18 - 35 Year Old Men: Values

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Millennial Men Insights

The causes most important to millennial men include gender diversity and men's rights. Issues that impact millennial men's lives include unemployment, student debt and modern manhood.

Causes Most Important to Millennial Men

  • Millennial men believe in gender diversity and equality. They are more likely than older men to contribute to childcare, be part of a dual-income household, and adapt their behaviors in support of their female coworkers. In fact, in a survey carried out by BCG, 70% of male respondents under 40 were willing to undergo bias reduction training.
  • On the other hand, men's rights are also important to millennial men; they believe that their rights are being eroded by the fight for gender equality. In a survey done by Women's Agenda, 48% of millennial men agree or strongly agree with the statement that “Men and boys are increasingly excluded from measures to improve gender equality.”

Issues Affecting Millennial Men

  • Many millennial men are unemployed, and men aged between 25 to 34 are falling behind in the workforce more than any other age and gender demographic. While this generation is more highly educated than preceding generations, 30% of men aged 18 to 33 do not have jobs and in the U.S., 500,000 millennial men are missing from the workforce.
  • Millennial men also have substantial student debt. Furthermore, they are more likely than women to default on their student loans; in 2016, 34% of millennial men reported having defaulted or entered forbearance on their student loans, as compared to 26% of millennial women.
  • In the era of #MeToo and traditional masculinity being branded as toxic, millennial men have to deal with the competing definitions of modern manhood. They feel the pressure to "be it all", and are experiencing tension between the expectation for them to manly providers and the expectation for them to be emotionally connected and empathetic. According to a study by Hill Holliday, 90% of millennial men were affected in both their personal and work lives by the #MeToo movement.

Millennial men: Prevalent Conditions and Asking for Help

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New Millennial Men Trends

The new/untapped trends among millennial men include the rise in unemployment and anxiety, becoming more concerned about their health, changes in the view of modern masculinity, and how marketing to millennial dads portray the need to reflect on gender equality.

1. Rise in Unemployment and Anxiety

  • The millennial men demographic has seen the biggest leap in non-participation in the workforce, according to an economist analysis.
  • Around 14% of them were unemployed in 2016. This percentage rose to 20% in 2017.
  • In 2018, nearly 30% of millennial men were still unemployed, of which, 22% did not engage themselves in the workforce at all.

How This Trend Affects Millennial Men and Why

  • According to economists, millennial men having more leisure time, the tendency to stay at home, and the increase in cohabitation are some of the social factors contributing to this trend.
  • 19% of millennial men believe that advancing in a career becomes harder when being a working parent.
  • Though some of the older millennials are buying new homes, 28% of 25-29 year olds and 11% of 30-39 year olds are still living with their parents.
  • 61% of millennial men are worried that they do not make enough money for the family.
  • 45% feels guilty when spending for themselves.
  • This can have an effect on how millennial men are viewed to be "not building wealth" compared to previous generations.
  • Millennial men still have high levels of debt such as car loans, student loans, etc. and unemployment or the lack of well-paying jobs contributes to anxiety.

2. Millennial Men Are Becoming More Concerned About Their Health

  • Millennial men (14%) and women (10%) prioritize managing chronic illnesses and consider preventive healthcare to be the most important thing among their health-related priorities.
  • Millennial men are more likely to save for their health expenses, where 46% (compared to 31% women) currently saves for their future healthcare expenses.

How This Trend Affects Millennial Men and Why

  • Since millennial men are becoming more concerned about their health, 84% describes their health as either good or excellent, compared to 77% women.
  • With this regard, they are likely to rely most on internet resources to get healthcare information.
  • This change makes millennial men more concerned about holistic health focusing on behavioral changes, to improve not just their physical health but also mental and emotional health.

3. Changes in the View of Modern Masculinity

  • The traditional gender role definition noting "men as providers and women as caregivers" has begun to change, according to a research study titled "Millennial Men & Modern Manhood".
  • Modern masculinity among millennial men is now viewed as a "full spectrum of traits" which calibrates their role not just as professionals but also as ideal husbands and fathers.
  • They are becoming more comfortable talking about their emotional state, giving value to emotional maturity rather than physical strength.

How This Trend Affects Millennial Men and Why

  • Millennial men are becoming more open about doing domestic chores (cooking, taking care of their kids, etc.).
  • This change in view of manhood makes 54% feel more masculine while protecting their family than doing their primary jobs.
  • 75% can openly consider themselves to be the "primary caregiver" of the house.

4. Marketing to Millennial Dads is Portraying the Need to Reflect on Gender Equality

  • An untapped trend is the change in how millennial dads are being addressed in marketing strategies, advertisements, and media.
  • 38% of millennial dads believe that their role as parents are inaccurately portrayed in advertisements and marketing canvasses.
  • Only 7% of millennial men relate to how masculinity is depicted in media contents. 85% says they should not be considered as bumbling dads, and 74% believes that marketers and advertisers should depict how they really are in the family.

