LinkedinGoogle Plus

How Millennials Are Interacting with Media Today

How Millennials Are Interacting with Media Today

While arguments can be made about which generations should or should not be the primary focus of advertising, it’s unquestionable (for many brands, at least) that part of the target market include Millennials. The generation bracket includes 18 to 34 year olds, and it’s considered not only the largest generation at 83.1 million, but the largest work force.

More importantly, Millennials spend about $600 billion annually, an amount that’s expected to grow to an amazing $1.4 trillion by 2020. That’s roughly a third of US retail sales, yet an astounding 40% feel that brands don’t take them seriously as spenders. It’s time to take a closer look at how your marketing is reaching this important group.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss how Millennials are interacting with media today and how that affects how you market to them.

Device Preferences

Before breaking down the media channels and how much Millennials use and trust them, it’s wise to take a look at what devices they use to consume media.

For Making Purchases:

  • On Smartphones
    • Millennials, Gen X-ers, and Boomers are about equally likely to own an Android smartphone at 54%, 55%, and 50% respectively, but Millennials are twice as likely to own an iPhone than Boomers (53% vs. 24% respectively).
    • Millennials are the most likely to own a Windows smartphone at 20%.
    • Boomers are roughly 20% less likely to use their smartphone to make purchases in those categories than Millennials are.
  • On Tablets
    • While the preference statistics between iPads and Android tablets are close, which generation is likely to own what is inverse. Millennials are most likely to own an iPad (33%) while Boomers are most likely to own an Android (37%). Gen X is almost equally likely to buy either.
    • Tablets are the least likely to be used at generally 12% or 13% for Millennials and Gen X-ers, except for CPG, which Gen X-ers are 20% likely to use tablets to purchase.
    • Almost no Boomers will use a tablet, especially for either auto or travel purchases (6%).
  • On Laptops
    • When making Auto, Consumer Electronics, CPG, and Travel purchases, Millennials are just as likely to use their smartphone as they are to use their laptop.
    • Boomers and Gen X-ers are more likely to prefer using their laptop in these categories, and furthermore, Boomers are roughly 10% more likely than Millennials to use their laptops.

For Consuming Content:

  •  On TV
    • Millennials are equally likely to watch TV as they are to use a smartphone every day at 77%, however, they’re 14% less likely than Boomers to watch TV daily, and 35% more likely than Boomers to use the smartphone every day.
  •  On Mobile Devices
    • 52% of people using mobile devices as the primary method to consumer content are Millennials, while only 14% are Boomers.
    • 1 in 5 Millennials will use their mobile devices as their exclusive source of internet access.
    • 45% of smartphone- and tablet-using 13- to 18-year-olds in the US spent four hours or more using the mobile internet each weekday, while nearly half of 19- to 22-year-olds spent at least four hours with the mobile internet every weekday.
    • Millennials are the leaders in multi-screen content experiences, i.e., multitasking across devices.1 in 5 Millennials will use their mobile devices as their exclusive source of internet access.
  • Digitally
    • Leading-edge Millennials spend 102 hours/month consuming digital content, while trailing-edge isn’t far behind at 98 hours/month.
    • 86% of Millennial mobile digital time is spent in apps, and 60% of Millennials are likely to be using apps while also watching TV.

Marketing That Resonates

The consumer journey is definitively fragmented for Millennials, and that’s not simply because of mobile’s contribution to micro-moments at the Zero Moment of Truth. Millennials don’t like to be marketed to in the traditional sense, and this style of marketing probably plays into the way they don’t feel brands take them seriously enough. You need to market to Millennials in a way that resonates.

Here, you want your marketing to be relevant, authentic and intuitive. For instance, 75% of Millennials are more willing to listen to advertising while listening to music if the ads are entertaining, useful, and focused on one of their areas of interest. Purchase decisions tend to be predicated on content, and 31% want that content to read as authentic and truthful without being salesy. Furthermore, 30% will flat out refuse to read content that isn’t either useful or entertaining. Just over 30% will continue participating in a brand loyalty program if they consider it fun, while 51% require exclusivity and 66% want reward experiences that are unique.

From statistics such as these, it should become clear that marketing will be most effective with Millennials if it’s personalized, useful, entertaining, and in some way unique or exclusive.

Brands That Resonate

Millennials prefer brands that actively court them, however, there’s a factor that may be more important. Brand perception is also extremely important to Millennials, and it defines not only brand selection, but brand loyalty. How you operate your business — or perhaps more pertinently, the PR for how you operate your business — is just as important to effective marketing as any tactic you use to build a relationship with a customer.

