Report: Publishers Should Focus On 'Transformists,' Not Millennials

Both publishers and marketers are chasing after millennial attention, but Jennifer Tonti, director of research at Insider Inc., said competing for this demographic isn’t effective: The real audience segment they should set their sights on are called 'Transformists.'

Insider Inc., the publisher of Insider and Business Insider, among other brands, partnered with Digitas to “try to get a sense of who our audience is,” Tonti said at MediaPost's Publishing Insider Summit on Tuesday.



Google Analytics and comScore data “was giving us some demographics but not cutting into the hearts and minds of what’s driving this audience and why they are so engaged with our content,” she said.

There are 83 million millennials, those between 22 and 37,  an “enormous group of people… with very different needs,” Tonti said.

“If brands speak in the exact same way [to millennials], this is not going to be an effective way of targeting.”

Insider Inc. and Digitas looked at 1,600 US "digital-forward news and information seekers" between the ages of 18-54, to find a target audience “based around mind-set - not a demographic.”

The report wanted to deduce how many people had the mind-set that publishers and marketers want, and how they could determine  what is important to them.

They deemed that group "The Transformists": 40 million people, two-thirds of whom are millennials, but also some from the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations.

Transformists are digitally native, the report found, as well as "passionate, ambitious and restless," meaning they are never satisfied and always striving to be better. “This attitude creates forward momentum in their lives,” Tonti said.

Transformists “see themselves as change agents, and are precisely the people that marketers had in mind all along, but that they were ascribing to millennials and millennials only. We see now that this is a mistake.”

Transformists are “voracious learners” and read two to three times more information sources than others. They are “deliberate doers” and are two times more likely to act on content they consume by sharing or making decisions based on that information.

They are “idealists,” and are two times more likely to volunteer.

This demo are brand loyal, too, and are more likely to buy a product if a friend recommends it or they read about it or see an ad for it in their favorite information source.

Transformists tend to have higher incomes and are well-educated. They are not coastal elites, the report found, but instead spread across the country, though they do gravitate to urban areas. They are also not "overly liberal." Transformists “research, go and buy, and turn around and influence others,” Tonti said.

These findings, she added, mean publishers should “offer quality content to inform and inspire,” and “be everywhere they are” to meet the hyper-digital audience on mobile and social.

Publishers should “find ways to help [Transformists] achieve their goals, indulge them in adventure, discovery and wonder,” as well as “demonstrate that your values align with theirs.”

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