October 12, 2010


NEW YORK—Oct. 12, 2010—Young people across the planet think the world needs changing, and they’re confident social media will give them the power to accomplish that change, according to a new global survey from Euro RSCG Social, the newly formalized cross-discipline, cross-leadership social media arm of Euro RSCG Worldwide. For the millennial generation, social media has eclipsed politics, corporations, and consumer power as the greatest agent of change.

These findings and others come from Euro RSCG’s new five-country study, fielded by MicroDialogue in summer 2010, which looks at how the rising generation is making themselves felt in the workplace, consumer markets, and politics. In China, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, 600 respondents each were quizzed, split equally between men and women and divided between two age cohorts: 100 people aged 40 to 55 and 500 millennials aged 18 to 25. The total sample was 3,004.

One thing on which both generations agree is the need for wide-scale progress, with 92 percent of millennials and 84 percent of 40–55s agreeing the world needs to change. What’s more, 84 percent of millennials consider it their duty to bring about that change, while nearly as many (82 percent) believe they have the power to do so.

The survey also examined the two generations’ use of social media (SoMe) as a connector and as a source of entertainment and power, and it asked them to identify the biggest difference between their generations. Not surprisingly both groups pointed to the millennials’ greater use of digital technology as the most significant distinguishing factor, handily beating out such other options as being greener, more informed, or more united.

Responses from the two samples positioned Euro RSCG Social to spot a few trends, including:

  • Act Globally, Act Locally. Social media gives young people an amazing power to act. It lets them have great influence, both near and far. They’re the Open Generation—SoMe has opened up the world to them and they, in turn, have opened their lives up to the world. Knowing what’s happening around the planet has made them realists, versus previous generations of idealists, and they’re taking that knowledge to make their world a better place for themselves and others.
  • Virtuality Ties Tighter than Reality. The real appeal of social media for most users is the way it allows—24/7—more frequent and more intense interactions not just with far-off strangers but with family and friends closer to home. SoMe tools are becoming the most effective way to meet some basic human needs: connection, conversation, and a sense of community. In the global millennial sample, 56 percent said social network sites are a primary way they connect with friends.
  • Mycasting. Millennials are creating news, conversations, and stories intuitively, organically. Young people today don’t have their own Walter Cronkite and don’t watch Brian Williams—or rely on any established experts, for that matter. They’re active participants in the news rather than passive listeners.

“The digital revolution has made today’s youth completely different from any generation that has gone before,” said David Jones, global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Euro RSCG Worldwide, the world’s largest agency network by number of global accounts. “Thanks to technology, they have access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge and information making them incredibly informed. And through social media they have an unparalleled ability to influence and effect positive change.”

To create a platform rooted in social media for young people, Jones co-founded, with Kate Robertson, One Young World, which counts among its counselors Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Muhammad Yunus, and Desmond Tutu, to name a few.

As part of the inaugural summit in London in February 2010, a global study of more than 15,000 people worldwide aged 23 to 28 was commissioned and further confirms that worldwide youth opinion has coalesced into a consensus on the major issues of today, especially around business. A vast 81 percent agreed that multinational corporations are obligated to conduct business ethically and responsibly. In addition, the research showed that young people believe business must stand for something more than profit and that they are prepared to censure unethical companies with their purchase decisions.

Added Jones. “They are the most socially responsible generation that has existed and they have the power to make the world’s leaders follow them.”

Go to eurorscgsocial.com to see the “Millennials and Social Media” white paper and other materials based on the new survey, plus global social media trends, data for marketers, the original “Social Life and Social Media” white paper, a blog that features contributions from ERWW social media experts from around the world, and a multitude of conversations about the latest in SoMe.