Convenience, Customization, Ease Of Sharing
Relax. It's not as difficult as it seems to prioritize your marketing efforts to reach the schizophrenic-like attention Millennials seem to direct everywhere and nowhere all at once.
Through recent Magid Generational Strategies research on Millennial media behaviors, and the illumination that comes with tracking that data back five years, it's apparent that three things shape relevancy for Millennials: convenience, customization and ease of sharing.
Convenience Media and technology are important to Millennials, but they want it to fit around their lives. They have little interest and patience in the reverse -- making their life fit around the media that interests them. For example, Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers to watch TV shows online. While this strikes fear into the hearts of cable operators everywhere and brings to mind the dreaded word "cord-cutting," last year's Magid Media Futures study suggests otherwise. A typical Millennial's motivation to watch a TV show online has less to do with the fact that it is free, but more with the convenience of watching exactly when he/she wants, whereas Boomers and Xers are more driven by cost savings.
Other media behaviors Millennials do more than older generations, like watching TV and video on their phones, watching movies online and listening to podcasts, are also all about convenience. It's not that Millennials aren't watching TV on a TV or want to watch movies at home or in a theatre, they are attracted to options that let them do those things whenever they want.
Customization Gen Yers have become accustomed to being lumped all together in generational stereotypes, but they know differently. They know they are each unique and, in fact, celebrate and encourage individuality. They were the first generation of kids to enjoy entire television stations devoted to them (Nickelodeon launched in 1979 and Disney Channel in 1983). Later they didn't have to choose one of six pre-created players for their video games, they got to make their own avatars. Millennials are used to customization.
The way Millennials listen to music reflects that expectation for customization. Millennials listen to the most music not on the radio (e.g., personal MP3 players and streaming services). Obviously, they choose music on their own iPod, but they like creating custom stations on Pandora or listening to exactly the song they want when they want on services like GrooveShark or the newly released Spotify.
Ease of Sharing When it comes down to it, the wild popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter among Millennials boils down to one thing -- they make it easy to share with your personal network. Personal networks, a/k/a friends and family, are incredibly important to Millennials. Their parents instilled the importance of friends through formal play dates and sessions at Gymboree. It's what Millennials have always known. They carried that cohort perspective into adulthood and now actively look for ways to share ideas and tips, as well as the details of their lives, with the people they care about. Products and services that enable easy sharing will bode well with Millennials.