Commentary

Digital, Discerning And Demanding, Millennials Are Forcing Better Creative

  • by June 7, 2016

The highly coveted millennials. The next wave of influencers. The ones who will define luxury, style, culture and even politics. No generation has a more sophisticated or developed sense of storytelling and film making. They’ve grown up with editing software at their fingertips, 1080p HD video cameras on their phones and high-production value everything. 

And they can sense a marketer that is trying too hard from a mile away. That word authenticity is overused for a reason: it matters. And as this population of consumers interacts with brands, they engage with the ones that are genuine. 

Millennials are quickly abandoning traditional media channels in favor of a multitude of online and social options. Traditional media viewing by older millennials — the ones with the buying power — has dropped by nearly 23% in five years and continues to decline roughly 7% a year, according to Nielsen's Q4 2015 Total Audience Report. 

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As media strategies become more fragmented and more digital, the need for compelling branded content is growing. And the brands, particularly those in the luxury world, that pay special respect to this discerning viewer will receive the same in return. Long-form content has become the bridge between brand level communications and “showroom” shopping, whatever that showroom looks like. It is the point along the continuum when buyers are seeking information, and looking for rational justification to make an emotional purchase. 

And for many companies courting the millennial age group, developing a strong brand online has moved from a peripheral part of a communication strategy to the central component that informs all the others. 

Edward Russo, a brand research consultant, has followed millennial media trends across the United States for the last five years. “These are tech-savvy consumers that want to be engaged with the brand through social media and content that is artful, and curated for their habits and lifestyle.” 

We need to give these buyers an immersive and visceral experience. And draw them into a story that is worth their two, three, even five minutes. We need to entertain, engage, enlighten. And in the process let the narrative be honest and meaningful. 

Luxury is cool. But to a lot of 27 year olds who are beginning to gain some traction and earning potential, egalitarianism is cool as well. So luxury must be defined on their terms. Craftsmanship, beauty, substance. Authenticity … not status.

This is why a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 240d that is made out of heavy steel and screams of a time when longevity mattered is sometimes more desirable than its sparkling new equivalent. And why a millennial buyer will drop $300 on a pair of chain-stitched, raw selvedge Tellason jeans. The fabric is made in Greensboro, N.C. The jeans are hand-cut and sewn in San Francisco. As real as it gets.

This is an awesome generation. They embrace the beautiful and emotional. Their standards are high, their attention span is short but their desire for new content voracious. A digital content strategy must be an ever-evolving and living organism that is fresh and constantly refreshed. For lovers of great film and brands of great substance, there has never been a better opportunity or a more engaged customer.

1 comment about "Digital, Discerning And Demanding, Millennials Are Forcing Better Creative".
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  1. Michael Farmer from Farmer & Company LLC, June 8, 2016 at 1:58 p.m.

    Scott Zacaroli is undoubtedly right about the obsession of advertisers with "Millennials" -- no quibbles at all about his conclusions.
    In practice, though, the term "Millennial" is used much too broadly and seems always to refer to the uppermost economic segment of those born between 1980 and 2000. There are many types of Millennials -- it is also the most ethnically diverse segment of the US population. It is highly segmented by education and wealth, as well.  I sit on the board of a major community college in Brooklyn, with 17,000 students, most of whom are Millennials, and I doubt if a single one of them would ever consider dropping $300 on a pair of chain-stiched, raw selvedge Tellason jeans. 70% of our students come from families with less than $40,000 in income per year. The student body represents 142 countries and 73 languages. Most of them are the first in their families to attend college. All they want is a chance to grab a piece of the American Dream. Their aspirations, in contrast to the materialistic aspirations of their upper class Millennial brethern, are worthy of our support and encouragement. America, and Brooklyn in particular, has always been a beacon representing hope for those who immigrate here in pursuit of a better life.

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