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3 Things the Experts Taught Us About Millennials in 2014

December 15, 2014 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Given that at 80 million plus, they are the largest demographic in the country, there’s no ignoring the importance of courting the millennial consumer. While they are no more or less mysterious to those in older generations than the young people of any age, they have grown up in a digital world and that has shaped their behaviors and expectations. While most Americans are never far from their mobile devices, 80% of millennials actually sleep with their phones. They also spend almost twice as much time on social media sites. However they also switch their attention between media platforms 27 times an hour.  This generation also consumes an unprecedented amount of media, almost 18 hours/day (though much of it is consumed from several sources at once). So while the opportunity—in terms of audience size and quantity of media consumed—is enormous, gaining the attention of this generation and making an impact is certainly a challenge.

Here are three things we learned about millennials during our discussions with digital content experts this year that should help:

They are loyal, but not blindly so. Build and maintain trust to attract and engage millennials.

Millennials do have loyalty, but the challenge is in building it. Brands – whether they’re a publisher, beauty brand or tech company – need to be aware of a millennials’ aspirations to live mindful lives. They need to understand the values of millennials and inform his or her needs.
Philippe von Borries, Co-founder and CEO, Refinery 29

Above all else, young people value quality and honesty…What happens when you consistently provide premium, honest stories to your readers? You can create loyalty.
Jonathan Hunt, VP, Global Marketing and Partnerships, Vox Media
@jonathan_h @voxmediainc

Authenticity is paramount. More specifically, having a clear perspective, being transparent, and fostering meaningful dialogue are assets for attracting and retaining millennial consumers.
Gabriel Lewis, EVP Development & Strategy Maker Studios
@TheGabrielLewis @MakerStudios

For Millennials, [the] key aspect is trust.
Catherine Salazar, Managing Partner, Practice Lead MEC

Earn trust or die. Millennials are the driving force behind the shift from an attention-based economy to a trust-based economy.
Andrew Hanelly, SVP of Strategy at McMURRY/TMG
@hanelly @McMurryTMG

They are not passive consumers. Interact to engage millennials.

It’s the first generation to be raised in an environment where direct feedback to brands is very, very public. Millennials aren’t just consumers, they’re participants…and they expect to be treated with an appropriate level of respect in that conversation.

The explosive growth of social media among millennials is indicative of this dialogue-driven culture shift. Audiences can now connect directly with brands and creators that resonate with them.
Gabriel Lewis, EVP Development & Strategy Maker Studios
@TheGabrielLewis @MakerStudios

Most agencies and consultants will tell you that the key to social is listening and responding. That’s a nice start, and listening is necessary, but you have to participate to gain traction and build trust.
Andrew Hanelly, SVP of Strategy at McMURRY/TMG
@hanelly @McMurryTMG

When it comes to marketing to millennials, don’t. Market with them to succeed.
Claire Tavernier, Managing Director, Channel Flip Media
@CTav @channelflip

Mobile Matters. Mobile and multiplatform are the foundation of millennial consumption.

“We are finding that certain brands are more attractive to the millennial target. And the way they are accessing our sites has changed. They use the content at different times and are doing much more on mobile devices.”
Andy Wilson, Meredith Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Meredith

 “Non-linear content [is] becoming a key component of the media behavior of the target and that mobile was the primary platform for digital media usage.”
Catherine Salazar, Managing Partner, Practice Lead MEC

“For younger and international audiences, mobile video has been an opportunity for us. We do see that our video skews younger so it introduces new audiences into NYT premium journalism.”
Sara Poorsattar, The New York Times’ Director of Video Products
@saraparveen @nytimes

“Particularly among millennials, there is a shift away from TV to online, set top boxes and mobile. Sooner or later, it will hit a point of no return.”
— Andrew Lipsman, Vice President of Marketing & Insights, comScore

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