Why businesses should get to grips with millennials online in 2016

Millennials have received a lot of bad press. We’ve been led to believe they are ‘lazy’, ‘apathetic’, ‘social media obsessed’ and ‘narcissistic’…they are the ‘selfie’ generation after all! Consequently, brands and businesses have stumbled over how to reach out to them through traditional marketing approaches, and many have branded them impossible to target and define. But millennials, who represent the 18 to 33 age group, now make up almost a quarter (22%) of the UK population, and last year they became the largest generation in the workforce, claiming their place in the global economy. By 2017, millennials will have the most spending power of any generation. So without doubt, 2016 is the year businesses really must get to grips with this group of individuals.

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The Economist, working with Bloom Worldwide, recently sought to build a global picture of the millennial mentality. It surveyed 90,000 individuals across four continents, to find out what it could about their media consumption habits particularly. What the study uncovered was unexpected. Contrary to popular opinion, it found this subset of the population to be active, interested and entrepreneurial. Nick Blunden, global managing director of The Economist, has titled this generation “Gen-Narrators”. In a recent interview with Adweek, he explained, “they curate, they consume and they create. And that’s what makes them influencers…They don’t just take on broad information, they DJ with it. They remix it and send it out.” “There is this incredibly powerful influencer generation,” he said. “And if you engage with them in the right away, and you create content for them but you accept that they’re going to want to customise, curate and remix that content and make it their own and pass it on, then that’s a really interesting opportunity.” Here’s what the study also found out about ‘gen-narrators’, and what brands and businesses should bear in mind when planning their marketing strategies for 2016…

  • Gen-narrators are intelligent storytellers. They hold a specific type of influence, and are seen as authorities and authors within a particular subject area or consumer field
  • They spend over an hour a day reading online news media, which is more than any other generation group, and they consistently comment on news stories
  • They also consume more print media, and say they turn to it for facts. 90% of their ‘most trusted online sources’ are traditional
  • More than a third (36%) say the internet is important for sharing content
  • Two-thirds value the internet for its ability to change opinion, and they use the internet and social media to debate intelligently
  • 90% regularly post opinions about products or services online
  • 43% of gen-narrators are more likely to promote a brand online, for free, simply because they love it, which represents the biggest generation willing to do so

So in 2016, brands and businesses should be harnessing the influence of gen-narrators by helping them to build their authority. Content needs to become a two-way stream, which is a mindset change for many marketers. It involves giving something back to the millennial generation, by engaging with the content they’ve curated and helping to share their opinions online. In this way, it will be quid pro quo, and millennials will have a reason to advocate a particular brand. As we move into 2016, businesses should recognise that influence is no longer held by a select few. Gen-narrators are increasingly the people to be working with!  

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