10 (Unexpected) Differences Between Millennials in the U.S. Northeast vs. West

unnamed-3 Millennials are a coveted demographic group for many consumer marketers and media companies. New insights to help increase the percentage of their eyeballs and purchasing activity is the subject of many research projects, which seek new, innovative ways to look at this segment of 18-34 year olds.

One way to look at Millennials is by region, to find out how geography may correlate to their psychographic profiles on a wide range of topics. Specifically, how do those residing in the Northeastern U.S. differ in general from those living in the Western U.S.? (States included are detailed at the bottom of this article.) Marketing and media tactics may need to vary based on what can be found.

Using the consumer insights data we collect through ongoing, anonymous web polling, which is opt-in only, CivicScience did some mining of 248,231 Millennial respondents to see what we could unearth that would be valuable for consumer researchers. From this study, we developed an infographic – but here, we highlight a “top 10” list of some of the statistically significant regional differences that emerged:

#10: Guess who’s more social… digitally?

Northeastern Millennials are much more likely to love using the social sharing app Snapchat – in fact, 55% more likely to love it over their Western U.S. counterparts. They are also 32% more likely than Westerners to be on Twitter, a difference that surprised us considering the halo effect that the Silicon Valley tends to have.

#9: Westerners got game.

Millennials in the Western U.S. are 50% more likely than Northeasterners to play video games on a daily basis. With ever-increasing growth in smartphone and tablet computer ownership, gaming is more portable than ever – so why not play Plants vs. Zombies while working on your tan in San Diego or riding the ski lifts in Colorado?

#8: Northeasterners are more on the go.

The data suggest that Millennials in the Northeast have slightly more hectic lives; they are 42% more likely to eat breakfast on the road or at work (vs. at home), and 15% more likely to eat lunch away from home. They are 38% more likely to have a commute to work that is at least 20 minutes long. But they do stay put longer when it comes to their address: they are 21% more likely than the Westerners to have lived in their current residence for at least five years.

#7: Nip, Tuck.

Millennials living in the Western region of our study are less opposed to going under the knife. They are 27% more likely than Northeasterners to say they have had or would have elective surgery for cosmetic or weight loss purposes. Could it be that the Hollywood halo effect is stronger than that of the Silicon Valley?

#6: Northeasterners love games too: those played on the field… or rink.

Sports fandom seems to be stronger overall among Millennials in the Northeastern U.S. They are 2X as likely as Western Millennials to follow the National Hockey League and 44% more likely to follow Major League Baseball. They are 39% more likely to say they’ve played fantasy sports, and 53% more likely to share sports news on social media. Go team Northeast!

#5: A Market for Gun Safes?

Western Millennials are 33% more likely to own a gun than Northeasterners, perhaps a deeply rooted cultural difference heralding back to the days of the wild, wild West. But those Western young adults are also 25% more likely to have school-aged children living with them. So this seems to present a strong market opportunity for gun safety products.

#4: Who likes what more?

When it comes to certain consumer brands, geo differences among these two segments of Millennials get fairly pronounced. Northeasterners have a stronger preference for Panera Bread, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Timberland shoes, while Western Millennials are more likely to favor Costco, Jamba Juice, and Nordstrom Rack. Overall though, Millennials favor brands that align with active yet economical lifestyles.

#3: Who’s Smarter?

Northeastern Millennials in general may be more educated, but that doesn’t mean they are on the cutting edge of consumer practices among their demo group. They are 31% more likely to have a post-high school degree, and they are 29% more likely to subscribe to a print newspaper. Yes, you read that correctly: print. They don’t just kick it old school there either: Northeastern Millennials are 24% more likely than Westerners to have a land-based telephone line.

#2: Westerners keep things lighter when it comes to what they watch.

Millennials in the Western region are 32% more likely to watch sitcoms the most among TV show genres, and they are 26% more likely to go to the movies at least once a month. Northeasterners on the other hand prefer dramas on TV, and they are 28% more likely to watch their local news shows every day or most days.

#1: The Westerners’ dietary conundrum.

This one got us scratching our heads, which is why it’s ranked number one on our list. Millennials in the West say they are more mindful of their diet. In fact, they are 69% more likely than Northeasterners to purchase locally grown food every chance they get – one of the biggest statistical differences we found between the two segments – and 25% more likely to say the presence of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) affects the products they buy at least half of the time. However, they are 38% more likely than the Northeasterners to eat at fast food restaurants at least once a week. Perhaps this is because they are more diligent about their diets most of the time and enjoy a good splurge, or perhaps it illustrates the difference between intent and behavior.

So, as you can see, the data doesn’t make it easy to apply broad statements to these segments, such as: “Western Millennials are more laid-back and healthy” (when more of them own guns and frequently eat fast food) or “Northeastern Millennials are more serious, studied, and harried” (when they are Snapchat-ing and dunking their doughnuts). This study on the regional differences of Millennials was more than just enjoyable, but we believe yielded some interesting insights that can be made actionable by consumer marketers and even policy makers.

To access a PDF of the complete infographic, please download it from here (no login needed).

About the Methodology:

The data used for this report was collected on June 20, 2014 via CivicScience’s polling and consumer insights platform. It is based on 248,231 anonymous, opted-in respondents aggregated from the past two years prior to the collection data. Regional data includes respondents from the following states: Western region: AK; AZ; CA; CO; HI; ID; MT; NM; NV; OR; UT; WA; WY; and Northeast region: CT; ME; MA; NH; NJ; NY; PA. RI; VT; No clients or trademark owners participated in conducting the specific polling questions used in this report, nor have they endorsed, approved, or otherwise provided any input regarding the results published here and in the referenced infographic. All responses were weighted for U.S. representativeness for gender and age.

Jennifer Sikora is the VP of Marketing at CivicScience, a polling site and polling application solution. Before joining CivicScience, Jennifer worked in marketing at companies like SciQuest, CombineNet, and Oracle. Bringing over 17 years of experience, she is well versed in the topic of marketing.