Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Empowered Millennials Matter. Period.

Hello My Friends,

Exciting things are afoot for 678 Partners and our logo is almost done!  We'll be putting it on this blog shortly.  This logo process has reinforced why market research is so important however quick/informal: some good feedback for our logo is that people are reading the 678 in 678 Partners as "six hundred seventy eight" so I'd like to clarify.  It should be "six seven eight"as it is a play on our June 7, 2008 wedding date.  This important nugget would have been missed and our logo would have gone in the wrong direction had we not had conversations with friends/colleagues and listened to their comments.

I'd like to talk to you further about conversations.  Specifically, the two way conversations we should be having with Millennials as they grow older and their buying power continues to expand.  As we discussed yesterday, Gen Xers will be the first group to break out of the recessionary shopping slump but it will be our Millennial friends who cement the longer term shopping recovery.  I'm still struck by the post I shared yesterday.  I'm sharing the same excerpt again because it's so well put, an important point for us to remember and really forms the basis for this post:

"I don't think we as a generation (millennials) expect advertisers or marketing campaigns to be authentic.  We're not insane.  I would venture to say, however, that what people mistake for "authenticity in marketing" is actually respect for one's audience.  This means an understanding of your audience, knowledge of their likes, dislikes, trends and interests.  This means ACTUALLY caring about what your audience cares about, not just finding something popular and creating a poor facsimile."

In other words, "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck" doesn't always fly because Millennials are a lot smarter than that.  Truly, the error seems to be that we have mistaken the addiction to technology or other distinctive Millennial characteristic to be some sort of fault.  The multiple gadgets may seem intimidating to us Luddites but the gadgets should be viewed as fact just like I have brown hair, am shorter than most, can't stand salmon, etc.  

This demand for respect and understanding is precisely why it is not surprising that they refuse to buy brands if they find the content or spokesperson objectionable (here).  It's precisely why they are taking matters more and more into their own hands and having conversations with each other directly and on their own terms.  Case in point: over the weekend, ABC's Good Morning America covered a growing phenomenon on YouTube called "haul videos" which are essentially the 21st century version of calling your BFF and telling her (or him) what it is you found at the mall that day for a steal.  A lot of these videos are made by teens and young women but don't let the age fool you.  They know what we don't:
  • Millennials are informed, are savvy and learn quickly.  Some are even developing partnership/compensation arrangements for their video journals.
  • Sharing is caring.  Generosity is a given - they share shopping tips, money saving tips and even makeup/styling tips.  It's the old "karma is a boomerang" thing.
  • They don't wait for us to figure it out - they've grown tired of waiting for us marketers to treat them as a viable group worthy of advertising/marketing dollar respect.
I've watched a few of these videos and think you should, too.  Yes, they're teenagers with all of their teenager-y ways and some of you may point out that you have a few of those at home.  What strikes me is that these young people have a voice and aren't afraid to use it.  The article shares some advice direct from the 16 and 21 year old vloggers which includes: having a personal style, encouraging versatility, not taking yourself seriously and no boasting.  If we remember the Pew Research I mentioned yesterday, we'll be able to see the direct linkages between this advice and that data.  Cool.

Here's the funny thing about this phenomenon...  Mainstream media covered it but in my view really missed what I think is the big point: Millennials are bypassing mainstream media and advertisers so they can have meaningful conversations with one another.  To refer back to the excerpt above, Millennials don't think mainstream media or marketers understand them (nor their likes) nor do they think that they are being communicated to in meaningful ways.  I'd like for you to see the accompanying video to the article.  You'll quickly see that the revenue story is what attracted ABC but it didn't grasp the root causes of why haul videos are popular.

The overall point?  Millennials matter.  And as they gain more spending power, they become Empowered Millennials.  The real question is when are we going to wake up and and start paying more serious attention to them?  Clearly, we ignore them or discount them at our peril as John McCain's team learned in 2008  I'd love to hear your feedback on this.  Please send me your thoughts!


Parissa Behnia

1 comment:

  1. Millennials will drive M-Commerce and how future generations will receive information as it relates to products and services.