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

“My work schedule can be hectic, so I snack on nuts, berries, or other non-deadly foods during any downtime.”

—Male, 32, KY

AwesomenessTV and fashion/beauty brands are coming together to make branded series for Gen Z. In the past, AwesomenessTV has worked with numerous brands to produce original content, including CoverGirl and Kohl’s. Now they’re planning a 24-part docu-series with Hollister called “This is Summer,” following teens’ high school journeys—while they’re clad in shoppable Hollister clothing of course. Our own Chief Content Officer explains that Ypulse has “found Gen Z to be fairly open to watching sponsored entertainment,” with 77% of 13-17-year-olds agreeing, "As long as the story is interesting, I don't mind that it is sponsored." (Glossy)

Fullscreen agrees that Gen Z is the generation that’s most receptive to branded content. Their survey found over half of Gen Z doesn’t mind even undisclosed branded content, and significantly more Gen Z teens than Millennials have engaged with social branded content (viewing photos, liking and sharing content and tagging friends) in the past six months. Influencer marketing wins out with the group, with over half of teens preferring influencer content to pre-roll, sponsored posts, banners, and traditional TV commercials. The sweet spot for advertisers may be branded video, especially when influencers are involved. (TubefilterAdweek)

Graduation spending is expected to reach a record $5.6 billion for the Class of 2017. Over half of the graduation gifts given will be cash, followed by greeting cards, gift cards, apparel, and electronic devices. Another trend for the year is more and more peers giving each other gifts, with a 6% lift year over year. Younger consumers will spend an average of $78.42 ,compared to 45-54-year-olds’ $119.84 and 65-and-over’s $112.34, and while greeting cards are also most popular, they’re also almost twice as likely to gift clothing. (ConsumerAffairs)

Instagram has the “most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing,” followed by Snapchat, according to a recent study. The image-centric platforms could “driv[e] feelings of inadequacy and anxiety,” and were rated the most poorly for their impacts on sleep, FOMO, and body image. Out of the top five most popular social media platforms, YouTube was the only one that earned a positive score. The silver lining? Some argue the evaluation is “blaming the medium for the message,” and social media/online communities are also Gen Z and Millennials’ top resource for learning about “mindfulness, meditation, and wellness,” according to Ypulse data. (The Guardian)

Lego is being called the “most powerful brand in the world,” beating out Google, Visa, and Nike. Brand Finance’s latest valuation report shows Lego’s brand value increased 68% over last year, looking at metrics like “familiarity, loyalty, promotion, marketing investment, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.” At least some of the lift can be attributed to the successful movie franchise (The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie) and its strategic partnership with Star Wars.

(Business Insider)

“I kind of don't like the commercialization of fandom culture…However, creating licensed products is one way a brand could interact.”

—Male, 24, MO

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