When it comes to the media habits of 20-somethings, there’s good news and bad news for local media.
The good news is they love traditional media. I mean love it.
The bad news is, “traditional media” has a whole different meaning to them.
“I’m confused,” one of the panelists said on a prep call for next week’s Social+Mobile Conference. “I’m not sure what you mean when you ask how we’re using traditional media. To me, traditional media is my RSS reader or Twitter.”
Wow. In the 30-minute call, I heard a number of other startling things.
“I read a newspaper regularly. But only online, or on a tablet.”
“I watch TV, but mostly HBO shows. We’re getting rid of Comcast and going with Netflix.”
“I do watch some regular TV, usually on Hulu. But they have advertisements, which are super annoying.”
“I am very influenced by bloggers when I shop and buy things. I could have a coupon for something, but if I see a negative review . . . I don’t buy.”
The panel of a half-dozen 20-somethings portends to be the most sobering of the entire two-day conference. The prep call was frankly a bit scary. As moderator Terry Kukle of Metroland Media told the group, “You’ll be sitting in front of about 200 high-level media executives. But frankly, we’re more terrified by you guys than you probably are of the audience.”
The panel has a slight twist. It’s not a group of kids from middle America destined to take over the family hardware store, get a job in the shipyard, or be a FedEx driver. All have some interest in the media – whether it’s working at a digital agency, at a company that works with local TV stations, or managing a website for a retail business. They know and understand media. So their insights are bound to be especially poignant.
What influences their buying habits is especially interesting. “I see of lot of stuff from friends online,” one of them said. “I’m usually influenced the most by that.” Another said, “I’m very influenced by bloggers whenever I shop.”
That confirms what we recently found when publishing our annual outlook on automotive advertising last month. The long-embraced car-buying funnel, in which consumers typically spent six months searching for a car, now spend less than three months – almost all of it online. The result is an abbreviation of the funnel into a car-buying shot glass, shown in this infographic.
Will the habits of these young adults change when they get married, have kids, settle down and get more interested in what the City Council and School Board do? No – and here’s proof: In the mid-1970s the age group that dealt newspapers their largest circulation losses were the 18- to 24-year-olds. That group moved like a bubble through the ensuing decades, until they became the most important consumers – the 45- to 54-year-olds in the early 2000s. And that’s exactly when newspaper ad revenue started collapsing.
Who were those 20-somethings in the 1970s? They were the first generation to have grown up with the new medium of the day, television.
Those 20-somethings are here, and inasmuch as the adoption rate of digital media is much faster than that of television in the 1950s, we really need to sit up and pay attention to what they’re telling us today.
The conference is Aug. 21-22 at the Sheraton O’Hare in Chicago. Check out the agenda here. Hope to see you there.