Today’s post originally began as a response to a colleague’s request. Sidneyeve Matrix commented on my previous blog post suggesting my “observation about ‘the uncanny ability of Millennials to absorb’ deserves a separate post,” and that she would like to see my analysis on this behavioural trend. And though I myself replied that the posted would be finished yesterday, after I began writing, a whole can-of-worms seemingly opened up. So enjoy!
We’ve all heard about the many characteristics that make the Millennials something of a unique bunch. From their psychological make-up to their technologically advanced environment and web-savvyness, to say the world has never seen a generation like this would almost be an understatement.
The course of visible change that has occurred in this decade compared to the last is extraordinary. And we’ve already become highly adapted to these evolutions and advances within our daily environments. Though there might be a few arguable similarities, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that there are clear differences in the way members of Gen-Y have grown up and are continuing to grow up.
The Last 5 Years or So…
The world we see today is drastically different from that of even just 5 years ago. Well, let me rephrase that. The Millennial’s world is drastically different. How could it not be? Many aspects of daily Millennial life have never been daily aspects of life before. From how Millennials interact with media, to their social media life, understanding how they value brands, and understanding their personal extension and fascination with mobile devices, it’s absolutely amazing to see that all this has happened over the last 5 years or so.
But once we take a step forward, these worldly changes themselves are already in the midst of change. Mobile devices are moving away from cell and feature phones to a world of smart phones, pads and tablets. I’ve already read and seen dialogue for “super phones” amongst current smart phone makers.
Social media fatigue and our constant want for communication has pushed our notions of “sharing” to notions of “connecting”. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll continue to share but we’ll be more concerned about connecting and communicating.
And how could we almost forget about how much more strategy is necessary for marketing to Millennials, instances of un-sponsored Millennials seemingly promoting brands by themselves, more Gen-Y involvement in product and brand success, and how they’re shifting the retail environment.
With the world changing around them, the Millennials have reacted and adapted. And they will continue to constantly react and adapt. But will you be able to match them?
Sharing, Connecting and… Absorbing?
There is no denying Millennials go online and frequent social networking sites. 78% of those aged 18-34 use social media. Equally mobile habits have also increased greatly. And rather than going into this, I implore you view this list of Millennial facts, which provide great online, social and mobile insights. Along with this, there is a series of continuing and growing statistical insights that shed light into this generation.
Millennials are avid YouTubers. While 13-17 year-olds represent 21%, 18-34 year-olds represent 36% of YouTube’s viewing audience, combining for a total of 57%. Of which, they had a significant viewing impact to the over 5.7 billion videos were streamed in the US just this past June.
Further, live streaming video has grown a significant 600% over the last year, with YouTube and Hulu increasing 68% and 75% respectively. And though live streaming itself still represents a small audience compared to others, a year-over-year gain such as this shouldn’t be overlooked. Equally, live streaming sites are 72% more likely to deliver to 18-34 males, who also represent about 30% of the total live streaming video audience.
Additionally, online video shouldn’t be mistaken for traditional TV and video content. With that being said, 41% of 18-34 year-olds watch live TV. With DVDs representing 15%, DVR at 12% and streaming video, via Netflix type sites, is at 7%. With 29% of those aged under 25 watching all or most of their TV on the web.
While all this is occurring, a full 15% of teens aged 12-17 and 18% of those aged 18-24 send over 200 text messages a day, which is about 6000 a month. Not to mention, the amount of emails, social media messages and the BlackBerry BBM use that might be occurring, amongst other forms of communication. And though 200 texts seems excessive, 29% of those same teens send over 100 text messages a day.
Call all this what you like. Sharing, connecting, or viewing, it can’t be denied Millennials are absorbing everything in their path. We have the executive decision to choose what we like. 5 to 10 years ago many of these numbers and aspects didn’t exist. And though they may have been using all this in some form then, the distinguishing fact here is that even though traditional outlets may have decreased they haven’t decreased to such a extent that everything else has been replaced with some new alternative. Rather, many of those levels still remain high while Millennials absorption of new-age technologies have been compounded on top.
In the midst of writing my last blog post, I came across a Millennial theory that “rather than a sense of forward expansion, we’re seeing re-absorption and re-emergence of times past.” The impact of Millennial absorption is due the fact that Millennials are staying up to pace with everything that is being offered to them. As a result, Millennials themselves have reverted to absorbing many other aspects of what is currently available to them.
Even then new isn’t necessarily good enough. It’s the reason many of us watch classic sitcoms and re-runs. Or we simply watch an older DVD. Or spend our time online. Or download something. Or text. Or combine it all in one form or another. We do more while doing more. We are everywhere but we can’t be found. I can imagine how marketers, advertisers and brands must feel. At any given time, we can be online, watching TV and/or using our smart phones but you can’t reach us. Frustrating, isn’t it? There has been no greater time than now to have and execute the abilities of control and choice.
What’s most fascinating about all of this is the notion that all our sharing, connecting and viewing can actually be based on the premise of absorbing information. The Millennials have an uncanny ability to absorb. And much of what we do is done for the purpose of other individuals absorbing our information while we at same moment absorb what others have provided us. It’s a very cyclical and branched methodology. We do things to evoke a response, big or small. It’s the reason why we strategically share online. It’s the purpose behind everything we do. Why tweet? Why update Facebook? We all want people to see what we put up. Why bother otherwise? Why text if no one will text back?
But how much can we take? Like sponges, can we only absorb a certain amount of information? Will we ultimately over-flow and drown ourselves in content? Recent research shows our current lifestyle is changing our neurological processing patterns. So does that mean our minds will evenutally burn-out? Or continue to adapt and evolve? Call it a sense of higher sophistication, growing intelligence, need for attention, curiosity for the unknown or whatever else you like. One thing is for certain, as long as there is an urge, a need and a want for absorbing information, Millennials will continue to do what they do best. The question is, will you be able to keep up with them?