Is attention the new currency of the millennial generation?
Can it be true that today’s millennial generation has the attention span of a goldfish?
If you Google the word “millennial” you’ll find articles, blog posts, and studies that leave one overarching impression: This massive class of 20 and 30-somethings is narcissistic, entitled and struggle with the concept of concentration. Is it fair or even logical to group together 75.4 million people and attribute personality characteristics and behaviours? Perhaps not. However, with extensive research into the differences between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y, it is possible to see patterns. The world has changed an indescribable amount in the last twenty years; it would be illogical to assume people and the way they take in information wouldn’t evolve in equally diverse and fascinating ways.
Changes in Messaging
Having grown up in an era of rapid change, progression and innovation the average millennial is continuously bombarded on a monumental scale. 23% of the population in the UK is purely made up of this age group who spend nearly all of their time online and connected.
The American Press Institute conducted research of similar merit and found their results showed 90% of generation Y are online and connected much of their lives. Nearly half of millennial survey respondents are said to be “super-checkers,” which is defined by someone who looks at their phones more than 50 times per day. This is a group of people who seem compelled to jump on any possible new piece of information as fast as possible. With 81% of millennials preferring tasks that last five minutes or less, it’s crucial that the right information reaches them on the first try. This digital phenomenon has now become an arena where every company in the world goes to battle- what is the prize? Attention.
The Delvv Mobile Overload Survey found that 84% of respondents consider their smartphone to be an integral part of their life. As smartphones play such a fundamental part of day to day life it is unsurprising that the other elements that come hand in hand with smartphone use have huge impacts. Constant connectivity, unlimited access, 24/7 information has one monumental effect.
Millennials are desensitised, disengaged and disinterested due to such large volumes of poorly targeted information. 90% of this younger group fight information overload by manually organising information on their smartphones or using a tool to help sift out the messages that don’t interest them. There are over 5000 messages coming through per day via email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, direct mail, texts- you name it. They can’t engage with them all, they can’t buy every product so each company must find a USP that grabs attention and truly inspires. It’s no longer about the big budgets for advertising, hundreds of leaflets or a TV advertisement- now, genuinely brilliant content which engages wins.
Who has done it well?
Netflix are a fantastic example of a brand who use targeted and shareable content to engage with this demographic. To promote their exclusive season of ‘Orange is the New Black’ Netflix hosted an interactive Twitter event using a simple and catchy hashtag and the show’s most popular characters. The results were astounding with 98,407 social mentions in one week before the season had even debuted. The key to this success is engagement, understanding their audience and giving them content and interaction that sparks genuine interest.
Oreo is another fantastic brand who have captured the imagination and emotion of Generation Y by focusing on Equality for All. Along with simple and easy access to products and genuine marketing, Millennials also want to see companies working for the good causes. Oreo took a bold and powerful move a few years ago when they decided to show their support in the realm of equality with a campaign around a rainbow Oreo cookie.
For many millennials, this marked the beginning of brands listening to customers, creating advertisements that reach out to everyone. In addition to this, Oreo has tapped into the tech industry by producing high-tech vending machines that reward “tweets with treats”. They are also clever in where the brand is placed making their presence known at large millennial gatherings like South by Southwest. This move has allowed Oreo to re-create itself as something hip and exciting for a younger crowd.
Coca-Cola have capitalised on making their product personal. If you want to win customers over, use their names. The hugely successful “Share a Coke” campaign proved that there is no better way to increase sales than to make bottles personalised to customers. According to The Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola’s soft-drinks sales in the U.S. went up 2% after launching this campaign. The campaign put 250 of the most popular names among teens and Millennials on 20-ounce bottles.
The result was a personal product and share-worthy content. Coca-Cola even created a website wrapped around this campaign that lets customers discover facts about their names, order customised bottles, and find out event dates for the Share a Coke tour.
So what is it that these brands have in common? They have created experiences which Millennials can participate in, that encourages shares and allows real alignment with their brands. Embracing change, fun trends and still having a unique edge is how this group will pick you out from the rest. There will always be a constant thirst for uniqueness and ads that appeal directly to a personal moment in the audiences’ lives. In order to fulfil the Generation Y ideals, brands need to allow customers to contribute to marketing and be involved in the development of new product lines.
The Rise of eLearning
The shift in how millennials take in information and the new channels that have appeared in the last twenty years also have a huge impact on learning. Classroom learning has standalone benefits but you have to embrace the culture change and embed training to be effective. Interactive exercises, bite-sized training and on-the-go connectivity are all aspects that the millennials expect from the learning in this modern age.
Why has eLearning grown exponentially?
• You can learn at any time on any device
• Learn from the experts
• Environmentally friendly
• Fast delivery
• Improves Technical Skills
• Managers can monitor progress and spot any potential issues
• Less time off the job/out of the office
• Fun, interactive and enjoyable way to digest information
Digital learning when working in sync with classroom-based teaching is proven to increase retention and engagement from this group. M&S are just one of the huge brands who saved £500k a year by making the switch to eLearning, during this period they also improved their customer service by 22% and subsequently grew profit (Source: City & Guilds, The Benefits of eLearning Report). The expansion of eLearning has been growing on average by 7.9% each year and it is expected that by 2019 50% of classes will be delivered online (Source: The eLearning Revolution, Velsoft Courseware eLearning infographics). McDonalds are another big hitter who saved £5m over a two year period with their Business Controls eLearning package (Source: City & Guilds, The Benefits of eLearning Report). Not only did this shift in learning impact the speed of learning but also retention and implementation of the new information in the day to day. Not only are the results irrefutable but the students and employees undergoing this new training find the experience much more fun, useful and informative. 70% of students say they learn best in a blended learning environment which encompasses classroom based activities as well as a mix of interactive, online teachings (Source: EdTechReview. Technology in the Classroom). The evidence is clear, a mix of adapted learning to suit new modern expectations as well as classroom training has a significant impact on both the learner and the business. In the last five years alone the types of learning technologies have doubled and they are only set to increase at that same rapid rate in the future.
Attention needs to be earned
With progression, new developments and new platforms we have all become natural editors. This means companies have to become smarter much smarter with the way their plan their campaigns in order to engage and capture the attention of the savvy individuals in Generation Y. Millennials are the future of every business and can be a game-changing asset when engaged with in the right way, they most certainly do not have any issues with engagement and attention- in fact, they are the most digitally knowledgeable group the world has ever seen. With access to more information and messaging than ever before boring content holds no value. This is a fast-paced, dynamic environment which requires innovation and flair in order to cut through.
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