Millennial Generation Experiences Stress Differently

Source: APA, 2009 Millennials (18 – 30-year-olds), Gen Xers (31 – 44-year-olds), Boomers (45 – 63-year-olds), and Matures (64 years and

Source: APA, 2009 Millennials (18 – 30-year-olds), Gen Xers (31 – 44-year-olds), Boomers (45 – 63-year-olds), and Matures (64 years and

If any group should know something about stress, it is the American Psychological Association.  For the last two years, they have been researching the sources and impact of stress on different groups of Americans. Recently they released their latest survey data. (Click here to download the report, Stress in America 2009)

A total of 1568 adults were interviewed last July, including 501 Millennials. (BTW, I was gratified to see that they break out their data by generations, and even label the 18-30 generation ‘Millennials’. Perhaps this term will win over the ubiquitous Gen Y after all?)

The findings show generational differences in nearly every area – amount of stress, symptoms of stress and causes of stress. 

Overall, nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) report experiencing high stress levels in the past month (8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point scale); 42% perceive that their stress level is on the rise.  (This figure is actually lower than the 47% who reported rising stress last year so perhaps that is progress?)  Half of all adults (51%) report moderate stress.

The top five causes of stress (in order of importance) for all adults are 1) money 2) work  3) economy 4) family responsibilities and 5) relationships.  So far, no surprises, but here’s where it gets interesting: Millennials are more likely to see money as a stressor, but less likely to attribute their stress to the economy than older groups. It seems they put these two factors into different categories. Millennials are also more likely to be experiencing stress due to relationships.

The generations also experience stress differently. Millennials and Gen X are much more likely to report suffering from stress-related headaches. 43% of Millennials and 41% of Gen X’ers say they experience headaches from stress, while only 31% of Boomers do.

What does this mean for marketers? Marketers cannot assume that Millennials respond to the recession the same way everyone else does.  They are more focused on their immediate situations (money, relationships) than global economic issues. 

The Millennials I know are very concerned about making ends meet, and less concerned with their long-term future.  They are young and after all, tomorrow still  is another day.  Messages that show sympathy for their immediate concerns are more likely to resonate. Help saving money and ideas about new ways of making money or finding a job today are deeply appreciated. Mostly they need jobs and internships or experiences that provide for the basics. Companies and brands that show they understand Gen Y’s ‘pain’ are more likely to be noticed and earn their respect.