloyalty and respect to family members, for instance), the latter come completely free of any suchresponsibility. These new forms of friendships are secured by mutual interests, passions, opinions, needsetc. but are completely ‘costless’ compared to their traditional predecessors. ‘Costless friends’ comedevoid of any sense of obligation or duty; contrary to traditional relationships in India, where the senseof obligation can be overwhelming.Despite this, costless friends should not be considered trivial or superficial; these types of communitiesand relationships can be profound, with members exchanging deep and intimate levels of informationand insights. In fact, the levels of trust, confidence and loyalty that India’s millennials are associatingwith these new forms of friendships are growing. In many instances, such relationships have surpassedtraditional sources of validation and are increasingly defining millennials’ opinions, beliefs andbehaviours.‘Collective Individualism’‘Collective individualism’ is one way of describing this fascinating counterpoint; the obsession withindividual personal choice, offset by the need to share and exchange as a form of validation and – inessence – meaning. Like many generations before them, India’s millennials are full of inconsistenciesand apparent contradictions. In reality we are seeing traditional alliances and sources of validation andmeaning are being replaced by new allegiances – such as the ‘costless friend’ – which are not limited toeither geographical or familial ties. Collective individualism is a dynamic process; whether it ultimatelyleads to conflict, as India’s millennials exchange traditional sources of loyalty meaning for new ones,remains to be seen.12 Source: Source: TataDoCoMo/MTVPlay.com13 Source: IDEM
  4. 4. On a wider level, what India’s Millennial Paradox means in terms of consumer behaviour, professionaloutlook, family & relationships and leisure will be examined in further detail in future Titan Industries’Millennial Paradox Quarterlies.# # #About Titan Industries’ Paradox PanelTitan Industries’ ‘Paradox Panel’ is a discussion forum designed to research, debate and develop insightsinto India’s 21-35 year-old communities – the so-called ‘millennial’ generation. This demographic groupis characterised by both a tendency – near obsession – towards self-expression, individual choice andpersonal opinion. The ‘Paradox’ being that – despite this – this group exhibits an unprecedented desireto share and belong to some form of community, both in the professional and personal context. Despitetheir rejection of conventional groups and communities in favour of individual opinions and self-expression, sharing has become the principle form of validation and meaning for today’s 21-35 yearolds. This is the Millennial Paradox.To mark the 25th anniversary of the brand during the course of the year, Titan Industries’ Paradox Panelwill be exploring the implications of the Millennial Paradox on India’s youth in terms of their consumerbehaviour, family and relationships, professional lives and careers, and leisure. Throughout the year,these insights will be published in Millennial Paradox Quarterlies – white papers designed to stimulatediscussion, debate and further insight.Titan Industries’ Paradox Panel consists of:- Aditya Swamy – Executive Vice President, MTV IndiaWith an MBA in Marketing from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Aditya started his careerwith Coca-Cola and moved on to the entertainment industry in 2006. He has helped MTV to convert intoa multiplatform entertainment destination. Today, MTV reaches out to over 130 million people on TV,has the largest social media connect with over 8 million fans on Facebook & Twitter; and has over 2million views a month for its mobile TV service.- Dr. Bino Paul – Professor and Chairperson, Tata Institute of Social SciencesDr Bino Paul GD is Professor at the Centre for Human Resources Management and Labour Relations atthe Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He has a doctoral degree in Economics from IIT Bombay andaffiliated with the Centre for Human Resources Management and Labour Relations, Innovation andResearch Facilities: Labour Market Research Facility and the School of Management and Labour Studies.- Kaustav Sengupta – Associate Professor at National Institute of Fashion TechnologyKaustav is a well-known youth trend analyst, alternative media expert and a fashion theorist. He heads aresearch & direction team of young Indians which is organically growing and now has a network of morethan 1,500 young trend-spotters across India. This initiative called INgene, is the first ever youth trendresearch initiative in India recognized by many international experts as the best source for youth trendinsights in India. He regularly conducts workshops, delivers lectures and presents papers on Indian youthtrend, fashion forecasts, consumer analysis. He is also representing PYMCA (, thelargest online archive of youth culture) in south east Asia; along with other honorary associations (Local
  5. 5. advisor of TED, NeN NIT Trichy, IIT M etc.) This collaboration will provide new opportunities to GEN nextand help showcase their photographs, artworks, music etc.Twitter @kaustavsenguptaWebsite Sam Ahmed – Vice Chairman and Creative Director, Rediffusion IndiaSam Ahmed is one of the biggest creative names in the world of advertising and is currently ViceChairman and Chief Creative Officer of Rediffusion. He is one of the world’s most awarded creativepeople. Sam has spent 14 years at Y & R, Dubai where he was credited with making Y&R the No. 1agency in Dubai in creative rankings. Over the years, Sam has won more than 200 international awardsincluding the Cannes Lions, One Show, Clio, New York Festival, Epica among others.# # #