Around the globe, Millennials are commanding attention. Why? They make up one-fourth of the planet’s population and, because of their young ages, their impact as consumers is starting to take shape. In the U.S., Millennials are 77 million strong and make up 24 percent of the population, in line with the country’s Baby Boomer generation. In emerging countries, Millennials make up an even larger portion of the population: 28 percent in China and 30 percent in both Brazil and India. Despite their size, however, many haven’t yet amassed much wealth. This generation came of age in the direst economic circumstances since the Great Depression, contending with high unemployment, high student loans and an uncertain future. Still, some have done exceedingly well.
“Upscale” Millennials—those between 18-34 with Internet access and household incomes over the 75th percentile in their countries—represent the future of economic growth and prosperity. What does that percentile look like? In India, that means households earning $30,000 or more. In the U.S., the threshold is above $70,000. In an effort to better understand this group and its consumer prowess, Nielsen conducted a study across the U.S., China, India and Brazil to learn about their financial plans and aspirations.
Money matters to this group of consumers. In the countries studied, more upscale Millennials are actively saving for goals reflective of their young life stage—like higher education and home purchase—than the global population. And with their higher incomes, upscale Millennials globally are devoting a larger portion of their monthly income to savings than the general Millennial population. As a result, this young segment of the population feels confident in their financial futures.
But despite their similar life stages and financial situations, goals, savings and confidence among upscale Millennials around the world vary depending on culture and each country’s fiscal policies. Financial institutions should look to consumer sentiment and savings activities country by country to develop strategies to educate and connect with upscale Millennials.
Upscale Millennials have an eye on the future, saving for major milestones associated with their young ages. They’re focusing on education to build their careers, starting families and purchasing their first homes. While the percentage of upscale Millennials saving for these goals varies across the four countries studied, all three are top priorities in the four countries. For example, about half of the upscale Millennials in India, China and Brazil are actively saving for their first homes at 52 percent, 47 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Comparatively, 37 percent of the upscale Millennials in the U.S. are actively putting money aside for the same goal.
However, cultural and value components are guiding what Millennials in different parts of the world are saving toward. Cultures that value clans and families, like those in China and India, have a much more intergenerational outlook toward their savings and investment intentions than elsewhere. In India and China, more than half of upscale Millennials are saving for their children’s futures (65% and 57%, respectively), while the percentages are much lower in the U.S. and Brazil (30% and 22%, respectively).
Government policies can also influence upscale Millennial saving patterns. In the U.S., China and India, health is a top savings goal for upscale Millennials, but those in Brazil are more focused on saving for first-time home purchases, unexpected household emergencies and higher education. Since the Brazilian government provides public health care, Brazilian Millennials may need to devote less of their savings toward health issues. Full implementation of health care reform programs, including the Affordable Health Care Act in the U.S. and Healthy China 2020 in China, may affect the amount of savings consumers in these countries devote to health in the future.
Upscale Millennials are devoting a larger proportion of their monthly income to savings than the general Millennial population. Upscale Millennials in the U.S. are saving to meet their financial goals each month at the highest rate, with 17 percent indicating that they’re saving more than 50 percent of their monthly paychecks. However, most U.S. Millennials have remained steady in the amount they’ve saved over the last 12 months. Millennials in Brazil are saving the least each month, with over 60 percent of both upscale Millennials and the general Millennial population saving less than 20 percent of their monthly paychecks. Yet, savings among Brazilian Millennials—both upscale and in total—have increased over the last 12 months.
While most Chinese Millennials are saving modestly, between 20-50 percent of their monthly paychecks, their savings have increased over the last 12 months. More than three-fourths (77%) of upscale Chinese Millennials have increased their savings over the last 12 months, while 64 percent of total Chinese Millennials have increased their savings. The largest percentage of upscale Indian Millennials save between 20-50 percent of their monthly paychecks, and savings are on the rise, as 68 percent indicated that they increased their savings over the last 12 months.
Globally, seven out of 10 (69%) consumers believe they will meet their financial goals, with 28 percent saying they trust their current plan and 41 percent saying they need to monitor and adjust their plans over time. Upscale Millennials exhibit even greater confidence in meeting their financial goals than the general global population. Upscale Millennials in India are the most confident, with 94 percent believing they will meet their financial goals, followed closely by those in China (91%) and the U.S. (83%). In line with their tendency to save less than those in the other three countries, upscale Millennials in Brazil are the least confident—only 76 percent believe they will meet their financial goals. Regardless of geography, however, all upscale Millennials, but particularly those in Brazil, say they need to monitor their current plans and adjust along the way, presenting a significant opportunity for financial institutions to help guide them as they do.
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen's Upscale Tech-Savvy Millenials report.
Nielsen has defined upscale, tech-savvy Millennials as respondents between the ages of 18-34 with Internet access and household income over the 75th percentile for survey respondents. The general Millennial population is defined as respondents between the ages of 18-34 with Internet access.