The Millennials have been called the unluckiest generation by some.  They have been written off as a feckless generation by others.  (Interestingly including by millennials themselves but they’d like to point out that it is not their fault).

The Economist Group on the other hand disagrees and believes that the future is very positive for this segment. Their new research contradicts the stereotypes (lazy, narcissistic, apathetic and only interested in social media) and instead paints a picture of them as “arguably the most sophisticated media generation ever.”  Which given that they’re going to dominate the workforce of the UK in just a couple of years is important to address in media and communications thinking.


MediaCom’s own research reinforces the idea that they are different from the generation (Gen X) which preceded them.  In fact they seem in some ways to have more in common with the more outrageous of the Baby Boomers in terms of attitudes and openness to change.  In many households these two generations now live together (parents who might have confidently expected to empty nest by this point are instead still living with adult children who can’t afford to get on the property ladder).  In these “Boomennials” households experiences are shared and the two generations rub off on each other.  So for instance usage of second screens by Baby Boomers is above the average because they’re aping the behaviour of the Millennials that they live with.


Of course Millennials are the big users of smart phones and tablets.  They are the ones checking their phones before they get up and after they’ve gone to bed.  The Economist is correct in suggesting that social media is not their only media channel though it is how they navigate other media.  They consume physical, traditional format, media as well as digital media even though they are the first generation which has grown up with both.  Introducing the research at Adweek Economist Group’s Global MD of Client Strategy Nick Blunden explained that there’s more influencers in this group than in any other generation and named them “Gen-narrators”.  This group have a real potential as effective brand advocates, perhaps the most effective that we have ever seen, both to their peers and the wider consumer public (remember they’re living with Boomers for a start).


We really need to get to them therefore if we expect to influence with a comms strategy.  They’re a sophisticated bunch.  They are the first generation that fully, instinctively and expertly understand social media.  They know how to get their voice heard.  Media is properly democratised in their hands.  It is the first time ever that a generation’s voice has not been edited or mitigated by a few individuals – the editors of papers and magazines, radio and TV.


The power of this is awesome.  We must thank the inventor of the hashtag for their ability to navigate the avalanche of opinion that this power creates.  Will we see loyalty to a particular media brand migrate instead to loyalty to a hashtag about which people are passionate?



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