Ad Age Stat: With all the talk of how millennials'
parents run their lives, does it make sense to market to the
Bilezikjian-Johnson: There is a convergence of influence.
There's this dichotomous relationship there. It's understanding
that they are also playing a role in the influence of others'
purchases as well as their friends and families influences on
themselves. I think what you're speaking to is this notion of
"helicopter parents" and what we found was that millennials also do
that to their peers. The relationship of having each other's backs.
"I made a mistake or I like didn't like this product so I'm going
to share that experience with you because I don't want you to make
the same mistake."
Ad Age Stat: In the study, there's a lot of discussion
about millennial behavior at various stages of the generation. How
much of that is specific to this cohort, and how much is just a
function of being 17 or 27.
Bilezikjian-Johnson I think what makes this generation
different is technology in the sense of immediacy in terms of "I'm
in a store, I have my smartphone. I have an app on my smartphone
that will help me easily compare price where all I have to do is
compare this bar code to figure out where to get this cheaper." But
I also think there's the aspect of technology in regards to the
share. They have a much bigger voice in terms of posting something
online or sharing it amongst their friends. I think that really
Ad Age Stat: Millennials are considered to be among the
hardest hit by the recession. Your study characterizes millennials
as big deal hunters. Will that continue once they start to hit
their stride economically?
Bilezikjian-Johnson I don't think it's that they're not
spending. I think it's a sense that "I'm a smart consumer and if I
have the tools available to me to make sure I am making the right
decision." I think it also depends somewhat on product category.
There are certain categories that we know millennials will spend
more of their time and effort searching out deals for. And those
are very much in line with their spending priorities. When it has
to do with clothing and accessories I think that is something that
is important to them and they will spend the time to figure out
where they can find the best deals. The best deal doesn't always
mean that it's the cheapest. It's about this idea of value.
Ad Age Stat: As they get older and have less time to
bargain shop, because of families, jobs, kids, etc. will they keep
Bilezikjian-Johnson My guess would be yes to some
Ad Age Stat: Which will be a bigger story for the
millennials in the long run: technology or the recession?
Bilezikjian-Johnson Based on our research on the
recession, I think that we found that a lot of consumers have
reached recession fatigue. Many consumers were kind of loosening up
their wallets in terms of affording some of the luxuries that they
have kind of suspended for a few years or a year or so. For
millennials, they just don't know any differently. But my guess
would be technology. With tech it's a convergence of having the
tools to be a smarter shopper -- postings or reviews or tapping
into your social network -- as well as just having your world so
much bigger and at the same time smaller through technology. That's
not going anywhere.
Ad Age Stat: What surprised you about millennials?
Bilezikjian-Johnson Despite the fact that millennials are
so digitally inclined there's still a place for traditional media
specifically TV. Fifty-seven percent of millennials indicated that
TV was the first way that they hear about products and services.
What that means for our clients is that when you're talking to
millennials, it's not solely about digital. Despite the fact that
they're savvy consumers, they are open to having relationships with
brands, but brands in kind have to meet some key criteria for them.
Among those is the concept of authenticity. Also the idea of
expression -- enabling them to express themselves -- affordability
... and quality.
This is the tenth in a series of AdAgeStat Q&As with
researchers who have extensively studied pieces of the demographic
puzzle. Earlier we spoke to
Edward Glaeser about the Triumph of Cities,
Carol Foley about drivers of human behavior,
The Patchwork Nation's Dante Chinni about the role of geography
in segmentation, Joel Kotkin
about suburbs and immigration, Richard Florida
about mega-cities, Paco Underhill
about women, Euro RSCG's
Rose Cameron about men, Tammy
Erickson about Generation X, and behavioral economist
Ariely about how to use everyone's irrationality to your
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