In one recent survey, more than half of the Millennials surveyed said they were willing to be loyal to a brand if it made certain changes, and 63% of those answered the brand engaging with philanthropies and causes, especially if the endeavors aligned with their specific beliefs or values. Another survey asked which qualities mattered most in a business, and while high-quality products topped the list at 75%, they also listed social responsibility (40%), shares similar interests (39%), and fits their personality (53%).

Furthermore, 73% of Millennials are willing to try new or otherwise unfamiliar products if the brand releasing it supports a cause with the purchase, and 85% consider the brand’s responsible efforts as part of the decision about whether or not to recommend it. Conversely, 33% are willing to boycott a business based on the company’s stance on issues, while 47% would change brands if they discovered the company had been using bad business practices. Another 52% believe brands should change based on consumer opinion.

Media Breakdown

A lot of assumptions have been made about how Millennials are interacting with media today, so for some of these; you may be surprised to see the actual statistics for the media they use and influences them.


Believe it or not, 62% of readers between the ages of 16 and 24 prefer print books over eBooks, and only 2% of college students utilize e-text materials. What’s more, 71% of Millennials have made a purchase as a direct result of receiving direct mail. About 80% of adults in the U.S. preferred to read magazines in print (i.e., a hard copy) then digitally or online, and 68% of 18 to 24 year olds react to ads in printed newspapers, especially with regards to coupons.

Confused about why? Quite simply, human brains react well to tactile experiences.


Like print, radio is often written off as only useful for older generations, but this is just as much of a fallacy. How Millennials interact with radio isn’t all that different than other generations. While Millennials technically have the lowest percentage of total listeners, the rates remain close across generations (91% of Millennials compared to 94% of Gen X and 93% of Boomers) and Millennials have the highest number of listeners despite the lowest percentage (more than 66 million Millennials compared to 57.9 million Gen X-ers and 57.9 million Boomers). That’s just under a third of the total 243 million Americans that listen to radio weekly.

This only discusses traditional radio and streaming radio still needs to be considered. Roughly 66% of Millennials (specifically 18 to 34 years old) listen to online radio monthly. Furthermore, 67% of them listen from mobile devices. The good news for advertisers is this — 89% of Millennial streaming radio listeners prefer ad-supported listening over subscription, ad-free listening.

TV & Video

How Millennials interact with TV is indicative of the way technology is changing viewing habits. According to one study, 62% of surveyed Millennials preferred watching shows, movies, and other long-form video on a TV set, and 60% said they were likely to own a TV set in five years. Additionally, according to Forrester, Millennials are just as likely to watch live broadcast TV, free streaming video, and paid streaming video at 40%. For the latter two, Millennials are the leading viewers in those categories by 8% and 10% more than Gen-X and trailing-edge Boomers. However, live broadcast TV viewing put Gen X and trailing-edge Boomers 12% ahead of Millennials.

However, only 46% of all viewers watch linear TV monthly. Only 43% of Millennials foresee having a cable subscription in five years, while 61% saw themselves subscribing to some kind of on-demand video service. After YouTube, Netflix is the most popular OTT (over the top) video service for viewers of all ages. And after Netflix, Millennials are more likely to watch Hulu and Hulu Plus than other age groups.

In fact, even owning a TV in the future may not mean having traditional TV service at all, since 40% intend on having smart TV’s enabled to use streaming services by 2020. Furthermore, Millennials are more likely to watch on a mobile while on-the-go (59%) than stay at home with their TV (47%).


Gone are the days of frivolous social media. This is most clearly seen in the realm of politics, and not just from candidates attempting to woo voters by taking to the latest platform. Just over 70% use Facebook to discuss content related to elections, and 19% of Millennials use social media to advocate specific political positions. It should be no surprise, then, that this critical access point also plays a leading role in something like shopping.

When asked where they preferred to engage with brands, social media was also second only to the brand’s website at just under 50% of those surveyed. In one study, 47% of Millennials said they discovered new brands through social sharing (e.g., Pins, Likes, Tweets). Furthermore, 1 in 3 were willing to consider purchasing via social media platforms, and another 1 in 10 have already performed this kind of purchase. And 28% would make a purchase based on recommendations made on social media, making social platforms the new word-of-mouth.

Here’s a few more statistics:

With a greater understanding of how Millennials are interacting with media today, you can audit your marketing strategy. Don’t risk underestimating this demographic or what its purchasing power can offer your company.