This past weekend I had to pleasure of attending a Millennial wedding (both bride and groom were born in 1990) for the daughter of a close family friend. Also attending was a close colleague of mine who brought his family which included a daughter in the Millennial generation. In between the weekend festivities of an Indian – Mexican wedding, observing the lifestyles and preferences of those in their 20’s elicited some very compelling conversation between those of us in our 30’s and 40’s. Specifically, what are the tools available to those in their teens and attending was a close colleague of mine who brought his family which included a daughter in the Millennial generation. In between the weekend festivities of an Indian – Mexican wedding, observing the lifestyles and preferences of those in their 20’s elicited some very compelling conversation between those of us in our 30’s and 40’s.
Specifically, what are the tools available to those in their teens and 20’s that weren’t available to me, and how does it impact behaviour? I don’t think I grew up in the dark ages; while I do remember rotary phones, AOL, pagers, and dial up modems, by the time I entered college broadband, email, and cell phones were the norm. Then, why do we think Millennial behaviour is so different, and for the purpose of this blog, how does that understanding help me better market to them? Below are my findings – continue reading beyond it to learn how we arrived at these behaviour conclusions.
So what are the distinct behavioural changes?
- Much shorter attention spans, typically ranging in the frame of 25-55 seconds per frame of content (unless watching a youtube video or show or movie)
- Much smaller tolerance for uncompelling content, since moving to another form of entertainment is just a few clicks away
- Much faster conversation cycles (monthly, about 1500 text-based messages sent, 2500 received, 90 pictures shared, 18 videos shared) spread out over longer periods of time (for example, an average whatsapp user spends 205 minutes a week on the platform, or about 3 seconds per message)
- Increased conditional loyalty – if something is compelling, they will keep on coming back, but if the quality of the content decreases, a substitute will be quickly found
Keeping these behavioural changes in mind, here are the ways that marketing strategy needs to change:
- Because so much content exists, inherently a lot of the content and messaging becomes homogeneous. Even if you are a selling a commodity, your message can’t be. It has to be immediately compelling and relevant.
- Since attention span will be about 15 seconds, you have don’t have much time to drive home the message, so if using video, make your point in the first 8 seconds.
- The human brain won’t commit to memory after 15 seconds, so repetition matters. This is why it is so important that your message is compelling, because if you repeat a commoditized message, it has an increasingly negative effect
- Negativity doesn’t work, and to a lesser extent, neither does FUD. Millennials react to positive message much better than negative ones.
- Relevancy matters. Youtube receives over 50% of its clicks from recommendations on the sidebar from existing videos. This is very, very powerful.
How did we get here? First off, we all agreed this weekend that human motivations have not changed over the past 5,000 years, only behaviours which are a result of the tools available are. Put another way, humans have always been a sharing, social, gossiping animal, it is just the extent with which how much we can socialize and with how many.
So if motivations haven’t changed, and tools haven’t changed (remember, I also grew up with broadband, phones, and MySpace when I was in my teens and 20’s), what makes Millennials so different? The answer we came to was that the sheer amount of content that is now available, and the ease with which we can access multiple sources of content on singular devices. These two things together have fundamentally changed the behaviour of Millennials, and to a lesser extent everyone who has access to the tools.
As we were relaxing on Saturday evening, one of the parent’s around us was saying that their child was always on their phone – watching K-Pop (Korean pop; it’s really a thing), youtube videos, and messaging on kakao messenger (whatsapp this teenager told me, was what her parent’s use). I was instantly transported back to my teenage years, when my parents complained that ‘kids now days watch too much TV,’ which I could then imagine my grandparents saying to my parents ‘you listen to too much radio.’ So, the devices themselves are just an extension of what was available before. No, what has changed now is the sheer amount of content available, and how easy it is to access anywhere. I truly believe 99% of the content being created (email and spam, photos, videos, reality tv, tweets, facebook posts) is truly not compelling to me, however, there is so much content, that even that 1% can take up my entire day. Compare that to just 20 years ago, when you could turn on the TV, and a very common complaint was, ‘there is nothing good on.’
Today, you can use your smartphone to email, message, watch youtube, netflix, hulu, cable tv, play games, browse the web, create a presentation, and even make phone calls, literally you could spend all day every day and have something compelling to do. This huge paradigm shift takes unchanging motivations and creates completely new behaviours; behaviours we need to recognize, understand why they are happening, and then deliver brand messaging that aligns with behaviours. The behaviours listed above is a result of our ability to access incredible amounts of compelling content anywhere. It is equally important to understand that what defines compelling content is different to everyone. Take eSports as an example (watching video games online): today the market is estimated at $750M with online viewership of 188M. Within just two years (2018) this is expected to grow to a $1.9B market with online viewership approaching 600M people. I don’t know anyone that watches video games online, and that content is not compelling to me, but it sure is compelling to a lot of people out there
Your ability to reach your target audience is greater than ever, but the effort to know your customer is even more important than ever. Like compelling content, do it right, and the reward is greater than ever, but the margin of error on what you can message with is smaller than ever.