Debate 2 - Do Millenials Want More Than Memes?
Disclaimer: YellowSeed does not promote drinking alcohol, it’s just an analogy. We suggest having ice-cream instead, it’s cheaper and tastier.
Two content marketers walked into a bar. As often happens in a bar, an age-old debate started. What kind of content do millennials really want to see out there?
Let’s take into consideration Pew Research Center’s definition of millennials as being the generation between 1981 to 1996.
Short-form vs Long-form
It’s commonly known that millennials have a short attention span. While some studies put it at about 12 seconds, there was that famous one that estimated it to be less than that of a goldfish at about 8 seconds. Millennials need messages that they can grasp in an instant, and messages that can be easily shared. Short-form content like memes, 15-second video clips, infographics and things that make for easy consumption should be the preferred way to go.
Except, that may not entirely be the case. There are simply way more options to choose from today, meaning millennials have the need to become more selective. And they have, according to a study published more recently by Prezi and Kelton Research. In fact, younger generations’ attention spans may even be improving. There’s a reason why long-form content like documentaries on Netflix and VICE and even 15-minute videos on Youtube hit a chord with millennials. Furthermore, blogs, expert forums, and news websites are a go-to for the young crowd before they make a purchase. A study found that about 1 in 3 millennials consult blogs for guidance with buying products. Long-form content gives millennials an immersive experience that they do not get from short-form. This kind of content also lends itself to trust-worthiness and authenticity which millennials look for when they’re choosing a brand.
Social Media vs Offline
Most companies know by today they need to be on social media to grab the average millennial’s attention. To reinforce the numbers, about 50% of millennials share content on their social channels on a daily basis according to Adobe’s 2019 Brand Content Survey. Having social media presence allows brands to engage their young customers on a consistent basis, and be a part of the social conversations happening online to tap into word-of-mouth networks.
However, millennials have also been exposed to a time before the rise of the Internet, and are influenced by factors other than social media when they learn about a brand’s identity. Companies can create experiences and events, apps outside of social media, and other forms of content that are unique and establish the sociability that the millennial seeks. Bacardi, for example, has been working on its modern and young image by creating experiential content offline with festivals like NH7 Weekender, Vivid Shuffle, music collaborations, and monthly restaurant hops with Food Talk India. In the case of Aditya Birla Health Insurance, the company has gone beyond social media by reaching out to customers with its fitness tracking app called Activ Health. It provides for sociability by allowing the user to find a walking group in their community.
Creating content separate of social media (and offline content in particular) isn’t important just for brand identity, but for purchase as well. Millennials look at both their digital and physical experience of what a brand offers to determine value. According to an article in Jing Daily, luxury purchases in China, for example, are still made in physical stores, although customers come to the store after having done research on the Internet and already have a purchase in mind. McKinsey estimates that about 80 percent of luxury purchases are digitally influenced. The offline experience of the customer at the store further accounts for choosing to stick with their decision, or opt for something else.
Cause marketing vs personal brand talk
Millennials appreciate brands that call out for social change - if done sensitively. Cause marketing has been on the rise in India with an increasing number of brands putting out content around women’s rights and more recently, content in favour of LGBTQ+ rights. Globally, there was Nike’s ‘Dream Crazier’ ad in February 2019 that celebrated sportswomen. It did supremely well across platforms - on Twitter alone, it went up to 31.6M total views and 655K engagements by the following month. Closer to home, we saw campaigns like Olay’s #FaceAnything and Bournvita’s #DontForgetYourself. Pride marketing is becoming more visible as well, with brands creating content supporting people of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, millennials are also quick to call out irresponsible cause marketing. That includes putting out socially relevant messages without actioning change - several brands were called out for not actually contributing to a charity or building better policies for workplace inclusivity. Then there are campaigns that end up being insensitive to the people they’re trying to support. It’s vital to tread this kind of marketing carefully, or not at all. Traditional brand talk, with an element of personalisation and honesty for the user, can be more effective than content that supports a cause ineffectively.
The Millenial’s Verdict
Take it from the millennials themselves - Millennials are quite social about the way they purchase! In a survey by Adobe, millennials seemed to place importance on content being informative. At the same time, the user experience of the content was an important factor. Pages that took too long to load led to 59% of users abandoning the brand’s content. So don’t be shy about keeping content long - but don’t add irrelevant information and put off your customers as well.
While content from social media and influencers found easy trust from 45% of millennials, there were also significant levels of trust in online news and content from family and friends. The generation also prefers personalised content - about 87% making a purchase if they saw content that was relevant but also respected their privacy.
In short, the right mix of content for the millennial is one with equal amounts of trustworthiness, shareability, and user-specific value. Memes may woo them, but so can immersive content served straight up!