Mic Knows How to Speak Millennial: Insights From Millennial 20/20 Speakers

Mic's CSO, who will be speaking at the upcoming Millennial 20/20, answers five questions on reaching young consumers today, and says brands need to stop “dumbing down” content for the generations…

The way young consumers want to shop, interact with brands, consume content and make payments is evolving—and we’ll be talking about it all at Millennial 20/20 along with 4,000+ brands, retailers, corporates, service providers, media, entrepreneurs, and start-ups.

Join us at Millennial 20/20 North America in New York City on March 1-2, and use the code YPULSE25 to get 25% off your tickets here. 

 

Back in 2015, we called out Mic as one of the new platforms working to Millennialize the news. Since then, the site has continued to perfect their approach to reaching young consumers, learning what matters most to the generation, and the best way to communicate with them. Mic is on mission to prove Millennials care about the news. By 2016, 70% of the media brand’s audience was between 21-34-years-old, and they have continued to reach the highly-coveted demographic by using an adaptive storytelling strategy, and meeting their audience across relevant platforms. Their DisOrDatBot interactive bots has helped make Mic the most popular publisher on Kik, asking users to choose a side on a well-known issue and then informing them if they are in the minority or the majority. Recently, the brand teamed up with Discover to give Millennials financial advice on the new digital channel The Payoff, giving guidance on topics like managing student debt and setting up a Mint account. To reach people where they’re already spending their time, the content will exist in many forms, including podcasts, video series, newsletters and more. In other words, Mic knows about communicating with Millennials. 

We spoke to Mic’s Chief Strategy Officer Cory Haik to find out how the site is reaching Millennial consumers, and what they’ve learned about the generation:

Ypulse: What part of society, or what industry, do you think Millennials are impacting the most?

Cory Haik: It’s a majority held belief by young people that equality across race, class and gender are of utmost importance. This hot-button issue stretches across sectors, and for Millennials, it will be something they vote for in public offices and with their wallets.

 

YP: What has your brand done or changed specifically to better appeal to Millennials?

CH: Mic has debunked, over and over, that young people aren’t interested or don’t care about the news. Our audiences are looking for important and meaningful news, but in a way that’s relevant to them, and on platforms they spend their time with. The combination of Mic’s voice and platform-specific approach to storytelling have had immense success and impact in engaging young people around issues that are important to them.

 

YP: What has surprised you about Millennial consumers, or have you learned anything about selling to/reaching Millennials that might surprise readers?

CH: This isn’t surprising to Mic, per se, but I think to many publishers or marketers who think they need to ‘dumb down’ their offering, or make it super hip. Our audiences appreciate when we are talking to them in smart ways about issues that matter most to them, and aren’t just trying to create cute or ‘viral’ packaging. We have to give them the credit they deserve if we want them to take us seriously.

 

YP: What do you forsee as the next big trends the will impact young consumers’ shopping behaviors?

CH: Young consumers are voting with their wallets. It will be important for brands to connect to the issues Millennials care about and be transparent and true to their values. This is very core to Mic and how we approach our journalism every day.

 

YP: What is the one thing all brands should know about selling to/reaching Millennials and the next generation of consumers?

CH: Trust and transparency are key.

 

Cory Haik, Chief Strategy Officer

Cory is the Chief Strategy Officer of Mic where she leads the company's strategy and growth initiatives across editorial, product and sales. Prior to Mic, Haik was at the Washington Post, leading innovative initiatives  to grow new audiences on mobile and platforms. Previously, she cut her teeth following the storms of the Gulf Coast at NOLA.com, site of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where she was the Managing Editor. She shared in two Pulitzer Prizes with The Times-Picayune for the staff coverage of Hurricane Katrina, for breaking news and public service in 2006. She also shared in a staff Pulitzer in 2010 for the coverage of police officer shootings with the staff of The Seattle Times. Cory holds a Masters of Arts in Communication Theory from the University of New Orleans. 

 

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The Newsfeed

“I eat [Pizza Hut] least two times per month; it's one of my favorite places to go to eat pizza.”—Male, 35, VA

More Millennials are asking for cash wedding registries, and it’s bad news for stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams Sonoma. Increasingly, young couples are asking guests to contribute towards their nest egg, travel, or anything they feel like buying themselves. Companies like Zola and Honeypot have boomed in popularity, offering a personalized platform for their cash registries. However, their success with wedding registries is taking “a key customer acquisition tool” away from home décor stores. (Insider)

The beauty industry is catering to Customization Nation, as more companies crop up to blend unique beauty products for each customer. But can the trend scale? Truly personalized products, like the ones offered by hair care start-up Function of Beauty and makeup company Bite Beauty, take time and resources. But companies that offer base products with just a personalized element or two could be the future of the industry. And big-name brands are getting their feet wet too: Lancôme and CoverGirl have both offered custom-made foundations. (Glossy)

Nordstrom is taking risks to survive retail’s big shifts. Instead of shuttering stores, they’re opening experimental retail locations, revamping their department stores, and making their mark in Manhattan with their first store openings. The long-standing brand also bought ecommerce site HauteLook and the subscription service Trunk Club. So far, their risk-taking hasn’t proved to be a boon to their bottom line—but only time will tell. (WSJ)

Hollister is teaming up with AwesomenessTV to reach Gen Z with a YouTube series. “The Carpe Life” will be a part of a broader campaign, which includes influencer marketingand appeals to young consumers’ love for active, adventurous lifestyles. "The Carpe Life" follows Hollister's first YouTube series, “This is Summer” which “boosted key brand metrics by double digits,” adding on to their overall positive impact on Abercrombie & Fitch’s rising bottom line. (Marketing Dive)

Netflix is switching its strategy, putting less money into “prestige films” for the Post-TV Gen. Instead, they’re churning out more direct-to-video releases. Last year, they bought ten titles at Sundance while this year they had none. While they continue to create original content like the recent The Cloverfield Paradox, they’re betting on less-than-award-worthy films to maintain their hold on Millennial viewers. (The Atlantic)

“Basically if I found out any brand was supporting causes I do not support and actively oppose, I will avoid buying their products.”—Female, 27, CA

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