Media Magazine

Millennials: Perhaps They Are More Like Us Than We Think

Posted on the 22 May 2015 by Themarioblog @garciainteract
This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. Because this is the Memorial Day Weekend in the United States, the next blog post will be Tuesday, May 26
Millennials: perhaps they are more like us than we thinkMillennials: perhaps they are more like us than we think

Count me among those who truly care to know more about Millennials.  That is why this Editor & Publisher piece.  In addition, I have spent a full semester teaching a room full of Millennials at Columbia University's School of Journalism.

Misconceptions and generalizations abound about Millennials, of course, especially when it comes to how they consume information. About the most common Millennial myths: they consume small bites of information from a variety of sources, they don't like to pay for information, and they are hooked on video and inseparable from social media.

All of the above are nothing more than speculation and stereotyping (and in some cases only partly true), so let's see what we learn from the E & P piece:

--The article is written by Chandler Fleming, a Millennial himself! That means that he is one of about 80 million individuals born between 1980 and 2000 .

What are the key revelations about Millennials or me?

--They like radio: "Arbitron data suggests that millennials are heightening their radio use while other generations are decreasing".

--They engage with traditional media (somewhat)--"Scarborough Research has uncovered that more than half of the millennial population polled (about 57 percent of 200,000 participants) read either an online or print news subscription over a week period."

"Although millennial readership does exist, it’s nowhere near as frequent as older generations when it comes to heavy reading. Yet, this is not to say that we have abandoned print news completely. The New York Times maintains that one out of 10 of its print subscribers are between the ages of 18 and 24."

--They like reading: This is something I have always suspected because I see it with my students.

Contrary to popular belief, not all of us prefer videos, photos and GIFs in our digital news. Interestingly enough, many millennials like our online news to resemble print media. We want clean, efficient reading that provides the information we seek without having to scroll past images and pause automatic videos. Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we don’t know how to read. 

--They are likely (sort of) to pay for information:  I imagine that it depends on the information offered, how essential it is and how it affects their lives. But this is the most often asked question at workshops and seminars.  In fact, I was completing a digital presentation in an Asian country recently, when the first question was: Dr. Mario, how do we make those Millennials pay for what they consume in our platform?

Chandler, the Millennial writer, sounds convincing when he cites the economic hardship that Millennials have grown up with as a reason for their unwillingness to pay up for subscriptions.

Not only have we inherited an economic situation likely to cause many more years of struggling, but we have to accept the reality of student loans forever looming over us for a degree we desperately need in the hope that we can find a decent job.

Pity party aside, millennials actually aren’t as cheap as people seem to think we are. In an article for Nieman Lab, media analyst Ken Doctor projects that millennials will “spend $200 billion annually by 2017 (and $10 trillion in their lifetime) in the U.S. alone.” 

-They respect and believe in traditional media-- It is not all Facebook, Instagram and Tweeter for the Millennial set, contrary to popular belief.

According to a Nielsen study of media reliability, about 60 percent of millennials consider their local newspapers and corresponding websites “trustworthy,” while only 43 percent answered the same of social media sites. So don’t worry, even though we log countless hours on those little apps, most of us still believe newspapers to be more credible.

This perceived addiction to social media is one of the most prominent stereotypes about millennials.

-They like more than just bite size news offerings-- Another myth and one I am happy to debunk here.  Like the rest of us, Millennials engage in at a glance (lean forward) moments, but also allow for the more in-depth lean back experience.

Yes, we may want things fast, but that doesn’t mean we’ll take whatever we find first. In reality, we don’t just want the information; we want the right information. A study by YPulse reveals that two-thirds of millennials would prefer to be the last to know something as long as the information was correct. Being the last person to know? Quite a healthy display of patience I think. 

There is much more in this readable piece which could be summarized as Confessions of a Millennial Media Consumer. I am happy to see that my own observations of this most controversial generation are on target. We have a smart, media-savvy, information-obsessed group that is the future and we must learn as much about them as possible as we go into product development.

I am particularly interested in the behavior of Millennials with their smartwatches and I venture to say that there is probably very little difference in the way they will consume news on the Apple Watch, for example, as the way my generation of baby boomers does.  Would love to hear from Millennials reading the blog to share their experiences.

TheMarioBlog post # 1757
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