How This Trend Affects Millennial Men and Why

  • This trend subsequently follows the trend that modern masculinity is now changing the norm — men are meant for professional roles only.
  • When talking about spending, millennial men are seen to have a distinct purchasing behavior, and that they still have the purchasing decision. They spend an average of $173 in a grocery store, compared to moms who spend an average of $149.
  • Since 72% of millennial dads share responsible household shopping nowadays, focusing on a more equal gender-based marketing strategies can give them a better outlook that their role in the family is not neglected.
  • 41% of millennial dads also said that they switched brands (mostly on food, beverage, and grocery brands) after they became a parent, therefore, marketing to them that portrays the role they do in the family would have a great impact.
  • Additionally, it also broadens the emotional canvas on which marketers, brands, and advertisements can create, without making their roles in marketing as bumbling and inept.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To identify the new trends among millennial men, we initially checked studies and research reports relevant to the subject, however, there are no precompiled lists available in the public domain.

Subsequently, we searched for articles and research about how millennial men's view is changing when it comes to modern masculinity, health, what causes them anxiety, and how the community is changing its perception of millennial men's role in the society. We collected and consolidated all the relevant information that was repeated in multiple sources. Further, we also included hard data/statistics that can prove that the selected trends are new/untapped trends among millennial men.
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Gen Z Men Insights

Gen Z men consider having a job, getting married, and having more money in the future to be important concerns. They also see gaming and non-traditional sports participation as important parts of their identity.

Job/Career

  • 93% of Gen Z boys said that having a job or career they enjoy would be extremely important to them when they become adults.
  • In a study by Comscore, 41% of Gen Z men are very optimistic about their future career prospects compared to Gen Z women.
  • 54% of Gen Z males believe that having at least a 4-year college degree is important for professional success and 26% of them consider it to be necessary to have a good job.

Money

  • According to a study by Pew Research, 61% of Gen Z boys consider having a lot of money to be very important to them as an adult compared to 41% of Gen Z girls.
  • In a survey conducted by Clever, on average across all majors, Gen Z men are expecting higher salaries than their female counterparts.
  • 70% of Gen Z men choose to earn more money in the future as their top reason for going to college.

Family

  • 50% of Gen Z boys regard getting married to be important compared to 45% of Gen Z females based on the survey by Pew Research.
  • Gen Z males believe that financial responsibility should be shared between mothers and fathers.

Gaming

  • According to the survey results conducted by Whistle, 68% of Gen Z males consider gaming to be an important part of their personal identity.
  • 77% of Gen Z males are regular video game watchers and 58% consider online gaming an important part of their social life.
  • According to a study conducted by Pew Research, teen boys are spending about 6 hours a day on average as leisure time and it includes screen time, playing sports, and socializing.

Sports

  • 56% of Gen Z men feel that "non-traditional sports are more relevant than traditional sports" because they link back to the qualities that Gen Z value such as creativity and innovation.
  • 46% of Gen Z men feel the need to keep up with sports overall to be part of the cultural conversation as fan bases-communities in non-traditional sports rapidly grow.
  • For Gen Z men, competing well (78%) is far more important than winning trophies (41%).

Masculinity

  • According to the report by Whistle, Gen Z men are challenging the status quo by distancing themselves from past generations' toxic masculinity by embracing their emotional and caring sides.
  • 93% of teen boys believe that being smart is an important part of being masculine today.
  • 9 in 10 Gen Z boys believe that being caring and family-oriented are essential parts of masculinity.
  • 6 in 10 Gen Z boys said that another important part of masculinity is being sensitive.

The Rising Cost of Playing Team Sports — Gen Z

  • Youth sports participation in the US is now based on the income where middle and lower-income students quit athletics while wealthy students' participation rise.
  • The growing "pay-to-play" sports has turned team sports expensive for many households with income less than $75,000.
  • Households earning $50,000 and below cited cost as the top reason for their kids to not participate in team sports.
  • 42% of families of middle and high-school students cite cost as the main reason they do not participate in sports even if they are interested.
  • 63% of public school's budget on sports is stagnant or decreasing based on a report by Rand.
  • 58% of community-based sports fee is increasing as reported by Rand.
  • Around 62% of Gen Z males participated in team sports in 2017.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To address the question, we looked for surveys and statistics from research institutions such as Pew Research, sports-oriented organizations such as Sports Matter and Whistle Sports, and news websites such as CBS News. We then selected insights that were considered important by Gen Z males and consolidated our findings. For the overview on team sports cost, we were not able to find insights specific to Gen Z males. Therefore, we expanded our scope to Gen Z as a whole. We were able to find demographics of youth team sports participation and found out that Gen Z boys make up the largest share of the participation (62%). With this, we considered the overall statistics to be relevant to Gen Z males cohort due to the larger share.
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New Gen Z Men Trends

New trends among Gen Z men include strongly identifying with gamer culture (even more so and in a much different way than their millennial predecessors), significantly decreasing quality of mental health, increasing focus on and prioritization of mental health and happiness, and relatability and acceptance with regard to new (more emotionally driven) depictions and concepts of masculinity. A deep dive of these trends has been provided below.

