The mysterious Generation Y
Generation Y, also known as Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995, and already outnumber Baby Boomers and out power their parents in spending power, so marketers are salivating over how to reach this generation who values the opinions of strangers online equally to the opinions of their friends and family1.
24/7 Wall St. created a list of products that the “Facebook Generation” (aka GenY, aka Millennials) would not be buying in the future, but do Millennials agree?
Millennials will not use email in the future
Although Google and Microsoft are likely to disagree, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg called email “too formal,” which is the basis of 24/7’s argument that Millennials will not use email for much longer, pointing to email use falling for the 12-17 demographic and rising for people over 55.
The idea that email is disappearing is ludicrous, in fact, email use is on the rise across the board as spam filters are finally working 20 years later, and we all get as much spam on social networks as we do in our email inbox. Zuckerberg has never lived in a cubicle, so his word is not final on this matter, and considering 12 to 17 year olds as the benchmark for email use is misguided, as they are not yet in the professional world. What is accurate, however, is that for personal use, it is not likely any Millennial will pay for email, so we can meet 24/7 half way on this one.
Generation Y won’t buy beer
According to 24/7, there is a shift in beer consumption, and after traditional beer brewers like Budweiser having relied on men in their 20s are watching their core demographic slip away to lite brands. Budweiser research reveals that 40 percent of young people today have never tried regular beer, which was 10 percent in 1988.
This is a really complicated product for a number of reasons, but is worth looking at for other industries to learn about the Millennial generation. 24/7 is right in that the traditional beers are being ditched for light beers, but moreover, the generation is more open to wine and mixed drinks, as the generation has much fuzzier gender boundaries than former generations – it’s not butch for a girl to drink a beer, and it’s not feminine for a guy to order a mixed drink.
We’ve come a long way since the Mad Men era of scotch and masochism, and most marketers are highly ignoring the changing gender roles. It’s okay for a man to be the stay at home parent in the Millennial generation, it’s okay for a woman to be a CEO, and sexuality is blurred as well. These all play a role in purchase decisions as men and women are less concerned with what a product choice says about their gender or sexuality.
Newspapers are on the way out
People under 30 don’t read newspapers now, and media companies are scrambling to figure out their next move – 24/7 is right on with this projection. Millennials are mobile, and they are multi-taskers. Reading a newspaper requires one to sit still and look at the same thing for an extended period, which is not a common behavior for Millennials when it comes to media consumption.
Books are still in use for this generation, but the next will not likely even touch print. The web opens so many doors and allows information to flow freely, so although newspapers in print will not reach Millennials, digital news does, and boy, does this generation consume a lot of that, whether it is niche news or celebrity news.
No more cars?
This one surprised us a bit, as 24/7 says less than half of all Americans 19 and under had a license in 2008, and car sales have struggled to reach the younger demographics.
Why is this? In my opinion, there are four reasons. First, after high school, most Millennials do not see see cars as a status symbol as previous generations did. Secondly, laws have changed dramatically for this generation, many of whom were not legally allowed to get a license at 16, so that “sweet 16” mentality is shifting, so the importance placed on that car is different now. Third, although frequently accused of being “slacktivists,” Millennials volunteer more hours and give more money to environmental causes than any generation in history, grew up around recycling, were told by age 10 that global warming was real and it was our fault. Lastly, cars are becoming less relevant because Millennials are flocking to the city and emphasizing buying homes and condos that have high walkability – it is almost cool with this generation to boast that they “got rid of” their car.
24/7 argues that most 25-29 year olds live in a household with only wireless phones. There is no arguing here – I’ve had a cell phone since I was too young to get one without an adult co-signer, and although I grew up with a phone in my house, by the time I was in college, no one talked on the phone, we all texted or emailed or instant messaged. Dorms and student apartment housing being built now in some cities does not have the wiring for landlines, as developers are discovering that it is a feature most do not use, thus a corner that can be cut.
