Taking the Long View: Millennial Disadvantage Relative to Other Generations

Marketers often focus on very short-term trends. After all, it is important to keep up with the newest of the new. Fashions come and go with increasing rapidity, and the shift from “in” to “out” always makes for good copy in magazine articles and television or radio news features. But sometimes the most important stories are those that result from taking ten steps back and looking at the big picture told by long-term trends. These kinds of analyses are more likely to be the province of demographers or economists, but they also deserve the attention of marketers trying to understand the attitudes and worldviews of their customers.

Trend data compiled by the Pew Center show why Millennials are worse off than their parents. Pew’s approach uses one of the best tools of demography, a “cohort analysis.” This compares, say, 18- to 33-year-olds today with 18- to 33-year-olds of earlier generations, e.g. how does the employment profile of Millennials of 2014 compare to that of Gen Xers in 1998, Baby Boomers in 1980, or Silent Generation folks in 1963?

The resulting picture is not very pretty. Whereas nearly 80% of the young males of the prior generations were employed, the level for Millennial males was a notch below 70%. Boomers had a homeownership rate of about 37% in 1981 and Gen Xers had about the same homeownership rate in 2000, but Millennials in 2016 had only a 24% homeownership rate. The average level of student loan burden rose 63% from 2006 to 2016, with average debt levels now standing around $35,000. However, the odds have gotten longer of having sufficient earnings to repay those loans.

A similarly downbeat view emerges from a recent long-view analysis just published by the venerable Population Reference Bureau. “Losing Ground: Young Women’s Well Being Across Generations in the United States” documents a number of adverse long-term trends. If not always a case of losing ground, the report at least suggests stalled progress.

The PRB’s long-view analysis of generational trends are not all bleak. Women’s educational attainment continues to rise, with more women completing high school and college than in previous generations. But that has not translated directly into higher wages; indeed, the report finds that women need to notch higher educational achievements to earn at the same level as men. That said, the gender gaps in earnings and in business ownership have narrowed as each younger generation has progressed through the life course.

Many trends really do come and go quickly. However, it is prudent to also keep an eye on the bigger demographic and economic trend lines that affect everyone and that, in many subtle ways, influence the hopes and frustrations and expectations of our broad population.

Scott McDonald, Ph.D. (2017, Nov. 14). Taking the Long View: Millennial Disadvantage Relative to Other Generations. Forbes.

Overcoming Biases Key to Successfully Engaging the Aging Consumer Market

Research from Jeff Weiss, President and CEO, Age of Majority, focuses on the assumptions and practices from 202 marketing professionals against the attitudes and behavior of more than 1,200 American adults with respect to engaging the aging consumer market.

Four key barriers hold marketers back from effectively engaging the age 55+ market, and the truth behind related ageist myths stereotypes:

Marketers underestimate the spending power of consumers 55+ and over-estimate the spending of millennials. Nearly 9 in 10 (86%) marketers overestimate how much consumers under the age of 35 spend and nearly three quarters (72%) underestimate how much consumers 55 and older spend. Nielsen data tells us that, despite representing more than 40% of all consumer spending, consumers 50+ are the target of only 10% of U.S. ad spending.

Marketers perceive that older consumers won’t try new things or are too brand loyal. Nine in 10 (92%) marketers believe consumers 50+ are less likely to switch brands, yet on average, more than half (52%) of consumers 55+ vs. 61% of consumers under 55 are open to switching brands the next time they shop.

Marketers fret that targeting older consumers will alienate younger consumers. We found 50% of marketers believe consumers under 35 will feel alienated if their brand targets older consumers, yet two-thirds (65%) of consumers say that seeing someone much older in an ad would not change their likelihood to purchase.

Marketers default to a youth-size-fits-all approach, assuming that millennial-oriented marketing will appeal to consumers 55+ and that younger consumers set the trends for older consumers. The reality is older consumers aren’t looking for inspiration from the younger set. Fewer than half of Americans (48%) agree that people over 50 aspire to be younger or to stay young. There’s a good chance millennial-oriented marketing is missing the mark with mature consumers, given 73% of consumers 55+ feel marketers are not engaging them effectively.

Despite the extent to which marketers don’t understand older consumers this is not to say they are oblivious to the value of the aging consumer market – 84% of marketers report wanting to target consumers 50+ more effectively than they do today.

Jeff Weiss. (2017, Nov. 22). Overcoming Biases Key to Successfully Engaging the Aging Consumer Market. [Commentary]. MediaPost.

Where is B2B Media Going? It’s Anyone’s Guess

The B2B publishing and information industry, like the greater media ecosystem as we know it, is in the midst of an inexorable, irreversible, and unrelenting period of change.

That was about the only thing universally agreed upon over three days of refreshingly honest exchanges among several of business media’s most high-profile executives and strategists.