1: Gen Z Men Strongly Identify With 'Gamer' Culture

Overview of this Trend:

  • 68% of Gen Z males say that gaming is "an important part of their identity" and 71% call themselves a 'gamer'.
  • Among Gen Z men, the concept of what a 'gamer' is has moved away from the negative stereotype of "a lazy guy in his parents' basement" to something more positive, and 84% of Gen Z men say they view playing video games as a cool thing to do.

Effect Gen Z Men:

  • The trend of gamer identity among Gen Z men has developed primarily as the result of social gaming and developing deeper connections with others in the gaming community. These communities have grown on social media platforms, such as Twitch, but also extend beyond these platforms into their real-world interactions with their friends.
  • The fact that Gen Z men are tying gaming to their 'identity' is much different from the way millennial men viewed gaming at the same age. This is the result of the fact that Gen Z men grew up in a time when gaming had already advanced well beyond its roots to a point where socialized gaming (e.g. Call of Duty) and its necessary components (e.g. high-speed internet) were common, making it possible to play games whenever, wherever, and also remotely with other players around the world. Because of this, Gen Z men have essentially 'grown up with a controller in their hand' and immersed in communities of gamers.

2: Gen Z Men Have Very Poor Mental Health

Overview of this Trend:

  • According to the American Psychological Association, male Gen Z are twice as unlikely to report positive mental health compared to females.
  • Only 18% of Gen Z males report positive mental health.
  • Overall, Gen Z is the least likely generation to report positive mental health.

How it is Affecting Gen Z Men:

  • In 2017, suicide rates among youth in the U.S. reached a new peak and is now the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 in the United States.
  • Between 2000 and 2017, suicide rates among boys and young men doubled.
  • In 2017, almost 18 in every 100,00 men between the ages of 15 and 19 committed suicide.
  • Pressure caused by social media has been identified as a key driver of this trend according to a study published by JAMA.
  • Loneliness due to being connected digitally but disconnected physically may also be playing a key role given that Gen Z has the highest score of all generations on the UCLA Loneliness Scale (the standard measurement of loneliness for decades).
  • 70% of Gen Z thinks that technology causes stress in their lives and that it stops face-to-face interaction.

3: Gen Z Men Think Mental Health is More Important than Physical Health

Overview of this Trend:

  • Among Gen Z overall, about 71% believe mental health is more important than physical health.
  • 65% of Gen Z males specifically feel that mental health is more important than physical health (compared to 74% of Gen Z females).

How it is Affecting Gen Z Men:

  • Gen Z men are now driven to desire happiness more so than health or wealth. Overall, Gen Z is the only generation for which this is true.
  • Only 49% of Gen Z males say health is more important than happiness, and only 13% of Gen Z overall ranks wealth as the most important when compared against happiness and health.
  • While Gen Z reports being burdened with a great deal of stress (due in large part to their digital environment), however, 60% say they feel optimistic about the future.

4: Gen Z Men Find New/Evolving Concepts of Masculinity Relatable

Overview of this Trend:

  • According to media and entertainment expert, Jack Myers, in general, female protagonists in the media have become more physically courageous and capable, while male leads have evolved to become more comedic and emotionally supportive.
  • Gen Z men are finding that these roles are more relatable than traditional male media roles.

How it is Affecting Gen Z Men:

  • These evolving concepts of masculinity have caused Gen Z to struggle to define masculinity on their own terms, aside from the definitions given by previous generations (which they are very aware of).
  • In a survey, Gen Z men (ages 15-25) noted that they have often seen masculinity idealized as 'aggressive', yet they also admit to "rejecting stereotypical notions of masculinity, aiming instead for a more inclusive take on being a 'real' man."
  • While Gen Z still admires individuals who are assertive and attractive, overall, they are less likely to have negative opinions when it comes to displaying emotion.
  • Jack Myers notes that, while there is still a place for traditional masculinity among Gen Z, "it's just one of several options" that can be defined as masculine. Other options now include kindness, empathy, and intelligence.

Research Strategy

To identify these trends, we analyzed insights published by experts along with survey data pertaining to Gen Z males. 'New' trends were defined as those that have been being discussed and reported on in recent years and those that are currently still evolving. Overall, it was noted that, while there are a vast number of insights about Gen Z, it was unexpectedly challenging to pin-point those that are specific to males only. For example, while we had initially hoped to find a recent survey that focused exclusively on Gen Z males, it was interesting to note that we were unable to find such a survey readily available. Instead, the majority of information publicly available focuses on Gen Z overall, with sparse breakdowns of male vs. female perspectives scattered throughout. While we did manage to weave these collective insights together to zero our focus on males specifically, ultimately, we resorted to also including a few data points about Gen Z overall, so long as they supported the developing narrative specific to males.
Sources
Sources