Viacom study finds Milennials are 'happy' despite economy and Egyptians only ones who recognise effect from technology after Arab Spring

Viacom has released an in-depth study on the Millennial generation, which has discovered that not only is this generation ‘happy, but that the impact that technology had in young people’s lives was most felt in Egypt during the uprising in the Arab Spring last year.

The report, entitled ‘The Next Normal’ was fielded in June and July of this year across 24 countries, making it the largest study done with Millennials across the globe, with around 15,000 interviews in total.

Speaking to The Drum from the Monaco Media Forum ahead of presenting the results, Colleen Fahey Rush, chief research officer for Viacom said: “Milennials are the biggest generation there has ever been. They are bigger than Generation X and even bigger than Boomers…what we really wanted to do was understand this generation.”

She explained that Milennials were questioned about a number of topics that impacted their lives across a number of categories with the top three most impactful factors found to be, in increasing order; natural disasters, terrorism and the economy.

Speaking about technology, Fahey-Rush confirmed: “People who are not Milennials think that technology is the most impactful thing about the Milennial generation. But if you’re a Milennial, you grew up with that, it doesn’t have anything to do with who you are – it just let’s you be who you are. That is a really important thing for a lot of people in programming and marketing to remember in the way that they talk to people and send certain messages. It can’t be heavy handed with technology being the point.”

She later added that this was not true in once country, Egypt after the affect that social media had on the uprising of its people, leading to the eventual resignation of president Hosni Mubarak.

As to the finding that the economy and unemployment had overtaken world poverty as a crisis they wanted to solve, she explained: “It is a truly global crisis. 68 per cent of Millenials around the world feel personally touched by the economic crisis. It becomes personal when you talk about their job prospects. Half of young people across the world today believe job security will continue to worsen.”

She added that six years ago 47 per cent of kids ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement ‘I will earn more than my parents’, which has now dropped to 26 per cent.

However the research threw up the unexpected finding that, despite all of the issues, Milennials are actually ‘happy’, she continued.

“This is a very happy group of people. They have an amazing capability to maintain a duality between being aware and concerned about the global economic crisis and how it touches them personally, but also they are really happy…the things that make them happy are their family.

“It’s a truly global phenomenon that this generation are connected to their families. It’s the force that makes them happy in spite of them being very unhappy about everything else. The other is their friends, and we have found a very interesting dynamic going on with friends right now where in the real, physical worlds, there’s a trend towards smaller circles of real-life friends, compared to online friends, which is skyrocketing. An 11 year-old might have one social media account, three years later they might have four. We all know that social media is a very big thing, and Milennials are actually very appreciative of how it enhances their relationships, because real-life relationships are becoming a smaller group of people where they are higher valued.”

Viacom will release a global study on social media next year, Fahey-Rush added.