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In an effort to provide the best and most relevant advice to our clients as well as to foster thought-provoking discussion in our blog, we are constantly “on the hunt” for new content that may be helpful to media groups as they seek to optimize their holdings.  One such reading, focused on marketing to millennials, comes from a recent issue of The Economist:

 

https://www.economist.com/business/2018/10/06/established-firms-try-dancing-to-a-millennial-tune

 

Millennials, sometimes referred to as Generation Y, were born roughly between 1980 and 1995, making them anywhere from aged 23 to 38.  Millennials came of age in the boom times of the 90s and have had constant access to technology (computers, cell phones) throughout their youth.  Millennials, the largest generational group in the U.S., have come of age during countless advancements in technology and media, making marketing to them a particularly unique challenge.

 

What’s caught our attention in this article, and what we think has ramifications on our industry, is the following: “Companies are finding that three broad approaches do succeed when trying to sell to [millennials]: transparency, experiences (over things) and flexibility.”  We’d urge you to evaluate how these three concepts impact your tactical approach to programming, marketing, and your digital strategy.   

 

For us, particularly given the amount of exposure we’ve had over the years to direct consumer research, the notion of transparency can best be applied to our industry’s approach to advertising.  As we’ve covered in a previous post to this blog (http://globalmediarcp.com/news/radio-its-time-make-change-our-approach-ads), the data has been conclusive in asserting that playing “too many commercials” is a major justification as to why a listener changes the station or stops listening.  Using messages like “time to pay the bills,” “back to the music you want in 60/30 seconds,” and “just one more quick ad…sorry, our morning show wants a raise” before and during spot breaks seems like smart tactics in trying to be as transparent as possible to a listener, especially a millennial one that may find this kind of approach to have more relevancy and humility.  This philosophy of transparency should also impact how we approach live mentions, an area where our industry continues to increase its emphasis. 

 

In terms of the value that millennials place on experiences over things, we should be leveraging this finding and applying it to how we approach promotions and contesting.  In our work with clients, we’ve maintained that we should be giving away things that listeners/viewers cannot (or would struggle to) buy on their own.  The opportunity to meet and interact with an artist, an all-expenses paid trip to see the summer’s hottest festivals, the chance to go bungie jumping with the crew from the morning show all seem like great ways to attract the attention of these elusive millennial consumers. 

 

Flexibility should be paramount in your digital strategy.  Of course, time-shifted programming has had an enormous impact on the television industry, as millennials are way more likely to watch time-shifted than live video.  For those of us in the radio industry, we are also seeing a lot of growth in time-shifted programming, especially when when we look at metrics like the increase in the sale and usage of smart speakers and the percentage of people who are consuming podcasts.  We tend to regard a company like the US’ National Public Radio/NPR as engaging in “best practices” when it comes to time-shifted programming (https://www.npr.org/).  NPR, arguably the best radio publisher in the digital space, is constantly directing listeners to engage with its website and app to learn more about topics and go in greater depth.  NPR realized that to attract younger listeners, it had to think less about broadcasting and more about delivering content to smartphones, giving its listeners the flexibility to listen to content wherever and whenever they wanted. 

 

While the article we are referencing in this blog (copied below, by the way) concentrated on marketing to millennials, we frankly view these three concepts of transparency, experiences (over things), and flexibility to be universal, ones that should factor into your approach to programming, marketing, and digital regardless of your target audience. 

 

Established firms try dancing to a millennial tune

 

OLDER people are not the only ones to try too hard to be hip and youthful. Long-established firms can, too. Just look at Procter & Gamble (P&G), one of the world’s largest consumer-goods firms, which this year applied to America’s federal patent office to trademark LOL, NBD, WTF and FML, abbreviations commonly used in text messages and social media. If it succeeds, the 181-year-old firm plans to use the phrases to market soap, cleaners and air fresheners to young buyers. Its move is the intellectual-property equivalent of Dad dancing. But it is a sign of large firms’ eagerness to woo millennial consumers.

 

To many firms they are a mystery. KPMG, a consultancy, reckons nearly half do not know how millennials—typically defined as those born between 1980 and 2000—differ from their older counterparts. That may be because such differences are overblown. According to Ipsos-MORI, a pollster, millennials are “the most carelessly described group we have ever looked at”. Many claims about them are simplified or wrong. It is often said, for example, that they ignore conventional ads; in fact they are heavily influenced by marketing.

 

Given such misconceptions, it is little wonder that firms sometimes get it wrong. In February, MillerCoors, an American brewer, released Two Hats, a light fruit-flavoured brew the beer-maker said would suit millennials’ tastes and budgets (tagline: “Good, cheap beer. Wait, what?”). Consumers just waited; the beer was pulled from shelves after six months. But some stereotypes about millennials have roots in reality. Companies are finding that three broad approaches do succeed when trying to sell to them: transparency, experiences (over things) and flexibility.

 

On the first of these, transparency, younger brands have led the way. In clothing, one example is Everlane, an online clothing manufacturer based in San Francisco. It discloses the conditions under which each and every garment is made and how much profit it generates as part of its philosophy of “radical transparency”.

 

Some large companies have made dramatic changes. ConAgra, an American food giant, has simplified its recipes and eliminated all artificial ingredients from many of its snacks and ready meals. After years of falling sales, it is growing again; millennials now account for 80% of its customer growth. “Bringing in these folks has been absolutely critical to growing the brands,” says Bob Nolan, ConAgra’s senior vice-president of insights and analytics.

 

Millennials’ appreciation of experiences over “stuff” is also real. Online platforms such as Airbnb have capitalised on youngsters’ taste for splurging on holidays, dinners and other Instagrammable activities, but so too have some older bricks-and-mortar firms. In 2016 JPMorgan Chase, a bank, launched Sapphire Reserve, a premium credit card that offers generous rewards for spending on travel and dining. Touted as “a card for accumulating experiences”, the $450-a-year product has been a hit with well-off millennials, who represent more than half of cardholders.

 

Younger consumers also have more debt, fewer assets and less job security than previous generations. In this regard, flexibility matters. Ally Bank, a subsidiary of Ally Financial, the former financial wing of General Motors, for example, does not charge its current-account customers any maintenance fees or require them to hold minimum balances. Such features have earned it the loyalty of millennials.

 

Business models are being revamped to serve commitment-phobic millennials. Big carmakers, including GM, Volvo and BMW, offer subscription services for their cars, offering access to new vehicles without lengthy financial obligations.

 

Yet many firms still have too homogeneous a view of millennials, says Laura Beaudin, a partner at Bain & Company, a consultancy. “If you want to resonate with a group that prides itself on diversity, having a one-size-fits all solution does not make sense,” she says. Some firms do embrace customers’ individuality—in May, Gucci, an Italian fashion house, introduced customised versions of a popular tote bag and pair of sneakers as part of a campaign called Gucci DIY. Gucci reportedly maintains a cadre of under-30 staffers to advise its boss. Expect more companies of a certain age to hark back to youth.