What is still up for debate is VOIP phones, as most Millennial entrepreneurs that I know have this as their setup so they can have a professional voicemail system or route it to other staff including an assistant. This avoids professional contacts calling their cell phone and getting the “wazzuuuuppppp!!?????” voicemail greeting.
I would add that many Millennials, having grown up with social networks (in my case AOL, ICQ, etc., and in my final year of college, Facebook) divide their personal life from their professional life in a very guarded way, not friending anyone on Facebook that they haven’t met in person and know socially. Keeping a separate phone is something I can see increasing in coming years, but not so that there is a landline, but due to the division of personal and professional as the generation becomes acutely aware of how each impacts the other.
Suck it, cigarettes
Smoking rates among young people have historically exceeded those of the general population. Now that group is dropping the habit quicker than anyone (down 17.6 percent from 2005 to 2010) while it Americans over 65 have increased their smoking by 10.5 percent in the same period.
What businesses need to glean from this particular factoid is that Millennials may eat junk food, but anything that is obviously a health risk is often avoided, even binge drinking which is decreasing as well. I find my generation to be very conscious of being healthy; not necessarily for vanity, but for reasons of health. Think of it this way – a first date in 1980 might entail a 24 year old discussing what car they drive (going back to the car prediction), what high profile job they have, what texture is on their business cards (I kid), while a 24 year old today will chat about what local foods they like, or where they go running in the morning, or how they worry that their shirt took a trillion gallons of pollutants to make. These two cases are obviously an exaggeration, but my point remains.
Dude, you’re not getting a Dell
24/7 notes that Millennials are the only demographic to own more laptops than desktops, and most buy laptops as their first computers. I would add that the rising popularity of tablets will also have an impact on the fact that Millennials are not typically tied to desktops for personal use, but of course, all are bound by what their employer requires of them.
Technology manufacturers will adjust, and already know that mobile is where it’s at. Smartphones did not replace computers as once suspected, as websites and technology did not catch up fast enough, and Millennials are bi-techtual, meaning they usually own more than one device. It is common to own a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, not necessarily by the same manufacturer – not all Mac fans are die-hard, many will own a Macbook Pro and an Android smartphone, so brand loyalty is also in flux.
Television is absolutely on the way out
Although television sets are not at all going away, the viewing habits are rapidly changing, with Millenials between 18 and 24 watch less traditional television than any other demographic and Netflix and Hulu are taking over viewing for this generation. Many do not even have cable, which is an adjustment that carriers will be impacted by, but will likely make up the difference by increasing internet rates, claiming there is no more bandwidth because of the video streaming, so the costs will even out in the long run.
Millennials are not a complex generation, we just grew up with technology, which doesn’t make us more special, smarter or faster than any generation, just different in how we consume products. We care less about status symbols and more about convenience. We care less about being called gay for ordering the wrong drink or wearing the wrong shirt, and we genuinely care about our health after watching the previous generation force airplane seats to widen by however many inches over the decades.
Marketers frequently miss the mark in reaching Millennials, tying to much of their assessments to technology and the impact it has had on the generation, but it is much more sociological than many believe. It has less to do with a stupid iPad and more to do with how we see ourselves and those around us, having had a different type of access to the world via the web. It is important for brands of all size that plan on growing in coming years to understand the relatively dramatic shifts going on right now in consumer behavior, as Millennials are now very powerful buyers in the market.
Video is necessary for your marketing strategy
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!
As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.
Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.
The promotional angle
One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.
First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.
What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.
Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.
It’s all about strategy
However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.
Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.
It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.
Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.
The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.
As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?
Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020
When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.
How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.
Think Brick And Mortar
As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.
Reach Customers With PPC
Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.
While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.
It’s All About The Platforms
When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.
One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.
The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.
Advertising overload: Let’s break it down
(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.
If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.
Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.
In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.
“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.
This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.
It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.
Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.
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