If you’ve done reading on the internet over the past five years, you’ve definitely come across articles about ‘The Millennial Generation.’ If you’ve managed to escape the term, here’s a definition: The millennial generation is anyone born between 1980 and 1994, and these 20-35 year olds have recently become America’s largest generation, overtaking baby boomers and generation X.
Why do they matter?
The growth of technology and channels of communication, the change in health, lifestyle, environment and economic factors have all made the millennial generation what they are today.
What Millennials do in their adult years and their interactions with technology, society and politics will frame a lot of our world’s discourses, narratives and industries for the next few decades, especially since many of them might live to be over a hundred years old.
Online Publishers’ Demographics are Changing
For publishers this means a new demographic that is more tech savvy and content hungry. The millennial generation has seen the rise of content from radios and television to the internet, social media and are entrenched in these channels, switching between them seamlessly. Publishers now need to rethink the way they invest in technology, the content formats, mediums, strategies and revenue models to cater to a new generation of consumers.
How Publishers can Engage the Millennial Generation
Every generation has certain characteristics that are shaped by the social and economic situations that surround them. The millennial generation too have characteristics defined by how America and the world have changed over the past three decades.
The Age of Individualism
Millennials have often been called ‘individualistic’ and this retreat from community life is not so much about getting in touch with one’s chakras and inner self than breaking free from the framework of religion, work and family life to explore and escape into the world of technology. As an article by Wired on embracing surveillance puts it,
“We’ve extended our bodies and minds with tools and hardware. We are now expanding our self by inhabiting virtual spaces, linking up to billions of other minds, and trillions of other mechanical intelligences. We are wider than we were, and as we offload our memories to infinite machines, deeper in some ways.”
Publishers need to follow this transition into the virtual world more closely to identify the right channels to speak to this generation. Omni channel strategies and optimization are essential to have any impact in a world where attention spans are also steadily dropping.
As the largest generation, millennials also have the largest spending power offline and in the digital world. They are expected to spend close to $200 billion in their lifetimes and are also more prone to skipping ads and reading content only if they trust the brand producing the content. The millennial generation spends a majority of not just their money, but also their time on web and mobile devices.
Publishers need to optimize consistently for new formats and emerging devices like mobile, tablets and digital readers as part of their growth strategies and appeal to millennials to spend on content, or publishing as a money making industry will pass to the few that stay ahead of the game.
Driven by Causes
Millennials are a diverse generation in the United States, with over 43% being non-white Their diversity motivates them to participate and believe in more causes, inspired by the idea of a more socially just world. In terms of the brands they engage with, 91% of the millennial generation would switch brands to one associated with a cause.
Publishers need to stand with the right causes themselves and get creative enough to draw readership and engagement through these causes. A company like Boomtrain can help publishers understand who their most engaged users are and share relevant, personalized content them that they relate to.
Struggle with Debt
In spite of having spending power like never before, one in three members of the millennial generation has a source of long-term debt like a student loan, credit card or mortgage. With this debt comes a need to work longer hours and additional stress from needing to support parents or live with parents to make ends meet. Publishers need to prove to this new generation that they can be trusted and invested in also because millennials inspire new design and technology and convey their discoveries to older generations.
Publishers need to move fast to keep up with the millennials, but the right combination of trustworthiness, brand appeal and social responsibility can build loyal millennial audiences that keep coming back for more.