Internet Piracy, SOPA, Megaupload, And What It Means To Millennials

Stop SOPAThe past week had a huge impact on young, media-savvy Millennials, because of the war waging among Internet sites and the federal government. First, young people banded together with websites to stop the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, and succeeded in at least postponing the Congressional votes on the bills. On the heels of celebrating a victory over Internet censorship, they saw Megaupload, a file hosting/sharing platform, get shut down and its operators charged and jailed.

Why does it matter to Millennials? They live their lives online, and file sharing has become a significant part of that — cyber lockers are as much a way for them to give a “mix tape” to a friend who lives overseas as they are a means to share work files with colleagues.

We’re not naïve though. Most Millennials are Internet pirates and use such sites to obtain music without paying. (For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus only on the music industry — movies and TV have their own separate issues.) Ypulse and other researchers have confirmed that most young adults have indeed pilfered music from the Web… But this isn’t a fight against intellectual property and copyright; in fact, more are paying for music than stealing it. So if they’re willing to pay, why are they stealing? In short, it’s in their DNA.

Aside from the fact that students are perpetually broke, Millennials want to try before they buy, whether that means listening to music before buying the album, getting their hands on a tech device before they make the investment, trying out power tools in store before bringing them home, or using a trial membership before signing a contract with a gym. They want to know, beyond a doubt, that they’re going to like what they’re getting. Particularly since the recession, they know that every dollar…


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Quote of the Day: “Time I could be sleeping is time I spend on social media. It's now part of my waking up and going to sleep routine and, for those reasons, I'm feeling done with social media."—Male, 24, CA

MasterCard created an audio-only logo for Generation Voice Activated. The finance brand has debuted a sound they’ll play when people check out using their MasterCard. YPulse data shows that 29% of 18-36-year-olds own a smart speaker device, and that number is only expected to grow along with the use of other audio-activated devices. MasterCard wants to make their brand memorable without visual cues to tap into the $40 billion in revenue voice shopping is expected to generate by 2022. (Fast Company)

Brands are acting uncannily human on Twitter—is it working? Many brands (mainly the food and beverage kind) are “behav[ing] like real people with idiosyncratic personalities” on social media to connect with young consumers. This allows them to “stand out it in a crowded marketplace," explains one marketing professor. And Twitter users are engaging: from Sunny D to Steak-umm, brands are going viral for nihilist, and even depressing, first-person posts. (Vice)

Millennials are buying more greeting cards this Valentine’s Day. The National Retail Federation estimates the industry made as much as $933 million yesterday, compared to $894 million last year. Experts say that Millennials are behind the boost as they buy more expensive, albeit fewer, cards that often have personalized flourishes and functions (like audio). They’re also opting for IRL cards over e-cards because, as one enthusiast explains, "I like giving cards because you can hold it, unlike a text or email.” (NPR)

Brands went beyond romantic messaging for Valentine’s Day this year. Some catered to Millennials’ Treat Yo’Self mentality with collaborations like Tinder and Homesick’s “Single, Not Sorry” candle, while others celebrated Galentine’s Day. Target stocked themed decorations for those hosting girls-only get-togethers and Kay Jewelers set aside a site category for Galentine’s Day gifts. Finally, the NRF estimates that pet owners spent $886 million on their furry friends on Valentine’s Day, and retailers like PetSmart advertised accordingly. (ContentStandard)

More college grads are taking on retail jobs as stores up the ante for new hires. Yes, the trend is fueled by student debt and other financial factors, but also because stores that focus on experience expect more than ever from their customer service reps. Workers at Sweaty Betty, Everlane, and Warby Parker are reportedly trained with workshops, tests, and homework. But while, as one expert explains, “Customers are also coming in with much higher expectations of what level of service they’re going to receive,” retail wages aren’t keeping pace. (Refinery29)

Quote of the Day: “The best thing about social media is to connect with people across geographical boundaries and cultures. I love interacting with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”—Female, 22, PA

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