#tapculture with Millennials in the Middle

By Meredith Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer

You’re here because you want the answer to the question: What do Millennials think? 

For this month’s #tapculture, we give you a sampling of responses to a sampling of questions from our recent study of Millennials who live in the American Heartland, or “the middle.” 


But first, who’d we talk to? Or, with whom did we talk, if you rather…

We sought out the voices of Millennials in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri; and Denver, Colorado. 

To really focus on spending power, the study looked at those with annual household incomes of $100,000 and up. We sat down for in-depth personal discussions with 18 people and surveyed an additional 353 on the themes that arose in our interviews. 


And second, why’d we do it?

We sought to answer the question “What do Millennials really think, feel and believe?” through a Heartland lens because, even across a spectrum of industries, our clients all have one thing in common: they have deep roots and business needs in the middle part of the U.S. 

More specifically, we set out to answer “How do Millennials truly feel… about community, connection and purpose?” Here’s a snapshot of what we learned…


What does it mean to be part of a community?


To be involved with a tight-knit group of people that have common interests and support each other. I don’t view it as geography based. female, 25-30

Community is support. Life happens, the good, the bad, and the unthinkable. It’s important to have people around.male, 25-30

Emotional proximity defines community much more than any other factor for these Millennials. Only five people that we surveyed expressed apathy about what it means to be part of a community.


Do you consider your work or colleagues to be a community?


In fact, 72% of respondents told us that they consider their work or colleagues to be an important community for their quality of life, and mental health. Employers, keep that in mind.


What about connection? What does it mean for Millennials in the Middle to be connected?

This is a generation that expects everything to be unexpected. Collective support—leaning on each other when times are tough—is more powerful to them than stoic individualism. They also recognize that, while in the past community was often selected for you, they self-select and build community much more thoughtfully (and through different connection tools than you might think).

This generation is NOT about “me me me” and is instead about “we we we”—and profoundly so.

What kinds of connections are you wanting more of in your life?

That emotional proximity that is so important in community is also important for meaningful connections.


How would you describe your life’s purpose?

They know they can’t change the past but their confident, people-centric purposes are absolutely about creating a better future—for themselves and for the collective.

Many Millennials centered their response to this question on family, their friends and even humanity in general as beneficiaries of their goals. But they were most steadfast in their commitment to those closest to them—whether linked by blood or by the curated community built on meaningful (and, again, highly curated) connections, they are focused and looking for ways to make an impact, now and in the future. 


How is your purpose today different from two years ago?

I look at life differently by focusing on the more important things in life, like family and friendships. – female, 36-40

We started to give a sh*t about health care. – male, 36-40

Now, I don’t worry that much for the things I can’t control! And that helps me to live a life I want to remember. – female, 25-30

Also, 70% of respondents said their purpose was unchanged in the last two years. Pandemic-proof purpose. Now that’s impressive.


How frequently do you consider your purpose? With purpose being the central motivating aim in your life…


Only 10% don’t really think about purpose.


So, what does this all mean for brands and marketers? 

We learned that 83% of Millennials in the Middle feel that no brand is consistently connecting with them. If you’re struggling with the “What do Millennials think?” question yourself, for your brand, start by digging deep to uncover who you really are. And if you’re struggling, follow the example of the Millennials you’re trying to reach – ask for help. We’ll work together to place your brand among the 17% that truly connect with this important, and impressive, group of people.



Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.

Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.