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Generation Flex: Millennials are the Messaging Amplifiers

Posted on | December 30, 2007 | No Comments

In Deloitte’s second “State of Media Democracy” survey, the younger generations of Americans – not surprisingly – are leading the way in embracing new technologies and creating a trickle up effect where older generations are learning from the younger ones.

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Fielded by independent research firm the Harrison Group in late October, this latest online survey included 2,081 U.S. media consumers between the ages of 13 and 75. The survey results provide keen insights into the different generations and their media consumption habits.

Gavin O’Malley, has written in his piece on the survey for MediaPost Publications, that one-in-three consumers now consider themselves “broadcasters”. I did not read the entire study, having only Deloitte’s executive summary to reference, but my interpretation is not so much that young generations really consider themselves broadcasters, but that they have tools at their disposal that their predecessors didn’t at the same age which allow them to do what all generations have done, tell their friends about what they like and dislike. Both Generation X and the Millennials (defined in the chart above) are putting more personal content out there in the form of videos, photos and to a lesser extent blogs, but their real “voice” can be heard in what Deloitte has termed “amplification”.

When Millennials find something they like, they broadcast it, and the power of their amplification is extensive.

The Millennials surveyed maintain large instant messaging (IM) and texting lists that average 37 people, compared with just 17 for the entire sample.And when they find a particular television show or Web site they enjoy, they tell an average of 18 people, compared with only 10 people for all age groups. According to the survey, word of mouth is the most common reason for Millennials to visit a Web site…

The fact that young people embrace technology in this country is by no means new information. What was however interesting from the study is this same groups’ affinity for what we now deem to be more “traditional” forms of media – especially print publications.

The survey found that despite their eagerness to embrace new media, Millennials have an affinity for “traditional” media, such as print publications and television. Almost 6 in 10 survey respondents (58 percent) say they use magazines to find out about what’s “cool and hip,” such as clothes, cars and music. Perhaps more important, almost three-quarters (71 percent) enjoy reading print magazines even though they know they could find most of the same information online.

So if I am interpreting this correctly, Millennials do consume their share of traditional media content but then utilize new forms of media to tell others about it [amplify it]. This to me is really relevant food-for-thought for marketers and media.Gavin also points out that:

Two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement, “I would willingly be exposed to more online advertisements if it meant I could receive free content that I found valuable.” Another two-thirds said they “would click on more Internet ads if they were more targeted to my needs.”

If you add some of the study’s facts together, it seems that the online advertising industry is still not getting “relevancy” right, and the more tech savvy youth are therefore creating the relevancy amongst one-another.The study goes on to address some interesting generalities about the older dems. Take for example Generation X: (I happen to fall into this group and can somewhat relate)

Generations Xers enjoyed the explosion of new entertainment in their youth and continue to embrace entertainment today. They are the most interested in general lifestyle/personal interest information, including celebrity and entertainment news. They are also most likely to be visiting television show Internet sites.

So apparently, we older dems as a mass, enjoy to be inspired more by celebs than by each other, which if you think about it, has far more to do with the media tools we have traditionally had out our disposal than by whom we really want to be inspired. Apparently, the reasons behind Gen Xers’ consumption of CGM is unclear however, almost 25% of highly influential Xers report finding it more entertaining than traditional media. Gen Xers are also, so the study goes, the primary web surfers. Again, we created the web and web surfing, but will not be the generation to perfect it.

For the habits of Boomers and Matures, I refer you the executive summary if you have not already clicked on the same link above. To me this is significant food for thought for marketers and media.Some of the advertising insights derived from the research include:

  • 64 percent [of all respondents] tend to pay greater attention to print ads in magazines or newspapers than advertising on the Internet
  • More than one-in-four would pay for online content vs. being exposed to ads
  • Search engines and word of mouth are the most effective means for driving Web site traffic — 85 percent of Xers are influenced by someone’s recommendation
  • 87 percent of respondents continually visit the same Web sites
  • Generation Xers are a little more responsive to advertising

To read more: download the PDF from Deloitte.

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