To Millennials, being a geek is a good thing. There are more Millennial Geeks than you know, and they are cultural influencers, passionate about their interests, and fueling trends.
Interests that once might have been considered the domain of geeks only—superheroes, fantasy, space, etc.—are now major media moneymakers, and cultural mainstays. Inspired by the mainstreaming of geek culture, Imgur set out to explore the changing definition of the word, and what it means to young consumers now. Ypulse conducted the research to unmask the Millennial Geek, and worked with Imgur to uncover and showcase the insights found. We surveyed 1000 Millennials and 1000 Xers and Boomers to find out what it means to be a geek today, and what brands should know about the new generation of geeks.
Our research for Imgur revealed that Millennials have embraced being geeky, and that brands need to adjust their perception of geeks. According to Imgur’s VP of Marketing and Revenue Steve Patrizi, “‘This is going to be the customer set that many of us are going to be marketing to for decades, and they are remarkably different from other segments of Millennials and previous generations.’” While Boomers and Xers might have seen geekiness as embarrassing or an insult, Millennials see it as a positive. Today, being a geek means being passionate about your interests, and Millennial Geeks are influencing their peers, spreading trends, and fueling pop culture obsessions. Here’s a closer look at what we learned:
How much has the definition of geek changed? A full 60% of Millennials consider themselves geeks or are into geeky things, compared to just 38% of Xers and Boomers, and 23% are self-proclaimed, full-time geeks. Only 12% of the generation do not consider themselves geeks at all, and the majority don’t believe the geek label is a bad thing. Millennial Geeks are trendsetters: 89% say they learn about things before the rest of their friends, and 82% say their interests grow in popularity after they get into them, compared to 65% of non-geeks. Ever wonder who’s making memes and online content go viral? It’s most likely Millennial Geeks: 67% say they know about things before they go viral, compared to 48% of non-geeks, and they’re much more likely to spread memes and create the kind of content that gets shared online. Millennial Geeks are also influential: 84% say people look to them for advice on a topic, compared to 60% of non-geeks. But they’re wary of brand messaging, with 76% using adblockers and 32% feeling like brands can’t relate to them.
The takeaway for brands: Millennial Geeks are influencers their peers look to for advice and expertise, and they’re both creating and spreading trends—but they’re not as easy to reach as other Millennials. Geeks today are more closed off to traditional brand messaging, instead turning to their own trusted communities online to learn about new things and get opinions. Engaging them authentically in these communities is one way to engage this influential group of consumers. One example: a promoted Old Spice post on Imgur asking users to vote for their favorite GIF actually created requests for more ads.