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.
Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.
Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.
And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.
The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.
However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.
Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.
This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.
Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.
Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.
Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.
We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.
Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.
While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.
There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.
The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.
For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.
If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.
According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”
There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.
It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.
We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.
There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning
(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.
The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.
According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.
The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.
Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.
COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.
Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.
It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.
If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.
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