May 20, 2010

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4 Perspectives About Millenials Every younger generation knows better. Every younger generation wants to un-do, reject, fix or repair the mistakes made by their elders. Every younger generation brings its own POV to the party. Mr.Youth and Intrepid Consulting have put a bunch of US and UK millennials under the microscope by engaging them in projection exercises, surveying them and analyzing their digital ethnography to produce some insights into what they want, how they think and how to engage, manage or sell them. Titled Millennial Inc. – What Your Company Will Look Like When Millennials Call the Shots,” it gets you thinking about the younger people you work with and the target audiences you seek to influence and persuade. Consider four of the provocative notions discovered: Collaboration, shared responsibility and consensus rule. Millenials want to be taken seriously and have both a voice and vote. They expect to weigh-in on the key issues regardless of rank, tenure, status or skill set. They don’t want to be bossed around and expect to be included in every relevant decision. They reject hierarchy. “Seniority and tenure are dirty words.” They don’t want to be bored or have to work their way up along a well-trodden path. Maybe this is a presumption unique to this generation. Though, I doubt it. It feels like the same youthful enthusiasm that newbie’s have always brought to the party. The plea for immediate inclusion, access, status and respect is characteristic of people not yet burned by the system, circumstances or peers. Vaguely socialist, it’s a good but naïve starting point. They expect a personalized, customized, user-driven experience. Raised as digital natives and gamers, it’s all about the intuitive experience where there are always several ways to solve the puzzle and where the best idea always wins. They want cool design and easy navigation to deliver end user benefits. And they want to be able to adjust the level, the design, the content, the frequency or intensity according to personal preferences. These are different expectations from Boomers or other generations. Millenials gather and process information differently. They live out loud and freely share information among themselves. They embrace new technology and new devices instantly. Used to multi-media, non-linear data displays and multi-channel multi-tasking, they experience the world differently. As a result those seeking to communicate with them have to engage them on their own terms. This requires a different construction and parsing of content as well as a radically different approach toward fundamental concepts like reach, frequency, media channels and engagement. Eco-consciousness is not a driving factor. It’s a nice-to-have but not a cornerstone of their worldview. They assign the responsibility for saving the planet to business rather than to individuals. But as they better understand the trade-offs between business efficiency and ecology or humanitarian causes, they are willing to make fiscally friendly decisions. Evidently, the younger crowd isn’t much different from the rest of us in this regard. They are more than happy to pass on the consequences of our actions. It’s not the celebrity; it’s the character. Raised in a celebrity culture, Millennials reject direct endorsement and the cult of celebrity preferring instead to relate to the characters portrayed rather than actors portraying them. Maybe this is an avatar boomerang where kids used to selecting images and qualities to represent themselves reject the obviously manufactured personalities shoved down their throats by media and marketers. This doesn’t feel entirely true. Maybe its more about millennials demanding the right to anoint their own celebrities and esteem peers or personalities found worthy by crowdsourcing or by other more “democratic” ways. Stars are still stars for the younger crowd with all the volatility, vulnerability and hype that goes with it. Maybe this is where social networks, word-of-mouth communication and peer-to-peer recommendations play the biggest role rather than relying on traditional tastemakers or star-makers. The younger generation will inherit our jobs and our economy. Understanding their formative experiences, understanding their needs and perspectives and then calibrating our reaction to them will determine how successful they can be at digging us out of our economic troubles, re-inventing our business models or bringing about the revolution we all clamored for when we were their age.
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GoogleTV -- Another Play for Domination Google TV directly addresses the greatest unsolved fantasy about the Internet; tying content, channels and devices together to build and control a limitless selling and customer relationship ecosystem. Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, marketers have drooled over the prospect of consumers watching TV, clicking on the screen and seeking out information (accompanied by ads) or directly buying the stuff they see on their favorite shows or characters. The coalition and firepower of Google, SONY, Logitech, Intel and Best Buy just might pull it off if they can strike the right deals with broadcast and cable networks. Technically Google TV will marry a bunch of technologies together into a single complete package using a set-top box, Blu-Ray players or a web-based interface supporting a remote controller with a QWERTY keyboard. Commercially Google TV aims to capture a huge share of the combined ad revenues for TV and the Internet, which are estimated to be in the $100 billion range. And while there will be a lot of commentary and hand-wringing about which services are offered, who partners with whom and how far the Android OS can be stretched, the real test, as Dan Nosowitz describes in FastCompany is how GoogleTV fares with the moms and nerds. The former predict scalability and the potential for widespread consumer acceptance. The latter determine buzz, early adopters and the likelihood of an attendant developers community dedicated to creating apps, extensions and add-ons. For nerds, “if Google TV is mostly a search bar for all my existing crap, plus Web video and assorted stuff on the Internet, it won’t revolutionize my TV experience – it’ll just make parts of it easier.” Revolutionizing the TV experience – the last remaining cultural commonality all Americans share – are the stakes behind the Google TV play. Forget about Google trying to trump Apple TV or Google edging out Amazon, Hulu, Rhapsody or NetFlix for a slice of consumer attention, traffic and spending. This is about owning the box that has dominated our cultural life and leisure time our since the 50s.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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