Millennial expert Lindsey Pollak’s message to magazine media

This is the view of Lindsey Pollak, author, top expert and workplace consultant on the millennial generation, who will be speaking at the MPA’s American Magazine Media 360º conference in New York, USA, taking place on 2-3 February. Pollak shares some thoughts with Cobus Heyl, ahead of the AMMC.

When talking media, over the years, there is often one or another drive to attract a youth audience, to invest in the future consumers. But there are real differences between the millennial generation and their predecessors, which already have an impact, and will continue to have an impact, on media consumption. Two questions: 

(1) What are the key differences (between millennials and previous generations)? 

The key difference is driven by technology and the internet. While members of older generations are certainly active, enthusiastic users of technology, we often see it as additive to or in place of other media options. Millennials, known as digital natives, often think of technology first. It’s as if other generations might be proficient or even fluent ‘speakers’ of technology and social media, but millennials are native speakers. It is simply second nature to them and integrated into everything they do.

(2) Are there any similarities?

Absolutely! We are all people, we just have different preferences (and, of course, not all 80 million millennials like the same things, just as all baby boomers or gen Xers don’t act alike). I think all generations appreciate and seek out good, compelling, entertaining content. All generations like to be respected by brands and advertisers. All generations appreciate value for their money. 

You are speaking at the MPA’s American Magazine Media 360º Conference in February. We – FIPP – have magazine media members around the world. What will your main message to them be? 

If I had to pick one key message it’s that millennials are now a larger generation (here in the US) than the baby boomers and therefore represent the largest marketing and product development opportunity in modern history. For too long companies have talked about millennials as some sort of challenge to be solved or problem to be overcome; let’s start seeing them for the amazing opportunity they are. I know that change can be scary, but it can’t be ignored.

And for those publishers where print is still an important consideration…do millennials care for print at all? If yes, how does it fit in with the rest?

Certainly some millennials prefer print, but it’s likely not the only way they are consuming your content. Millennials like to keep their options open, so when they feel like grabbing a print magazine, they want it to be available. When they feel like consuming your content on their iPad instead, that can’t feel like you consider this a “lesser” choice. Millennials want all of their media options to be fully integrated and equal. For example, they don’t like a special offer that is ‘in-store only’. Focus on building your brand and, in my opinion, the distribution of that brand is always secondary.

There were two fascinating pieces on Medium recently, written by an “actual teenager”, about his use of social media (for background, see the first one here) and the second one here), while this response from Danah Boyd (principal researcher at Microsoft Research and founder of the Data and Research Institute) also caught the eye. Your thoughts?

Regarding Danah Boyd’s post, I think it is very important to note that millennials are our most diverse generation ever and we have to be careful to listen to different millennial voices, not just college-educated, suburban kids.

That said, the main message I took away from the teenager’s post was: LISTEN TO MILLENNIALS. They are more than happy to tell you exactly what they want. I have a policy with my consulting clients that we must have a millennial in the room whenever we are talking about them. You’d be amazed how many companies never ask millennials what they want before marketing to them or creating products for them.

More like this

MPA’s American Magazine Media 360º Conference 

FIPP’s CEO and President Chris Llewellyn’s view on Millennials and four other trends for 2015 

About Lindsey Pollak

Lindsey Pollak is considered as one of the top experts on the Millennial generation. She is the author of two books, including the recent New York Times best seller Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders. Amongst other things, she is an official LinkedIn ambassador and a chairwoman of the Cosmopolitan Millennial advisor board. See her website here.

Are you a Millennial?

Get in touch with Amy Duffin to share your thoughts.

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