The Millennials of Malaysia

The Millennials of Malaysia

One might have thought that all marketing buzzwords are equal everywhere. Take the case of demographic groupings. It’s easy – tempting even, to generalise all Gen Xers or Millenials across the globe. But here’s an honest question – Could there be the slightest possibility that a GenX-er in the US has a marked difference from the ones on Malaysian land?

You are the judge, but while finding the answer to this, it might be helpful to consider these:

Technological differences between the US and the rest of the world

The telephone was invented in 1876, but Malaysia’s first public telephone exchange did not happen until 1891 in Kuala Lumpur. That is almost 2 decades apart between the two events. And even in 1960, telephone penetration was extremely low at less than 1 per 100.

The much-loved, soon-to-be-obsolete compact disc (CD) was finally fully developed in 1980, but for the next decade, Malaysians were enjoying their music from cassettes.

Academic differences

Up till the 1990s, Malaysians were still reliant on an overseas education for many tertiary courses, some as common as law or engineering.


The US family unit has experienced a major change, and while ours have too, the differences in our values have never been bridged completely. Our Asian values such as filial piety are deeply rooted, and one can’t deny that it affects our priorities in our purchasing behaviour.

Having that in mind, let us explore the much-debated group of people, the Millenials, or more commonly known as Gen Yers. We need to learn how to define them accurately to suit our local marketing needs. The international definition of Millenials is those born between 1980 and 2000. Here, to take into consideration of the various issues highlighted above, we’ll delay the period defined by 5 years, which stands for 1985 till 2005.


Millennials in Malaysia, the digital generation.

Millennials have taken up some 40%-50% of the current workforce, according to a 2012 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Malaysia. That makes them the driving force of the economy and puts them at the forefront of the Malaysian consumer population.

Their drive, values, and ambitions certainly differ from the older generation. Millennials want to be empowered and be engaged. Digitally savvy, and technology-driven, they are more connected and thrive on being an active part of the community they are in.

Quick stats on Malaysia’s social media use:

Facebook is the most visited site in Malaysia, with 13.3 million users as at July 2013.
Highest users are aged 18-24 at 34.5% (born from 1990 to1996)
Then second-highest at 29.5% are aged 25-34 (born from 1980 to 1989)
Lastly, 16.3% are those aged 13-17 years (born from 1997 to 2001)

According to a recent New Straits Times article, “while Malaysian Internet users may have their favourite platforms, they do use a wide range of different services to stay connected – far more than is seen globally.”

Reaching Malaysian Millennials Online: Is Forbes’ Brand Atom Model the answer?

In an era of advertising where Malaysian consumers are smarter and better-informed, what’s the best way to capture their attention? How do marketers compete with millions of other online content materials? How do marketers retain this segment of their audience whose attention can be so easily swayed?

Forbes recently explored a new model for advertising to this young population. The Brand Atom Model does not propose a linear solution, unlike older models such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the AIDA purchase intention model.












Source: Forbes

The Source of Energy

This refers to the nucleus of a brand where information sharing is commonplace. Millennials hardly rely on one source alone for information but also from friends and family.

Forming a Partnership

Millennials aren’t just consumers but brand ambassadors. They can be your brand’s advocates. They want to participate because their favourite brands are a part of their lives.

Providing an Experience

The experience with a brand is personal and extends to the Millennial’s social circle. Any positive experience will be shared with others. However, the same goes for a bad experience.

Intensify Intrigue

To start a relationship, you have to first be intrigued by the person (or brand). Make people want to start a relationship with your brand. Be mysterious but approachable.

Create Meaning

At the end of the day, an experience is memorable only if it means something. A product is no longer static and instead hinges on more than just function. Create meaning for your brand in the hearts of Millenials.



Jeff Fromm, 7 Oct 2014 – The Secret To Bud Light’s Millennial Marketing Success

PricewaterhouseCoopers, June 2012 – Millennials at Work: Reshaping the workforce

Malaysia-Asia, Sept 2013 –

New Straits Times, 29 Sept 2014 – Social media-savvy Malaysians

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