Marketing and media usage among U.S. Millennials

Many Millennials are already influencers on social media, active users and buyers of the latest technology and constantly driving up profits across key sectors in the media industry, however with the generation's preference for digital media, it was inevitable that traditional platforms would fall behind. Looking to the future as Millennials grow older and give way to those behind them, it will be interesting to see whether or not traditional forms of media will make a resurgence, as vinyl records have done in recent years (a format also popular among younger generations).

Millennials have increasingly been focused on by the media and advertising industries, and the hype around the generation’s spending habits is not exaggerated. As the Millennial generation moves into adulthood, they are quickly becoming the world’s most active consumers. As with all generations, there are certain stereotypes regarding Millennials – that they are technologically savvy, that they focus on being mobile, they value entertainment, and they guard their personal time and space. Many studies seem to confirm these observations. Media and device use among Millennials clearly shows that the generation is no stranger to technology: in 2016, Millennials spent over 40 hours weekly watching TV and over six hours using internet on a PC. Additionally, studies of Millennials tend to show an increasing shift to mobile devices as they spent over 14 hours per week using apps or the internet on a smartphone.

Being the generation that has grown up alongside the internet and various other major technological advancements, many Millennials have adopted technology into nearly every aspect of their daily lives. They are one of the first generations that heavily values on-demand access to their media and entertainment. Because of this, many traditional methods of media consumption are in decline as younger generations move to streaming or on-demand alternatives. As evidence of this, average weekly time spent watching live TV among 18 to 24 year olds has decreased from 17.3 hours to just 9.5 between 2014 and 2018. They are listening to significantly more on-the-go online radio than previous generations, reading less print news, and streaming or downloading more music. Even the seemingly stable gaming industry has been shaken up by changing consumer demand. Virtual and Augmented reality consoles are becoming very popular among Millennial gamers, and nearly 42 percent of all eSports fans come from this generation. It isn’t just a case of technology advancing while the major companies stay at the top; around twice as many Millennials recognize the Netflix brand than those of traditional TV giants like ABS, CBS, and NBC.

With all of these changes in consumer demand, advertising and media companies alike are all asking the same thing: “How do we get the attention of this new generation of consumer?” Luckily for them, the presence of this generation online allows ads to be more targeted towards specific, likely interested individuals. Around 57 percent of Millennials say that online advertising has become more relevant for their wants and needs over the past few years. The vast majority of young adult consumers seem indifferent to the fact that artificial intelligence is being used to specifically target consumers with certain advertisements. Advertising is becoming more important as the majority of Millennials consider themselves to be brand conscious consumers and state that they stick with brands that they like.

With print media use in sharp decline along with traditional live TV, the ways in which people follow the news are also changing. The leading source for news among young adults has become social media, with local and cable TV news reaching far fewer young adults than in previous generations. Around 36 percent of Millennials get their news entirely from digital sources. The news companies that have managed to stay relevant among the younger generations are ones that have incorporated a strong online presence through digital channels, such as websites, online forums and podcasts. For brands, it is important to maintain an awareness of how internet-savvy Millennials have become, and indeed how reliant this generation is on digital media. Only by doing so will each company capture the attention of Millennials and get their slice of the generation's spend, and a solid, well-planned online presence is just one of the ways brands can do this.

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