Millennial Codes
The Asia Pacific Millennial Codes

An ethnographic study that provides a deeper understanding of Asian Millennials and reveals hidden patterns and cultural dynamics that subconsciously direct their way of thinking, life choices, and goals.

Asia Pacific Millennial Codes

Published on June 2018


EVERY GENERATION WILL HAVE ITS OWN unique perspectives and behavior, the formation of which can be attributed to a variety of influences, such as geography, unique patterns of socialization, and cultural dynamics. These can collectively be referred to as Codes, cultural imprints that influence human behavior and perspectives.

As the rising generation of contemporary times and projected to comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020, Millennials are a key target of anthropological investigation, especially as regards to their own Codes. However, Millennials are far from a homogenous body, shaped as they are not only by the global environment, but also by their own local contexts. This holds true especially in Asia, where global influences are tempered by strong cultural value systems that differ from region to region. While the term and concept of the Millennial generation originates in Western thinking, the codes that shape the way Asian Millennials think, feel and act are unique and not synonymous with their counterparts in the West.

The Asia Pacific Millennial Codes is an ethnographic study that provides a deeper understanding of Asian Millennials, and reveals hidden patterns and cultural dynamics that subconsciously direct their way of thinking, life choices, and goals.

About the Study

Havas Group Asia Pacific embarked on a 2-year in-depth ethnography study of Millennials living in key cities across Asia Pacific: Bangkok, Jakarta, Hongkong, Shanghai, Beijing, Mumbai, New Delhi, Sydney, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Its primary focus was to build a Millennial “Thick Data” set – an approach that opts to take a deep and immersive understanding of each Millennial participant and the universes they revolve in.

To make this study possible, a team of Anthropologists, Researchers and Strategic Planners interviewed a total of 1,430 informants to enrich the 130 millennial portraits that formed the basis of the ethnography. Each portrait was done one-on-one. For each portrait-informant, around five in the millennial circle comprising of family or friends, for a total of 650 were also interviewed. Using the Life-stage Approach allowed for a holistic picture of the Millennial Mindset across Asia-Pacific.

Being a Millennial in Shanghai, which has a mesh of eastern and western cultures, may be different from being a Millennial in Delhi or Mumbai, having to live under the caste and class system. This may also different from being a Millennial in Manila, who has to reconcile liberal lifestyles with deeply rooted Catholic values or being a Millennial in Kuala Lumpur, which practices liberal and conservative Islam; but despite the diverse cultures in Asia, there are some similarities in their behavior. The APAC Millennial Codes takes into account these similarities, and provides context and a simpler explanation as to why Asian Millennials function and interact the way they do

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The 7 Asia-Pacific Millennial Codes

The study establishes 7 main themes, or “Codes” that provide a deeper understanding of what are the webs of significance in an Asian Millennial’s Life:

Code 1: Meta Me

What tools do Millennials use to build their identity, and how do they use them?

Through each layer, angle, interest, and experience that Millennials have, they aspire to “build a better Me.” “Me” is an identity that each Millennial creates, mo