Where does millennials come from?
The term millennial was first introduced by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their 1991 book Generations. It was coined to describe the generational cohort of people born between 1980 and 2000. One of the reasons behind the name is the fact that the oldest millennials were graduating high school in the year 2000 (the beginning of the new millennium).
Over time, using millennials to refer to this generation became common as more and more young people came of age. The term wasn’t used extensively online until 2013, after which it became exceedingly popular. The term’s usage has risen as marketers work to target millennials as consumers, and as psychologists and sociologists work to understand them as people.
Though Howe and Strauss had a specific birth-year range in mind, groups such as Gallup, ManpowerGroup, and Nielsen Media Research distinguish the age range of the cohort differently, typically ending it in the mid-1990s.
Who uses millennials?
As seen in popular media, some people older than millennials use the term disparagingly to refer to any young person, actual millennial or not. They have accused them of destroying traditional industries, entitlement, over-sensitivity, an addiction to smartphones, and much more. And, the term millennials often appears in think-pieces about these particular topics.
However, there are positive qualities associated with millennial as well. They have an interest in pursuing meaningful, creative, and self-enterprising employment, democratic workplaces, and social egalitarianism.
Millennials themselves often use the term as a form of self-deprecation or coping too. They tend to make fun of the harsh criticism they receive from older people, including one millionaire's viral claim that millennials would be able to afford homes if they would stop buying avocado toast.
Millennial can also be used as a marketing buzzword when targeting the millennial-aged demographic.
For example, millennials' perceived entitlement isn't a result of overprotection but an adaptation to a world of abundance.
Joel Stein, Time, May 2013
Everyone keeps asking why millennials are killing various industries, when the real question is why baby boomers insist on double-clicking hyperlinks.
@whitefingr, January 2018
I left some avocado toast out on the front porch and in the morning I’d caught three millennials. Paid off their student loans and released them back into the wild. Good kids.
@markhoppus, January 2018