Millennials are the focus of countless conversations, studies, and entire marketing campaigns as more and more emphasis is put on catering for millennials and their information and communication needs. But why all the fuss around a demographic which is so fuzzy that even a consistent definition can’t be found?
The answer is simple.
Firstly, according to KPMG, there are already 13.8 million millennials living in the UK and representing 35% of the workforce. What’s key in this statistic is this groups’ propensity to spend their earnings – borne of an attitude to ‘live the moment’ or for ‘fear of missing out’. Secondly, as the youngest demographic with disposable incomes, their potential long-term value promises brands continuous buying power so long as they can retain customer loyalty.
68% of millennials
are more likely
to buy a product
after seeing a friend
post about it.
As with each new generation, the shift in demographic is accompanied by noticeable changes in habits, and as a creative agency we must consider the millennial approach, especially to information consumption and the issues that accompany it.
News and content consumption of millennials is very different to any generation that has gone before them. Contrary to the baby boomer generation – who prioritise setting time aside to inform themselves, or the gen xers – who consume information in opportunistic and convenient blocks, millennials satisfy their need to stay updated continually throughout the day, ‘snacking’ on information – often, and most interestingly, as a means of distraction as opposed to a way of gathering information. And herein lies the issue.
In a recent interview with David Letterman on Netflix, Barack Obama pointed out that one of the greatest threats to democracy in modern day life is the degree to which we don’t share a common base line of facts. Our social media and Google search histories influence the information we’re shown - this is no revelation. However, it means that unless we consciously endeavour to gather information from different independent sources, in order to help shape a fuller picture, we face the danger of creating information bubbles around ourselves that result in high levels of polarisation within society – the effects of which we are already starting to witness. Arguably, having grown up with smartphones in their hands providing an endless flow of information, automatically tailored to them by algorithms, millennials are more exposed to this danger than any generation before.
So, what does this mean for agencies and brands? How can we market products and services, whilst remaining trustworthy and authentic? How can we reach millennials without getting overlooked or lost in the clutter of content?
Essential to this is UGC. ‘User Generated Content’ doesn’t just pop up because of an algorithm, it originates from a source trusted by the user - which for millennials means friends they rely on - and in today’s digital world, influencers and micro-influencers have just as much of a role to play in being this trustworthy and authentic ‘friend’ as a real-world one does.
Agencies and brands need to acknowledge this and realise that it’s in their best interest to prioritise the acquisition of brand advocates and UGC within their marketing strategies – after all 68% of millennials are more likely to buy a product after seeing a friend post about it. And by understanding the needs of this valuable demographic, brands can begin emerging from the information jungle and reaching millennials with exactly the kind of content they want to see.
KPMG: Meet the Millennials
eMarketer: Millennials' Social Media Posts Influence Peers to Buy New Products