Busting the myths around the Millennial generation: Insights from The NZ Shapers Survey

Busting the myths around the Millennial generation: Insights from The NZ Shapers Survey

There are plenty of negative generalisations about Millennials. They’ve been labelled as lazy, entitled, narcissistic and unreliable. In 2018, Purpose Business conducted a survey with more than 500 New Zealand Millennials on the Pureprofile panel and set out to understand how Millennials differ from other generations, challenging our preconceptions about them by sorting fake news from fact.

Key facts on the Millennial generation:

  • Defined as those born between 1984 and 2000
  • 1.8 billion worldwide and more than 1 million living in NZ today
  • Represent 37% of the NZ workforce, with 82% employed full or part time
  • Worth $31 trillion globally by 2020
  • Highly educated – 1 in 3 have a Bachelor’s degree or higher


In the research, Purpose Business uncovered a generation of highly educated New Zealand change agents who are hard working, savvy and values driven.  Their high standards for performance and ethics are challenging brands and organisations to create a positive impact on the environment around them. So why are we so quick to dismiss Millennials, and what is most important to this generation compared to the others?

Myth 1:
Millennials are lazy and not prepared to work hard for the things that matter 

Millennials represent 37% of the NZ workforce and they are as hard working as any generation before them. Their motivations are no different to others – they are motivated by security and control. Close to three in five feel a strong sense of loyalty to the company they work for and they value companies with a clear purpose – 59% agree they would rather work for a company with strong values and purpose even if they were paid a bit less.  

Myth 2:
Millennials are the ‘Me, me, me generation’

Millennials are the change generation and will make the world a better and fairer place through their choices and actions, not just their words. They care about climate change – one in seven are prepared to make major changes to their lifestyle and behaviour if it helps reduce the effects of climate change. They are optimistic in their desire to drive change through being sustainable and making ethical choices in everything they do.

Myth 3:
Millennials are shallow and materialistic

The brands that Millennials choose to support must share similar values to them in terms of what’s important and what they care about. They are socially aware, with 60% agreeing that ‘people my age think brands that genuinely care about people and the environment are cool.’ They are the generation more likely to recommend or pay more for goods and services that are ethical and sustainable. 

Myth 4:
Millennials live in a digital world where they don’t know the difference between what is real and what is fake

Millennials choose their information wisely and expect their reality to be authentically reflected in the advertising and media that surrounds them. They can spot ‘fake news’ and are far less trusting of news they see on social media than other millennials around the world. Just 16% of NZ Millennials trust news published on these platforms, compared to 23% of global Millennials.

Myth 5:
Millennials are entitled – they’re not prepared to do the hard yards, and expect everything to be handed to them on a plate

A generation of entrepreneurs, one third of millennials have a ‘side hustle’ with many of them starting more businesses younger than any other generation before. They are just as ambitious as other generations and most believe that it should be part of an employer’s mandate to ensure work-life balance (57%). They’re the generation with the most concern about the increased cost of living but will never compromise their values to get ahead in life. 

Infographic NZ Shapers Study


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