By 2030, all of the nation’s population growth will come from the multicultural millennials of today, according to Nielsen’s recent report, “The Multicultural Edge.” These media-savvy, socially empowered “super consumers” are the imperative for both brands and publishers to understand. But where are brands supposed to invest their time and money to reach this highly influential and sometimes fickle audience?
In this fast-paced world where the hottest social network can suddenly lose traction and be replaced by an app that launched last week (Adobe nailed it with their “Woo Woo” ad last year), it can be difficult for media companies and brands to keep up. Millennials are part of a digital-first generation that prioritizes viewing content on smartphones through visually appealing new social networks. Brands need to move at the speed of digital if they’re going to keep up with this audience. The key is to understand how this group consumes content and how their influence travels across channels through multiple platforms, and then develop native stories of interest for each.
As Gary Vaynerchuk, the founder of VaynerMedia, recently said in an interview with AdAge, "My point-of-view is the disproportionate value of moving fast on new platforms, the first year or two, where you're getting disproportionate customer acquisition, disproportionate awareness, you're one of the new players, will always trump being wrong." Brands and publishers need to experiment and invest in multiple platforms in order to reach the audiences they are looking to speak to, and even more so when reaching the coveted 18-34-year-old audience. While there is an inherent gamble in this cross-platform approach—one platform that exists today may disappear tomorrow—the benefits of building an audience wherever they are outweigh the risks. So where are they spending the most time consuming content?
As cross-platform consumers, 65% of millennials use a second screen when watching video and 90% watch streaming media daily. Traditional strategies to reach this audience are ineffective. It’s not that this group has stopped watching television or even listening to radio, but their content consumption habits have become fragmented across all of the devices, platforms and channels that are available. Long-form linear content, for example is still being consumed, but instead of being relegated just to TV, consumption patterns are being diversified across new OTT platforms and SVODs like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. The point is, consumers will watch content from sources they trust—people, brands, and publishers—but because they have more options for where they can access it, it’s up to the content creators more than ever to go to them.
So when creating content, creatives have to think with these individual pieces in mind, and not just repurpose and shuffle content from one platform to another. Take risks and broadcast on the platforms they’re on and develop strategies for each. For example, a recent Pew Research study found that 53% of millennials in the U.S. use Instagram. Just a few years ago, Facebook was the dominant platform for this generation.
Millennials are also proving to be one of the most culturally diverse generations—Nielsen found that 92% of the total growth in U.S. population from 2000 to 2014 came from multicultural groups. However, they’re also connected by a number of shared values and a passion for digital engagement. According to comScore, among Hispanic millennials, 42% access the Internet only through their mobile devices. This means that content creators need to prioritize the small screen, which opens doors for interactivity and new formats. Vertical video, for example, might not be ideal for your television screen, but it’s the more natural way to consume media on a mobile device.
Brands must dive in with millennials and be a part of their digital existence wherever they are. Content consumption trends will always be fluid and you may not always be able to put hard metrics against the effort, but one thing is for certain, nobody ever won anything sitting on the sidelines watching their competitors own an emerging platform as a communication channel. Another certainty is that once something takes off, you can’t catch up and/or pretend like you were there all along. So dive in wherever your audience is, experiment with content, and get comfortable with any new platform your audience is shifting to, because you never know when it’ll become the place to be.