The latest Cassandra Report research recently released by full-service agency Deep Focus reveals some eye-opening data about millennials. Among the interesting stats—32% of respondents to its study ages 18-34 say they feel close to people they have met only online, while more than 76% indicate they have friends on social media who are not really their friends.
The study finds that this type of digital intimacy, described in the report as “eLationships,” transcends physical and digital boundaries and has implications on their perception of brands and choices about media consumption, among other things.
The study also offers some insight into how brands digitally can develop closer relationships with millennials.
Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer at Deep Focus, says, “These findings should serve as a wake-up call to anyone seeking to engage gen-Y consumers.”
Gutfreund adds, “gen-Ys are beginning to hold themselves, and their peers, accountable for their actions in both the digital and physical worlds. They now demand the same code of conduct from the companies and technologies with which they interact.”
This latest report was generated through an online survey among two different respondent groups. One was a nationally representative sample of 901 “mainstream: 18-34-year-olds” and the other, 302 “trendsetter 18-to-34-year-olds” collected from Deep Focus’ private online community, known as Cassandra Speaks. Those in the trendsetter group were included there after answering a series of questions regarding their digital consumption habits, social behaviors and degree of progressive and experimental thinking.
The study found that 36% of trendsetter and 31% of mainstream young people believe their digital relationships are just as meaningful as those they have in person. And 31% of mainstreamers and 30% of trendsetters say they are more engaged with their online life than with their offline life. This should be taken as a clue to brands and marketers who are looking at how to reach this consumer group online.
One of the best ways to reach them online is through gaming. Some 38% of mainstream gen-Yers says gaming helps them meet new people, and both mainstream and trendsetter millennials say they have an average of seven games on their mobile phones.
Illustrating the power of digital media to unite young consumers with their peers, two-thirds of trendsetters and one-third of mainstream respondents say they have friends from around the world in their online social network.
The study found that millennials’ reputations are extremely important to them in their social media interactions and gen-Ys place a great importance on their digital image. Overall, the number of likes they get on a post are even more important than the amount of followers they have. That is particularly true for teen girls and 25-to-34-year-old men.
Breaking it out, 41% of mainstream young people and 64% of trendsetters say their online reputation is important. And 37% of mainstreamers and 63% of trendsetters say the number of likes they get on a post is important. That compares to 30% of mainstreamers and 47% of trendsetters who say the number of friends or followers they have online is important. Also important to a segment of gen-Yers is how many times their posts are retweeted or reposted, and the number of times they’re tagged.
What kind of impact is social media participation having on their retail purchases, particularly clothing? According to the study, 51% of trendsetters and 37% of mainstream millennials say when they pick out their clothes or put together outfits they think about how they will look in posted photos.
The impact of social media on what events millennials attend also carries weight among a segment of them. Twenty-eight percent of trendsetters and 20% of mainstream millennials say they decide on whether to attend events based on how sharable they will be on social media.
Millennials are also looking to the Internet for content that can have an impact on their lives—48% of mainstreamers and 64% of trendsetters say they wish there were more websites that would guide them to positive or uplifting content.
Concerning their media consumption habits, 48% of mainstream and 70% of trendsetting millennials say they use another device when watching television.
The study also affirms the belief that millennials depend greatly upon their mobile devices. Six in 10 mainstreamers and more than 80% of trendsetters say their mobile phones are their most important electronic devices. Nearly 60% of 25-34-year-olds admit they’d be completely lost without their smartphones.
These figures translate into numbers that work for marketers looking to reach this demo. A surprisingly high number of millennials condone having brands communicate with them via their mobile phones—45% of trendsetters and 35% of mainstream gen-Yers say they like to hear from brands via text, email or through ads sent to their smartphones.
Another couple of stats of note for marketers—28% of trendsetters and 20% of mainstream millennials say they can’t take a brand seriously if it does not have a mobile app. And 48% of mainstreamers and 73% of trendsetters would like to see brands create digital stickers or emojis for them to use. Female millennials and teens particularly say emojis make communicating more fun.
A large percentage of millennials would also like to see more brands sponsor or create games, saying it would make them feel more positive about the brand.
In terms of those games, 44% of mainstream millennials and 40% of trendsetters say they wish brands provided or created more games for them to play. And 51% of trendsetter millennials and 46% of mainstreamers say if a brand sponsored or created a game they liked, it would make them like the brand more. Also, 48% of trendsetter millennials and 39% of mainstreamers say they are likely to try a game recommended by a brand they follow on social media. And 34% of trendsetters and 30% of mainstreamers say they don’t mind making in-app purchases if it gives them access to additional levels of a game, or to special features.
Also pertinent to brands, one-third of mainstream online users and 48% of trendsetters would like them to provide a platform that connects them to people with similar interests.
Deep Focus is a subsidiary of Engine USA, and is a full-service agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Shanghai. It was founded in 2002 and acquired by Engine Group in 2010, and now includes the youth marketing company Noise/The Intelligence Group.
Deep Focus’ clients include Nestle, Intel, Purina, Pernod-Ricard, Samsung, E&J Gallo Winery, Yahoo, YouTube, Victoria’s Secret, Chase and Nordstrom.