20 Things That Confuse Publishers About Millennials

Posted by Sydney M. Wolff on Aug 25, 2015 5:43:00 PM

Topics: Audience Insights


Millennials are a constant obsession for publishers, brands, and advertisers. They conduct focus groups, sponsor research, and even recruit millennial employees specifically to gain insight into the population. Publishers are taking extreme measures to understand and relate to this massive audience of of 18-34 year olds, but are still struggling to capture their attention. So what is it about this generation that is so baffling?


     1. They want everything to be totally unbiased.

Millennials have no desire to hear information from an opinionated source, and only let their guards down when they know what they’re hearing is based on fact.

     2. …Or it has to come from someone who’s shamelessly subjective.

If their friends or trusted bloggers post their thoughts on social media, it’s not only fair game, it’s share-worthy news. 

     3. Social media comes first.

Millennials rely heavily on social media platforms for updates on the world, meaning even revered publications can’t compare to the speed and influence of a Facebook post.

     4. Their education means trusting what they know.

Unlike other generations, millennials’ opinions on the news come from the impressions they get from their education and peers rather than the sway of a political party.

     5. Not even millennials know what other millennials want.

The generation ranges from high school seniors to parents. How can publishers cater to a group of people who are so vastly different in age?

     6. Individualism is highly valued.

Even those similar in age differ in tastes, goals, and values, making it almost impossible to cater to any large group within their generation.

     7. The influential generation is seemingly indefinable.

Millennials make up nearly a third of the work force, and so far can’t seem to be categorized as any one thing, besides technologically savvy.

     8. Price matters more than pleasure.

Coming from a world of debt and recession, millennials won’t pay a cent more than they need to for anything, especially if they can Google it for free.

     9. Time is limited.

6 out of 10 millennials are employed. So free time for perusing news and informational sites takes a back seat to their career (or career hunt.)

     10. Millennials are a little too wary of persuasion.

Because one-third of older millennials have a Bachelor’s Degree, any attempts to be swayed by politics, advertisements, etc. make the generation skeptical of the information and skeptical of the source.

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     11. They’re disinterested in anything extra.

Advertisements or any “frills” scare off millennials looking for information; only 6 percent consider online advertising to be credible, so if it’s not short and to the point it probably won’t win them over. 

     12. Millennials aren’t loyal to any one news source.

They’re obsessed with technology, and with a world’s worth of information constantly at their fingertips—or in their back pockets—just one newspaper or website doesn’t make the cut.

     13. However, it’s crucial that brands are trustworthy.

Millennials are seven times more likely to give their information to a trustworthy source, but that doesn’t equate to consistency.

     14. Even social media is a moving target.

Even within the so-called umbrella category of the technological generation, millennials still find a way to express their lack of commitment; how can publishers pin down this cyber-world when everyone is constantly hopping from one popular social media platform to the next?

     15. Skepticism makes them fickle.

In a world where individuality and critical thinking are rewarded, millennials tend to question everything. Even their most beloved blogger isn’t safe from these cynical tendencies.

     16. Millennials aren’t settling down.

The generation is less likely to create households in their 20s and 30s, making them financially unstable and even more un-relatable to older generations.

      17. Millennials' time and publishers' money are spent in different places.

While publishers are still spending money to develop more traditional media, millennials are investing the majority of their time on social media platforms, creating a huge disconnect between the two.

     18. Emotional messages surprisingly hook Millennials.

Although skeptical, millennials tend to react strongly to emotional stories and are more likely to share them with friends.

     19. Mom and dad still pay their bills.

Because millennials are settling down later, they often rely on parents for financial support longer than other generations. This means publishers must also consider their parents’ interests. 

     20. Transactions must be quick and easy.

Millennials want things quick, and if they’re miraculously willing to pay for something it must be effortless and electronic.

Although this list might create more questions than answers, it appears as though there is one simple solution; instead of grouping this unique and diverse collection of people together, publishers should break down the generation into individuals. The faster publishers can define this generation’s quirky and distinctive traits, the faster they’ll be able to win them over.