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

Access Full Report Here

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, molds, and amplifies.

Learn more about the Millennial identity in this video:

Code 2: Take Pride In Passions Over Professions

Why are Millennials so gung-ho about pursuing their passions?

For Millennials, careers aren’t about climbing ladders and crossing finish lines; they’re about finding an aggregation of interests and experiences that develop into passions. Their choices are motivated by the currency they value. And what they value is not just monetary, but also personal satisfaction, meaningfulness, and purpose.

Discover more about Millennials and their choice of passion and fulfillment below:

Code 3: Negotiate Life

How do Millennials manage to be happy as individuals without breaking the expectation of their authority figures?

Millennials recognize that they don’t run the world yet, but they will eventually. Instead of throwing tantrums, they’ve developed the skill of negotiating with authorities (whether it’s parents or employers) to be able to engage in their pursuit of happiness.

See how Millennials balance expectations and ambitions in their pursuit of happiness here:

Code 4: Into The Comfort Zone

How do we prevent Millennials from giving up when the going gets tough?

Millennials are at a stage where there are crucial transitions in their lives. Some ease in effortlessly and enthusiastically, while others find it difficult to adjust. During this stage, Travel and Gaming allow them the outlet and the latitude to go beyond borders and boundaries, and the freedom to express themselves as they attempt to take on the challenges ahead.

Learn about how Millennials motivate themselves through new experiences in this video:

Code 5: For Squad Eyes Only

What language are Millennials speaking?

Millennials, through the expression of their thoughts and ideas, have the natural ability to navigate and curate platforms. The Millennial Network, as we call it, explores the aggregation of words, images, and sounds that are expressed on and absorbed from different channels.

Uncover the Millennial Network and their language across different platforms in the following video:

Code 6: Reformat. Reboot. Delete.

How does technology reflect the nature of Millennial relationships?

Technology and the Internet heavily influence Millennial romances. They play a big role in their relationships; from initiating, to developing, to nurturing, to ending, and even influencing strong cultural courtship traditions.

See how technology influences the nature of Millennial relationships in this video:

Code 7: Trust in the cloud.

What are the potentials of this new worldview?

For Millennials, everything of value is stored in the Cloud. There is a shift in storing what is essential from physical spaces to virtual platforms. Millennials now consider their mobile devices of primary importance as it gives them access to money, services, and points which are all stored in the Cloud. This empowers their transactions and exchanges with the world.

Discover the Millennial shift from the physical to the virtual in this video:

Access Full Report Here

Behind the Study

Havas Anthropology studies people and culture. It reveals the rich nuances of human behavior that quantitative and other conventional research techniques do not capture. It uncovers stories that let us understand the “why” of people’s lives and help our brands do more to become meaningful in their lives.

The APAC Millennial Codes is a product of an ethnographic research conducted and mined by Havas Ortega’s Director of Applied Anthropology, Gayia Beyer, Head of Strategy, Vicky Ortega, and Havas APAC Group Chief Strategy Officer, Josh Gallagher. With over a decade of experience and fieldwork in the study of people’s mindsets, behavior, and culture, they have designed and led research programs employing a variety of ethnographic techniques both here and abroad. This expertise is now being utilized exclusively for the clients of Havas for their marketing strategies and communication campaigns.

The Asia-Pacific Millennial Codes brought to life

It’s one thing to learn how Millennials are informed by their Codes, and another thing to really see them in action. CNN Philippines, in collaboration with Havas Ortega, developed a series of reports on contemporary topics that were inspired and informed by the insights gained from the Asia Pacific Millennial Codes.

Marawi: Heartbreak and Homecoming / Click to read more
Positive/Negative: HIV and AIDS in the Philippines / Click to read more

DELVE DEEPER: While there have been many studies that try to understand the attitudes and behaviors of Millennials, not much discussion has been given to understanding the impact of being brought up both Asian and Millennial. After all, Millennials comprise more than 45% of the population in the Asia Pacific region.

Havas believes that effective brand leadership and engagement stem from treating your consumers as people foremost, and having meaningful relationships with them. Understanding the Asia Pacific Millennial Codes is essential to forming these relationships and implementing strategies to create value for Millennials.

Find out how you can make the most out of the insights revealed through a localized presentation of the “Asia Pacific Millennial Codes” and discover how we can work together to make your brands more meaningful to today’s Asian Millennial.

Contact Us
Iea Nepomuceno
Director – Special Projects, Havas Ortega


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