Millennials in front of the screen

Michał Protasiuk / October 2017

Watching videos is one of the three activities that people devote most time in their lives to (the other two being working and sleeping). Developments in technology have significantly changed the way that we watch videos, and this is particularly evident among Millennials (which can be defined as people aged 16–29).

If we want to predict what the evolution of media will look like, we need to look closely at this group of individuals and understand their behavior. They are the future, and their needs will define the shape of the market for many years to come.

Consumption of video content is common among Millennials.

The Video Love Story, a 2017 IQS survey of people without children aged 16–29, revealed that 91% of respondents had watched video content the day before the survey. However, only 36% of them had watched it on TV. Desktop or laptop computers were more popular (39%), and a good deal of content was also viewed on mobile devices—namely, smartphones and tablets (25%).

Digital natives.

Why does TV only play a limited role in the lives of young people? Millennials grew up in a completely different world than previous generations. The Internet has accompanied them practically since they were born, and a mobile revolution has taken place during their lifetime. Currently, 100% of people aged 16–24 use the Internet, 98% have a smartphone, and every third person in this age group is more likely to use the Internet on a mobile device than on a computer1. The widespread presence of the Internet has abolished communication barriers, shown us the world without borders, and given us an endless repertoire of opportunities.

They are self-assured and confident about their opinions and values.

Nearly 60% of them want to achieve more than others, 40% are convinced that they will succeed in life, and 37% like to stand out from the crowd2. They are inner-directed—they believe that they have full control over their lives and that any success or failure is primarily a result of their own decisions. It is therefore not surprising that Millennials expect exceptional treatment.

In 1909, Henry Ford uttered the famous phrase: "Customers can have a Ford T in any color they want, so long as it is black." This was when the era of mass production and mass marketing began. But now, times have changed. Millennials are a generation whose needs are increasingly difficult to satisfy with mass products. Young people do not want to be "the target"; they expect brands to offer them an individual approach and dialogue. Increasingly, global manufacturers are beginning to understand and follow this trend: one example is Coca-Cola, which tries to personalize its offer by, for instance, placing the consumer's name on its label rather than the logo.

Similarly, Millennials are critical of linear television.

56% of them say that television offers them limited content, while only 20% view television as being for people like them3. Their main source of videos is the Internet, and predominantly YouTube. Monthly YouTube penetration in the group aged 16–24 is 76%, and in the group aged 25–34 it stands at 75%4Millennials watch videos online because they are free to choose the content that suits their needs at any given moment. Television does not guarantee that: only 18% of Millennials feel that they can freely choose the content they would like to see when watching TV5.

Another factor that draws young people to computer and cell-phone screens is the character of the people in the videos that are typically shown on these platforms. YouTubers are often seen as more authentic characters than celebrities representing the world of mass media, and this is perfectly suited to the needs of young people. YouTubers are self-made individuals who have worked hard for their success, which is consistent with how Millennials want to view themselves.

What does the future holds?

The huge impact of Millennials on the global video market is already apparent. Spanish is spoken by about 7% of the world's population. English is much more popular (it is spoken by over three times more people than Spanish). However, as many as five out of the 10 most popular YouTube channels in the world are in Spanish. This stems from the demographic structure of Latin American populations, which are much younger than the populations of Europe or the United States. Millennials are the ones who are fueling the popularity of these YouTubers.

Currently, there are 6.6 million people aged 16–29 in Poland. With their growing purchasing power, their importance as consumers will increase in the years to come. Their video consumption habits will redefine the shape of the media market. We should be prepared for this impending change.

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