Editor’s note: Bonnie Chiurazzi is a research director at market research firm Murphy Research, Santa Monica, Calif. 

What's the difference between a Millennial and a young adult? 

Ponder that for a moment. To set the scene, let's reflect on what was happening in the realm of marketing research in the 1990s and early 2000s. Millennials were growing up, becoming tech-savvy and eagerly participating in all the new social media networks. At the same time, researchers were discovering a wealth of data online, especially through social media and the availability of sample for online surveys. Shortly thereafter began the Great Recession, the economic event that shaped the Millennials' prospects just as they were ready to enter the job market. They stayed at home, went back to school, took advantage of the gig economy and eventually they trickled into the workforce. At first, there was a lot of interest in catering to these novel consumers with fresh new careers. Brands wanted to sell to them and companies wanted to hire them. 

And then, when they were just about to embark on their adult life (albeit later than the previous generations), the Millennial bashing began. Their publicly available digital lives and willingness to share their opinion came back to bite them. Sure, there were some great insights in the mix but study after study began highlighting the perceived flaws of this generation. They were late-blooming, lazy, entitled spendthrifts who spent most of their time socializing and skirting responsibility. That was about 10 years ago. Those sentiments have been used to describe previous generations as well. Older generations watching Boomers and Gen Xers emerge as adults questioned the ability of the younger generation to grow past their childlike nature and become contributing members of society. Which they did! And so are Millennials. And yet, the Millennial bashing still hasn't stopped. What exa...