The impact of millennials on brands


WoodWing millennials header ()


The consequence of not adapting

Being born between 1980 and 2000, they make up a majority of employees. That’s almost one in three US workers; they’ve entered our workplaces ‘en masse’. As a result they are responsible for a large part of the yearly outlays and consumption. Being appealing to this group is an important success factor for brands these days. Take a look at the entertainment sector; six of the biggest media companies (21st Century Fox, CBS, Discovery, Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney) lost 45 billion dollars in market value in six weeks last year.

The fear of cord-cutting was to blame; traditional media companies are affected as audiences become accustomed to commercial-free viewing on streaming services. All this means both networks and advertisers will need to adapt to the changing digital world. One of the most known examples of a company that did adapt before it was too late, is Netflix. We all know their story: from video rental service to the most popular online streaming service. They have adapted to match the millennial’s behaviour, provided them with a service that matches their demands, and are doing exceptionally well because of it. 

Communication is changing

With the change of audience behaviour – largely due to millennials – not only do the services and channels have to adapt, but also the way brands communicate needs to change. Audiences today want their brands have meaning, and to engage and connect with them. The millennials’ commitment to personal values makes it even more important for brands to uncover the ‘why’. Telling them about features and functionality just doesn’t cut it anymore. Companies need to talk about why they do what they do instead of just what they do. In short, the content itself has to change. 

Although today’s consumers are always looking for the next best thing, a study conducted by NewsCred, found that millennials significantly prefer company brands that have a great product (77 per cent), and nearly a third said they’re more likely to buy a product if the brand’s content isn’t sales-y and instead feels authentic and truthful. It all comes down to that millennials don’t want ads, they want stories.


WoodWing millennials 2 ()


Competition is increasing

Most companies are investing greatly in content to engage millennials whenever and wherever they may be, via their preferred channel and with messaging that speaks to them. Nowadays there is increased competition for audience attention from both media companies and product brands. This blur in distinction means traditional media companies need to step up. As Rob Koghee, founder of New Skool Media, explains: “Don’t be afraid to try new things, think outside the square and take an entrepreneurial approach, in order to remain competitive.” Companies need to constantly keep content fresh in order to remain a part of the millennial’s life.

Content for any channel

The most important thing is that these (branded) content stories match the audience’s lifestyle. Millennials in particular like exciting and inspiring images filling their Instagram feed and short, snackable content that they can consume in between appointments. And don’t forget the devices: they expect content to be responsive and available on any device.

Channel-neutral content creation allows a channel-neutral story to be written, a variant to be created, the story to be tweaked, and then published onto any digital or print channel. This channel-neutral way of working allows different teams or even brands to easily share stories, or the same brand to reuse the story on any channel. This way of content creation means reaching audiences on all of their devices and channels is easy, meeting the millennials’ demands.


WoodWing millennials ()


A change in the way we work

We mentioned tweak before – as it is very important to adapt a story for each channel. Going back to our millennial friends, they expect content to be differentiated for each channel or platform. New digital platforms and a change in consumer behavior means publishers need to change the way they work. Inefficient processes and wasted resources are not going to stand the test of time. There are technologies out there to help streamline the process and break down the silos between print and digital teams. It’s time to adapt the way we work.

Creating channel-neutral content and streamlining work processes is simple and makes sense. As we have seen in the past, it is imperative to look at our audiences’ behavior, find new technologies, solutions and ways of working, as it is not only a nice to have, but imperative for remaining competitive and to survive.

This article is sponsored by WoodWing Software.

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x