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Learning to please the love ‘em and leave ‘em millennial crowd

September 11, 2017 | By Peggy Anne Salz, Founder and Lead Analyst – Mobile Groove @peggyanne

Millennials – the ‘distracted demographic’ between the ages of 18 and 34 were weaned on the Internet and spoiled by content choice. They have grown up to become the largest generation in the U.S. with a wallet to match. If you think it’s a lucrative audience ripe for the taking, think again.

Tapping the significant opportunities and tackling the even greater challenges around influencing this massive audience requires a deep understanding of digital content consumption trends and how their evolving media habits make them different from the rest of the population.

This is where Millennials on Millennials, the research program and research report series from global performance management company Nielsen is breaking new ground to offer critical insight into topics that impact Millennials and the media industry as a whole. The inaugural report and the second in the series, released in August by Nielsen’s own Millennial associates, leverage Nielsen audience datasets to shed important light on the “why’s” behind key engagement trends and highlight the ways brands, marketers and content companies can seek connect with this highly coveted demographic.

While the first in the series uncovered hard truths about Millennials (they are glued to their smartphone, they are distracted by multitasking and they are bothered by advertising -unless it is a precursor to accessing free content), the second volume of research reveals hard numbers around their digital media and social media usage.

It’s no secret that Millennials are engaged with digital content during all waking hours of the day and keep their devices close by – and turned on – when they sleep. In fact, Millennials are glued to their smartphones (1,179 minutes each in Q4 2016 on their devices compared to 659 minutes for those aged 35-49).


Top of the list, and leading by a massive margin, is communication via social media platforms and apps. Unsurprisingly, these platforms have grown up with Millennials and are now an integral part of the daily routine. While social communication use has plateaued at an extremely high level, growth is getting a boost from Millennials that have broadened the number of services and apps they use. Specifically, 70% of Millennials report using two or more apps for messaging. Notably, Millennials are also 8% more likely than users 35 and older to use messaging apps for group conversations.

Listen Up

Millennials aren’t just connecting in more ways; they are consuming more content across more platforms. Digital music consumption, a topic examined in the report, is witnessing the most significant – and surprising shift.

You would imagine that digital consumption via Internet and apps is reducing Millennials’ appetite for traditional radio tune-in. However, Nielsen has found the opposite is true. The research pegs weekly reach of broadcast radio among Millennials at a whopping 93%. At the same time on-demand streaming is going strong. More than half (60%) of Millennials say they use two or more apps to stream music.

Interestingly, podcasts are also winning over Millennial audiences and a growing share of their attention. Nielsen reports 37% of Millennials listen to podcasts at least once a week, while 13% say they listen every day, compared with 5% of consumers 35 and older who tune in on a regular basis. (Little wonder media companies, including the Washington Post, are scrambling to turn readers into listeners with the help of compelling podcasts that mash up news, analysis and celebrity.)

More Content, More Consumption

The good news: Nielsen confirms the plethora of content offers and options “has actually inspired increased consumption” among Millennials. With so much digital content to choose from Millennials aren’t opting for one or the other; they are consuming all of the above.

The not-so-good-news is that more isn’t always better. “Millennials are an unfocused audience and they are less likely to stay loyal to specific media the way other generations are,” the report states. Millennials may be making more space in their lives for more digital media consumption, but this also increases competition for their attention.

Winning the loyalty of this demographic will be an uphill battle, and winners will be the companies that adapt their offer to the evolving media habits of multitasking Millennials, not seek to limit them.

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