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Preparing for 2020: Getting to Know the Millennial Woman

September 1, 2015 | By Britta Cleveland, Senior Vice President, Research Solutions—Meredith Corporation

Are we ready for the year 2020? In only five short years, the millennial generation will be the largest, most influential generation we’ve encountered. They will represent the majority of the work force, account for two-thirds of all first-time home buyers and represent over $2.5 trillion in spending. While leading millennials have already embraced this “adult” life, trailing millennials will be following in their footsteps by the year 2020. What will this mean to publishers and marketers? Will millennial women follow their Gen-X and Boomer parents in their buying behavior and decision-making? Or will the advancement of technology – including smartphones, social media in the ‘always on’ world – dramatically change how we engage with them?

This is an important question for Meredith where our cornerstone content has been home, health, family, food and lifestyle for women inspired by our brands. For generations – including the Boomer’s sexual revolution of the sixties to the excess of the eighties and the Gen X generation who grew up alongside the progression of the online world as a mass media – Meredith content has evolved to meet her needs for the milestones and moments in between. We are constantly seeking new ways to help them search our recipes, get inspired by our home decoration ideas and share our parenting tips. Our “Women 2020” research initiative was designed to deliver targeted, data-driven insight on key audiences for both us and our marketing partners and brands through the lens of life stages and the influence of technology.

Here are a few key takeaways from this year’s Women 2020 report:

The Millennial Mindset
Millennial women are optimistic about their futures and, not surprisingly, are focused on issues close to home, i.e., themselves. The majority feel they will be happier, more fortunate and have more opportunities in five years. According to these millennial women, the most pressing issues facing women today are weight acceptance (27%) and wage equality (25%), very different than the more worldly boomers who see wage equality and domestic violence as the top issues facing women, with weight acceptance of much less importance (9%).

The Mobile Generation
Given the technology at their fingertips – literally – it’s only logical that smartphones and laptops are the millennial women’s chosen device to access the internet. Gen-Xers and Boomers also choose laptops as their #1 go-to device, but less than half of Boomers claim that their smartphone is the primary device to connect. This is especially evident when it comes to shopping. More and more women – led by millennials – are going online prior to shopping to look for sales, coupons and price comparisons and staying on line in the store. Specifically, when shopping for food, more than a quarter of millennial women are looking for coupons and using a grocery list app. Clearly, engagement with women as they prepare to shop is uniquely different than the Boomer’s we have helped navigate for years. Meredith’s recent acquisition of Qponix (a Grocery Server technology) allows us to serve her all of the content she is looking for in one place on our sites. We will be rolling this out to other categories, including beauty, as a result of this growing trend.

Media Sources & Roles
The list of media options and information and entertainment sources seems to have no limit, but that’s not an issue for millennial women (concurring with recent MomTrak research from Meredith’s Parents Network) who continue to add to the list of sources they turn to. No wonder it’s hard to get their attention! Each media fills a unique role. The primary reason women turn to online sources is as “a good source of learning” and a way to get “detailed information.” However, when focusing on millennial women, the #1 reason they go online is to keep them “informed and up-to-date”, in other words online is a key information source. When it comes to TV, all generations agree: it’s “pure entertainment” and TV “relaxes them.”

Women of all ages also agree on the main reason they rely on magazines. Magazines offer a sense of control (“can glance through quickly or read through thoroughly) and allow them to “unplug and disconnect from technology.” Perhaps the fear of missing out (FOMO) is being replaced with JOMO (the joy of missing out) and printed magazines are the solution.

Social media continues to grow as an integral part of women’s lives with nearly all women visiting Facebook at least once a week. Millennials and Gen-Xers also rely regularly on YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, offering a constant reminder to marketers to be sure to share relevant content everywhere she is, when she wants it. Trailing millennials are always on the lookout for the next new social sharing platform, with video-based offerings, such as Vine and Snapchat, playing a starring role. Blurring the line between content and marketing is accepted by these younger women, but authenticity and transparency is key – they will be skeptical otherwise (in fact 65% of millennials told us that they believe their friends & family have lied on social media – brands, watch out).

In line with their optimistic focus, they appreciate a playful tone and are more likely to share when the content is delivered with humor and a realistic reflection of themselves. Women in general are known to be “sharers” but due to the growth of social networking, sharing, recommending, reviewing and posting is a natural next step for millennials after buying or using a product. But social networks aren’t the only place where women share – in person or on the phone remains the dominant mode of sharing in the three categories covered in this study (beauty, food and home). Meredith takes this eagerness about sharing to heart. In fact, it’s the driving reason behind the relaunch of Allrecipes.com as a social media network for foodies, rolling out this fall.

Are we ready for 2020? We are already using insights from “Women 2020” continue to inform our editorial content strategy, our acquisitions and the products and programs we bring to market. As a company with over a century of engagement with women on what matters most to them, we know that it is critical to continually evolve to meet the next generation’s needs.


Britta Cleveland (@minibcw) is the Senior Vice President of Meredith’s Research Solutions group, a position she has held since 2004. She is responsible for all of Meredith’s National Media Brands, including three of America’s top 10 in terms of circulation: Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle and Parents and the Meredith Digital network which includes leading women’s websites, such as allrecipes.com and parents.com Prior to joining Meredith, Britta was the Director for Advertising Research at Reader’s Digest, and for the 15 years prior she worked on the advertising agency side of the business in the NY offices of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and held media planning positions in the San Francisco offices of Foote, Cone & Belding and Dancer, Fitzgerald, Sample.

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