Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of Millennials believe they can inspire the purchase decisions of peers and those in other generations, according to an 11-country survey into the ambitions and beliefs of the Millennial generation, born between 1980 and 1995, building on the firm’s 2010 earlier benchmark study 8095.

The new study was issued to better understand the evolving roles of brands in Millennials’ lives and how cultural changes like the global recession are impacting their behaviors.

The new survey “showed us that it’s time for marketers to rethink their perceptions of Millennials as the generation grows up,” says Alex Abraham, director of the 8095 insights group at Edelman. “In 2013, the oldest in this generation will turn 33, many of them are now parents, have careers and wield an incredible amount of spending power and influence in today’s world.”

When comparing Edelman’s 8095 2.0 findings to the 2010 study, Edelman says there is a clear shift in the ways Millennials perceive their lives and future: while still idealistic and optimistic, there is a new measure of realism. Global findings include:
• The global recession has fundamentally changed Millennials: The economy is a key factor in Millennials’ lives and within their community. In fact, economic stability is the number one hope that Millennials have for their country. The troubling job market also has created a new breed of Millennial entrepreneurs, with 48 percent of Millennials saying that owning their own business is a top life goal (76 percent in Turkey and 65 percent in Brazil).
• Millennials are alpha-influencers: Seven in 10 believe it is their responsibility to share feedback with brands when they have a good or bad experience.
• Millennials are surprisingly open to brand engagement and advertising, if brands have the right approach: Only 3 percent of Millennials thinks all advertising is boring, and 80 percent want brands to entertain them, the ability to co-create products and services (40 percent across 11 countries) being the most popular way.

According to the World Fact Book, the median age of the world population is 28, which falls within the Millennial generation and there are more than 1 billion Millennials around the globe. As the first generation to grow up inherently digital, it is also a group that has information at its fingertips and expects two-way dialog with preferred brands.

“We need to bring a new level of authenticity, transparency and purpose to the work that we do,” says Abraham. “If we can do this correctly, we will discover a vocal group of brand advocates and partners in the Millennial generation.”