I am a millennial.
I have spent a lifetime trying desperately to avoid labels that sought to group me into neatly defined categories used to describe millions of other individuals because I have always felt I was a complex individual that one term could not begin to accurately describe. Rather than fit in to any social, political, or religious groups, I sought to form my own opinions and beliefs and ultimately exist as an individual capable of unique thought.
Yet, despite an early effort to distance myself from the term, I have come to grips with the fact that I am undoubtedly a millennial. Aside from having a birthday that fits in neatly with the years used to define the generation, I am inevitably drawn to technology (the newer the better!), socialize frequently in digital spaces (and need said digital spaces available at a moment’s notice), and have a strong set of social values of which I refuse to compromise. While I can try as much as I want to avoid the term “millennial”, the aforementioned traits all fit in neatly with the typical depictions of the generation.
So, whether I like it or not, I am a millennial. And as an aspiring marketer, I can recognize the difficulties with trying to reach an audience of individuals just like me.
Like many others in my generation I have cut the proverbial cable cord, opting instead to consume television programming via a sort of à la carte-style programming in which I choose shows to watch on a streaming network such as Netflix or Hulu Plus without subscribing to literally hundreds of channels I would never watch via cable or satellite service. Streaming music via Spotify allows me access to thousands of songs without having to listen to repetitive radio programming. The Internet allows me all the access to news and entertainment articles I could ever possibly read without having to pay for any sort of print subscription. Even better, with the rapidly advancing technology found in mobile phones, I can do all of this from my fingertips with my smartphone.
So, for those marketers out there seeking to include me in their target audiences, they are going to need to reach me in my digital space.
This is where understanding how to utilizing emerging media as part of the marketing mix is incredibly important. In 2016, millennials have finally begun to outnumber baby boomers and have become the largest generation in the United States. For any business to survive, digital marketing is now a must, and not just to reach millennials like me. More than 80% of those under 64 are now connecting to the Internet:
More impressive, 73% of the population accesses the Internet at least daily:
This is likely not shocking information to anyone, but in a sense it sets the tone for a discussion about emerging media, as it is impossible to hold that discussion without the Internet. Knowing that 73% of the population accesses the Internet daily is only a pice of the puzzle, however.
It used to be a bit simpler. A home computer was once needed to connect to the Internet, but consumers today utilize all sorts of devices to stay connected. We millennials like our gadgets, and as such the market has provided us with ways to utilize smartphones and tablets, and even now wearable gadgets like watches, bracelets, and eyewear to access the Internet. These separate devices all come with their own intricacies, but a clever marketer can utilize any of these devices to their advantage to reach us while we use these devices. More importantly, a clever marketer will find ways to use these technologies and hold a conversation with us.
This is where social media can, and should, play a major role. Social media has exploded over the last decade, and it use has been widely adopted by most generations, and heavily by us millennials. The variety of platforms to utilize, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and countless others, has allowed for a variety of methods to carry out a conversation online, and marketers should absolutely use this to their advantage, especially since many can access their favorite social media networks anywhere they go. There is an average of 12 new mobile social media accounts that are created every second, which represents a staggering technological reach.
All of this only begins to scratch the surface of emerging media, especially considering that technology keeps advancing at a rapid pace. Recent technological trends that millennials such as myself will continuously adopt these new technologies, so each new connected device represents an opportunity to further a marketing conversation.
In the coming weeks and months, I will continue a discussion of emerging media and how they can be, and are best being utilized by brands to market to their audiences, and specifically how such a “difficult” consumer such as myself can be reached in a digital space.
John Conforti is an IMC student currently in IMC 619 Emerging Media & the Market. This blog post originally appear on his blog Reaching Me in My Digital Space. Check out his blog in the future for more of his posts!