Bustle Asked 1000 Millennial Women About Their Goals, Their Fears, And Their Hopes For The Future, & This Is What We Found

Ad failed to load

If there's anything millennials like doing, it's comparing ourselves to one another, for better or for worse. We can do it in line at the bodega, at work, on social media — the list goes on. But do we ever know what other millennial women really want? Bustle interviewed 1,001 readers about everything — from their political beliefs, to their romantic lives, to their spending habits, to their social media use — to find out what millennial women put first. And the insights, particularly on their spending habits and their romantic priorities, were fascinating.

The financial habits of millennial women are of enormous interest to researchers and brands around the world, not to mention curious onlookers. We have more purchasing power than any other generation, even if we're comparatively less affluent than millennial men. One study in 2017 found that millennial women have 30 percent more debt than men, on top of earning less. (That pesky wage gap rears its ugly head once more.) We're also more likely than our mothers to be struggle financially, but more likely to own businesses. We're also deeply socially conscious with our finances. "For me and many of the women in my life, money and meaning cannot be separated," Sarah Saska, CEO of Feminuity, a consulting firm specializing in diversifying workplaces, told the CFA Institute in June. Figuring out how millennial women deal with their bank accounts and what they want financially is a big undertaking, but the overall picture shows that millennial women spend their money conscientiously, and on stuff that matters.

Ad failed to load

Brands With A Conscience Matter


Millennial women, according to the Bustle survey, are prepared to wield their wallets responsibly, and are attracted to brands and companies that prioritize the environment and social justice. Fifty-one percent of them believe that brands need to give back to society instead of just making a profit, while a full 19 percent also think that brands should make a contribution to their wellbeing.

This sort of melding of commerce with social responsibility is something that's been coming to the fore recently, and that's a good thing. Equniox's #PoweredByPride Campaign, for instance, was one of the many advertising strategies that attempted to meld profit with socially responsible themes. That's something that millennial women respond to: 24 percent of the respondents believe that brands can create change, while 57 percent of them said that social good themes in advertisements had high appeal, and 36 percent said that cause-related elements appealed to them.

Millennial women are also buying with future plans in mind. According to Bustle's survey, 65 percent of the women said they intend to get married (if they're not already married, like 23 percent of respondents are). 57 percent want to have kids, and 44 percent said they were looking for love. Their purchasing choices are influenced by those particular desires, and their priorities; 37 percent are prioritizing their career, 31 percent their families, and 24 percent social good, all of which shape the way they're using their money. Some, for instance, even reported having savings accounts to help them freeze their eggs; 75 percent of respondents would rather advance their professional careers over their love lives. Millennial women want their buying habits to shape their future and change the world.

The World Has Changed Around Them


It's clear to say that the world today is vastly different from the one millennials grew up in. Today, millennial women have enormous freedom to disrupt old-fashioned conventions and forge their own path in life. 56 percent of respondents say they are currently pursuing their passions, and 98 percent of women surveyed by Bustle agree that women can work outside of the home and still be a good mother, while 26 percent consider reproductive rights to be the cause that's most important for them. But that doesn't mean traditional values aren't important to them: almost half of readers say that a happy family is a sign of a successful life, and 65 percent of readers don't think that monogamy is outdated. The Bustle reader melds tradition with independence — and this extends to how she makes her purchasing decisions, too.

While many of us likely grew up browsing the mall, Bustle respondents now conduct a lot of their shopping life online, particularly when it comes to learning about products. While past generations saw their dream car, lipstick, or brokerage firm represented on billboards, radio ads, or on TV, millennial women today largely get their knowledge from social media.


A full 81 percent tell Bustle that social media was the best way to reach them, with 42 percent identifying Facebook as the best medium in particular, and 40 percent saying it was Instagram. Websites they trusted were also a big factor, with 36 percent identifying those as a good place for brands to attract their attention. Bringing up the rear were online articles (35 percent) and online video (17 percent). If you're running a business that caters to millennial women, it seems that the wise money is to spend big on Insta content.

Purchases Are About Identity, Quality, And Luxury (Sometimes)


So what do millennial women actually buy, and why? The Bustle survey found that, contrary to stereotypes about millennials, meaningless browsing often isn't on the agenda for millennial women. They have strong ideas about what their purchase choices mean.

More than 20 percent of the respondents said that the brands they buy are a form of self-expression; picking up a vintage bag at a market says something different than getting the latest cult designer clutch from Net-a-Porter. But there were only a few categories in which brand names, and their reputations for quality, genuinely mattered. Millennial women seek brand names in technology, personal care, cosmetics and beauty, cars and health and wellness products, and they want high-end brands for phones, laptops and other tech, as well as cosmetics and toiletries. They don't want to waste time and money on drug store makeup or poor-quality computers.

In other areas, brands don't necessarily matter, or cheap brands rule the day. Millennial women don't really care about the branding of their furniture, office supplies, what their kids wear and use, or what they wear to the gym or use to exercise. (So much for expensive yoga mats.) They're inclined to go to cheaper brands for their wardrobes — shoes, clothes and accessories  and also for alcohol, while they're perfectly happy with store-brand purchases on food, household stuff and office supplies.


What do these rankings reveal? That millennial women are particularly attuned to quality when it comes to what they put on their skin and body, as well as where their digital lives are concerned. Cosmetics and beauty are a relatively inexpensive way to experience luxury and high production standards, while millennials aren't willing to compromise on lesser performance for their devices. Clothes and shoes aren't so crucial — millennial women are far more likely to balk at spending $2,000 on a coat than on a decent and necessary laptop. And when they do buy luxury, they are intent on investment; a new study from a diamond company found that, for millennial women making big purchases, authenticity and proper quality are hugely important. If they're going to buy a diamond or a car, they're going to research the hell out of it to make sure it's worth what they pay.

The end picture shows that millennial women want to make their purchases matter, and are willing to spend more on their priorities with brands that they trust. They demand a lot from their shopping and want it to work for them, even if they only have enough money for one MAC lipstick every two months. While people may bemoan millennials' readiness to kill off entire industries (newsflash: the Great Recession probably had a bigger hand in that than millennials), Bustle's survey makes it clear that with the money they do have, millennials will spend it thoughtfully, effectively, and on brands that resonate with them.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Partner Is "The One," Even If They Have Commitment Issues

There's nothing better than finding that one person you could actually see yourself spending the rest of your life with. However, realizing that your partner has commitment issues can put a damper on things. It may even have you questioning whether o…
By Kristine Fellizar

Bustle's Editors On Florida + Fergie

Welcome to a new week, Bustle readers! February is already more than halfway through, and the weather feels way more like spring than winter right now — but don't get used to it. There's a lot to recap today, from the latest on the tragic Parkland sh…
By Rachel Simon

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper