Advertising To Millennials

According to a recently released whitepaper from comScore, the Millennial generation is viewed by marketers as one of the most valuable segments of the population, due to the powerful combination of the group’s massive size and strong purchasing power. Millennials are defined as individuals born between 1981 and 2000, and there are approximately 79 million Millennials in the U.S. This segment dwarfs the 48 million Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) and is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). The purchasing power of Millennials is estimated to be $170 billion per year.

A defining characteristic of Millennials is their comfort-level with new technologies. This is the first generation to grow up with computers in the home and in the classroom, not knowing a life without the Internet or cell phones. 93% of Millennials ages 18 to 34 are Internet users, compared to only slightly more than 40% of those age 55+.

Percent of Consumers Using the Internet by Age

Ages

% Using Internet

18-34

93%

35-54

88

55+

42

Source: comScore, January 2012

Findings from the previous studies have consistently shown that television ads are less effective among younger consumers than among older ones, as measured by lift in SOC. These results suggest that it is more difficult to persuade younger consumers with advertising messages than consumers from older generations. The 1999 study, which focused on Generation X, concluded that lower responsiveness to advertising among young consumers is at least in part a reflection of life-stage rather than generational factors.

Average Lift in Share of Choice by Age Group – Prior Studies 

 

Younger: age <30;  Middle-Aged: age: 30-49;  Older: age 50+ 

Younger: age <35;  Middle-Aged: age 35-54;  Older: age 55+ 

Younger: age <36;  Older: age 36+ 

 

1999 Study

1988 Study

1961 Study

Younger

7.3

10.5

8.5

Middle- Aged

10.0

13.4

na

Older

11.6

13.8

10.7

Source: comScore, January 2012

The 2011 study results display the familiar stair-step pattern seen in previous studies, with average ad effectiveness increasing with age.

Average Lift in Share of Choice by Generation – 2011 Study

Generation

Lift

Millennials

4.6

Generation X

5.3

Baby Boomers

6.4

Seniors

6.6

Source: comScore, January 2012

Advertising recall was evaluated across generational groups. Recall measures were collected after exposure to advertising creative in a veiled environment. Ad breakthrough for Millennials was substantially lower than the other generations. Not all that surprising, says the study,given the group’s reputation for having a short attention span and requiring attention-grabbing content. However, Millennials demonstrated a higher propensity than other generations to retain a lasting impression of an advertisement.

Average Related Recall Results by Age Group – 2011 Study

 

Immediate Recall

Delayed Recall

Millenials

43%

24%

GenerationX

50%

23%

BabyBoomers

54%

21%

Seniors

54%

18%

Source: comScore, January 2012

 When compared to Baby Boomers and Seniors, Millennials tend to be less interested and more difficult to connect with, capture attention, impress, convince and entertain. Millennials also appear to be more price-sensitive, with higher levels of “Brand Costs More” than they would expect to pay, perhaps due to lower disposable incomes. At the same time, they are no less likely to be “Willing to Pay More” for specific brands if need be, perhaps due to a sense of brand loyalty.

Average Diagnostic Results by Age Group – 2011 Study

 

Top 2 Box Average

 

Female Millennials

Female BabyBoomers

Female

Seniors

Ad Interesting

66

70

70

Best I've Seen

45

48

49

Commercial Believable

71

76

75

Convenient

76

82

80

It Grabbed My Attention

67

73

70

Likeability

57

62

63

Easy to Relate to

68

75

72

Easy to Understand

83

89

88

Irritating

16

10

8

A Lot in Common with Others

44

44

37

Brand Costs More

38

34

30

Willing to Pay More

42

43

40

Source: comScore, January 2012

The data suggests that digital advertising performs better in relative terms among Millennials than does television advertising. While Millennials do show the lowest average lift in SOC from digital ads among the generations, the difference is much smaller than seen for television.

Average Modeled Lift in Share of Choice by Generation – Digital

Generation

Lift

Millennials

6.0

Generation X

6.4

Baby Boomers

6.8

Seniors

6.4

Source: comScore, January 2012

Millennials’ comfort with technology and all things digital makes them relatively more responsive to digital advertising versus television. Conversely, Seniors may be responding poorly to digital ads due to a lack of understanding and comfort with this medium. The middle generations respond well to digital advertising, perhaps due to the need to stay professionally competitive, but unlike the case for television, they are not more responsive to digital advertising than Millennials, concludes the report.

Given these findings, says the report, what should marketers be doing to most effectively communicate with the Millennial generation?

  • What are key considerations when it comes to creative and creative messaging? 
  • How should the approach differ with Millennials versus other generations?

comScore research has shown that over half of a campaign’s impact on sales is due to creative strength. Additional comScore research has identified a variety of creative advertising elements that have a significant impact on an ad’s ability to build a brand and ultimately lift sales. This research has identified more than 200 creative elements that can have an impact on an ad’s lift in Share of Choice, while a sub-set of these elements, called the Validated Drivers, has been shown to have a significant impact.

For the television cases in the current study, correlations between each of the Validated Drivers and lift in Share of Choice were compared for Millennials and the older generations (Seniors and Baby Boomers). Across all of these content elements, there were no statistically significant differences in correlation levels for Millennials versus the older generations. This indicates that there is some level of consistency regardless of age in the key drivers of advertising creative that positively impacts sales.

Among the Validated Drivers are the core campaign drivers, which represent advertising content that gives a reason to prefer the featured brand and sets it apart from the competition.

Average Increase in Lift in Share of Choice among Millennials Due to Use of Core Campaign Drivers

Campaign Driiver

Increase in LIft

Brand Differentiation

1.3

Comparison

1.1

New Product/New Feature Information

0.9

Superiority Claim

0.8

Source: comScore, January 2012

 Among the other Validated Driver elements associated with higher Share of Choice scores for the general population, several also result in an average increase of about one-half point or more in lift in Share of Choice among Millennials.

Average Increase in Lift in Share of Choice among Millennials Due to Use of Selected Drivers

Selected Drivers

Increase in Lift

More Brand Name Mentions

0.5

Brand Name/Logo Shown Longer

0.8

Actual Product Shown Longer

0.8

Source: comScore, January 2012

 Other content elements were examined for differences in relationship to lift in Share of Choice for Millennials versus older generation groups. Three such elements stood out from the rest, with the presence of each found to be more favorable for Millennials.

Difference in Lift in Share of Choice Due to Content Elements: Millennials vs. Seniors

Content Element

Increase in LIft

Child/Infant/Animal/Animated Character

0.7

Product Benefits Main Message

0.8

Information on Results of Use

1.1

Source: comScore, January 2012

Given the importance of an engaged audience in amplifying advertising’s effectiveness, the study considered  engagement among viewers of 25 current television programs and 15 websites. On average, engagement was higher among Millennials than all other generations for both television programming and websites.

Increase in Engagement for Millennials versus Other Generations by Medium

 

Digital

Television

Generation X

6.2

1.6

Baby Boomers

22.2

10.3

Seniors

35.4

21.4

Source: comScore, January 2012

It appears that Millennials are highly engaged with the content that they choose to view. This is true for both television and digital. This engagement will amplify the effectiveness of advertising to Millennials, helping to boost advertising returns on investment among this key demographic, says the report.

The report concludes by noting that Millennials are defined in large measure by their use of digital technologies, and it is the digital world that appears to present marketers with some of the best opportunities to reach and persuade them. While Millennials follow a familiar pattern of younger generations being more difficult to persuade through television advertising, to some extent digital appears to break this pattern.

Suggestions, from the study analysts, for marketing to Millennials are included in the report as follows:

  • It appears that it is harder for advertising to achieve breakthrough and catch the attention of Millennials, who are notorious for multitasking and short attention spans, so creative may need to be tailored to draw Millennials into the story being told
  • At the same time, Millennials respond to a powerful and differentiating reason to buy as much as any other generation, with the same core drivers of impactful creative strongly relating to high ad effectiveness scores. The quality of creative is critical in terms of generating interest in the advertisement and crafting a persuasive message

It is important to note that only women were included in this research. Occasionally effectiveness for an ad differs by gender, says the report. Since women are the primary purchasers for most products, scores among 500,000 women across four generational groups were consistently used. The groups studied included Millennials (ages 16 – 29); Generation X (30 – 44); Baby Boomers (45 – 59); and Seniors (60+).

Please visit comScore to access the complete report, including more charts and graphs, in PDF format.

 

 

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