Home > A Break in the Ranks Among Millennial Males: 18-to-25-year-olds are the New Traditionalists, Finds Ketchum Study

A Break in the Ranks Among Millennial Males: 18-to-25-year-olds are the New Traditionalists, Finds Ketchum Study

Ketchum and maslansky + partners Launch ‘Language of Men’ Portfolio to Help Marketers Better Target Today’s Category-bending Men

Alicia Stetzer

NEW YORK, June 12, 2014 – Despite the stereotype that millennials are nothing like their dads or granddads, it turns out that not all millennials are created equal. A Language of Men study conducted by Ketchum, one of the world’s leading communications firms, and maslansky + partners, a research-driven language strategy firm, indicates that a notable subset of millennial males, those 18-to-25-years-old, are emerging as the New Traditionalists, expressing beliefs and values more typically associated with previous generations.  

This represents a breaking of the ranks with the older segment of millennials, defined by Ketchum as those age 26 to 35, who appear less traditional in their views and open in their communications. The survey polled 900 U.S. males age 18 to 49 on how they talk about relationships, sex, health, appearance and careers to assess not only how they communicate with each other but also whether marketers and communicators need to reassess how they talk to this influential consumer demographic.

According to the Language of Men study, the New Traditionalists are:

  • More likely than older millennials to believe men are still expected to be provider and protector (23 percent versus 15 percent of older millennials)
  • More likely to say it matters that men are the breadwinners in a marriage (40 percent versus 33 percent)
  • More likely to think the “strong, silent” stereotype still applies to them (28 percent versus 24 percent)
  • Less likely to think it’s OK to be vulnerable about their looks with friends (67 percent versus 74 percent)

Being Open about Feelings Puts the ‘New’ in New Traditionalist

Yet these New Traditionalists are not just bowtie-wearing clones of older branches in the family tree. Compared to Generation X (those age 36 to 49), young millennial males find it easier to talk about subjects like relationships, health and insecurities that not long ago were considered too private or “unmanly” to share with guy friends. Today close to three out of four (72 percent) males age 18 to 25 would readily share their feelings about a devastating breakup with a male friend as compared to 63 percent of males age 36 to 49. They also don’t mind if the tables are turned, with two-thirds (68 percent) saying it doesn’t make them uncomfortable if a male friend is emotional in front of them. 

According to Bill Reihl, managing director of Ketchum’s Global Brand Marketing Practice, the study underscores that today’s male is anything but monolithic.

Said Reihl: “This study delivered several findings that caused us to rethink preconceived notions about the male demographic. The key lesson is ‘marketers, stereotype at your own risk’. Age and gender should just be the starting point – companies today have an opportunity to identify unique insights and establish true audience intimacy with this complex and diverse demographic, leading the way to strong brand preference.”

Shining a Light into the Man Cave

Looking more broadly at men age 18 to 49, the Language of Men study shows a marked shift in how men behave today, defying the conventional notion of the single-dimensional, hard-to-read guy who spends the majority of his free time consumed with sports. Today’s male overwhelmingly (69 percent) reports that he is increasingly comfortable talking with his male friends about personal issues such as love, relationships and health. In fact, close to a third (28 percent) say they want to be even more open and honest, while a mere 6 percent say they do not talk openly at all about personal issues.  

The same tendency towards openness applies to conversations about sex, although the comfort level decreases slightly as men age. Men today also have conversations on a wide range of topics. They’re even increasingly willing to trade advice on things like clothing and shopping, with eight out of ten reporting they’re likely to ask a friend where they got a shirt if it’s a style they like. And that man cave isn’t always filled with only men – nearly half of men (46 percent) say their time spent hanging out is split evenly between males and females. 

“In today’s crowded media landscape, it’s harder than ever to break through and more critical than ever to find language that truly resonates with your target audience,” said Michael Maslansky, CEO of maslansky + partners. “The Language of Men study provides new insights into the way men think, behave and, critically, communicate. These insights into how men actually communicate – and how they want to be communicated to – is valuable for anyone trying to reach men.” 

New Language of Men Portfolio

Ketchum and maslansky + partners have tailored a range of services to help clients begin to uncover the interests and motivations of their male target audiences and develop the language and communications strategies to most effectively engage with them. Among these Language of Men offerings are:

  • Guy Talk Millennial Check-in: A detailed analysis of a company’s most significant, outward-facing communications is conducted based on insights developed over thousands of hours of research into how male audiences react to communication. The analysis provides a full breakdown of what the brand is actually saying today without realizing it, calling out what’s working, what’s not and, most importantly, the “why” behind it. 
  • Guy Talk Response Analysis: Instant Response Dial technology is used to conduct one-on-one discussions with members of the target audience to get a real-world read on how they react to a brand or company’s messaging. Coming out of this high-level testing, brands will learn exactly how their targets are reacting to their current communications and, critically, what steps they can take to ensure their message resonates in the future. 
  • Guy Talk Message Map: A working session with a company’s communications stakeholders is combined with research-driven insights into how a specific segment of the male demographic (younger male millennial or other) communicates around key topics to create a brand message map. The story map helps to ensure brands communicate to their key audiences in ways that lead to strong brand preference.

Ketchum has supported a variety of clients in their marketing to men initiatives. “Audience segmentation is a hallmark in any of our marketing initiatives. But these efforts are rapidly becoming increasingly sophisticated and precise as the male audience evolves and technology allows us to engage with consumers at the individual level,” said Jeffrey Moran, vice president of public relations and events at Pernod Ricard. “This study underscores the importance of micro-targeting and specific messaging to remain relevant in the market.”

About the Language of Men Study

This survey, which was conducted online, was conducted with 900 men from across the U.S. and included a representative mix of respondents based on race, age, income and education levels. The margin of error is 3.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. 

About Ketchum

Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 11 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented four PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., visit

About maslansky + partners

maslansky + partners is the world's only research-driven messaging firm to focus exclusively on language strategy. Based on the concept that It's Not What You Say, It's What They Hear™, m+p works with brands, CEOs, industries and politicians to develop the right language, narratives and messages to change target audience perceptions. Whether supporting advertising, PR, branding, employee communication or public affairs, m+p applies its pioneering research methodology to harness the role emotion plays in how people actually interpret messages and language and to help clients maximize the impact of their marketing and communication spend.  maslansky + partners, a part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., London and Paris.

About The DAS Group of Companies

The DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (, is a global group of marketing services companies. DAS includes over 200 companies in the following marketing disciplines: specialty, PR, healthcare, CRM, events, promotional marketing, branding and research. Operating through a combination of networks and regional organizations, DAS serves international, regional, national and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries. 

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