Debra Walton, Global Managing Director of Thomson Reuters’ 4,000-employee-strong financial and risk division, outlined a handful of major trends her company anticipates will most impact the business information industry going forward.

Among them: companies must be prepared to handle ever larger amounts of data (by some estimates as much as 20-times more by 2020); greater regulatory oversight of the way companies collect data, particularly from individuals (the upcoming implementation of GDPR, despite applying only to residents of the European Union, loomed like a shadow over many of the conference’s discussions); disruptive tech, like cloud computing and artificial intelligence; and “millennial ways of thinking,” such as the fact that young people hate paying for information they can access for free elsewhere.

Asked how the panelists were adapting, Scott Mozarsky, Legal Division President, Bloomberg BNA, said salespeople need to take on a more consultative role and be well-versed enough in data to sell products like visualization or segmentation tools. “Every aspect of the organization needs to change,” added Ethan Eisner, VP, ReedTech. “We’re now entering categories that didn’t even exist before. It’s a whole new way of selling.”

Hanley Wood, CEO, Peter Goldstone said he views his company’s database as its most valuable asset, but noted that a similar disconnect seems to exist between marketers’ perceptions of print and the ways in which people actually consume content.

Greg Dool. (2017, Nov. 16). Where is B2B Media Going? It’s Anyone’s Guess. Folio:.

Time to Ditch A/B Testing?

Simple A/B testing of digital search ads should be retired in favour of a multi-level option that is now enabled by ad rotation, according to a leading Google executive.

Matt Lawson, Director of Performance Ads Marketing, Google, explained that optimized rotation of ads allows marketers to have more ads present in an ad group and increase their chances of finding the right match across all of the variables that Google AdWords considers.

“Going from one ad to a minimum of three ads in an ad group can give that ad group up to a 5% to 15% lift on average in both impressions and clicks (with incremental uplift for each additional creative),” he stated.

He suggested that users could test one ad (A) against an experiment ad group with four ads (A, B, C and D) with rotation set to optimized. So instead of finding a “winner” and scrapping the “loser”, users “should plan on having options A, B, C and D all active at any given time” with an ad only being deleted when it generates minimal clicks at which point it can be replaced with a new one.

Lawson also cautioned against focusing on CTR (click-through rate) to assess an ad’s effectiveness. “CTR alone can be misleading because ads show on all sorts of queries in all sorts of contexts,” he pointed out. “There’s no way to control for all of the different devices, locations, situations and everything else that goes into one action.” Accordingly, he recommended using ad group-level metrics, including impressions, clicks, conversions, and CTR.

Sourced from Search Engine Land; Additional Content by WARC Staff. (2017, Nov. 27). Time to Ditch A/B Testing? WARC.

Radio (AM/FM) Listening Behavior 2Q2017 – Nielsen

The chart below was generated by 24-hour listening data among Adults 18+. From a tailored list of twenty mutually exclusive formats, Country and News/Talk were the most popular, together accounting for over 25% of all listening.

Top 20 Radio Formats Ranked by Share of Total Listening
Source: Nielsen National Regional Database, Spring 2017, M-SU, 6AM-MID, Adults 18+, AQH Share

  • Most AM/FM radio listening is spent with just one station, the listeners’ favorite station.
  • Radio formats are tailored to reach a large group with a common interest.

Nielsen: Radio Listening Peaks in May And April. (2017, Nov. 17). InsideRadio.

Winston Binch, Chief Digital Officer, Deutsch North America is Interviewed by Scott McDonald, CEO & President, ARF

David Ogilvy – “Research has saved me from some terrible mistakes. It’s given me the courage to sometimes run a campaign which I thought would have flopped.”

Scott: What would you say to students starting out right now in the business that would be the best way to open themselves up to the lightbulb – to the insight that sparks?

Winston: The insight is everything … Without a strong insight idea, you’re never going to get to anything provocative that’s going to turn [the consumer’s] head. And advertising has to be head turning … And creativity is messy – it’s chaotic as we talked about. Ultimately, I really believe it is creativity that wins, it is the answer to most business problems.

Scott: Talk a bit about what the ARF David Ogilvy Awards represent to you, and why you think it is part of the advertising ecosystem.

Winston: What I like about this [awards show] is that insight is at the core of it, but it also about the research that goes into it … We want to celebrate great case studies and teach.

Scott and Winston also discuss a case study for Taco Bell capitalizing on market trend connections that research was able to uncover.

Watch the full interview.

The Always-On Shopper: Grocery Isn’t Dead, It’s at Your Doorstep ARF Shopper Insights Event in Chicago

Three key takeaways from the event:

  • Online grocery shopping is growing, but brick & mortar stores aren’t dead: Data from GfK’s 2017 FutureBuy study showed that while 1 in 4 grocery shoppers are purchasing online, still more than 95% of them are buying groceries, health & beauty, and OTC pharmaceutical products in brick & mortar stores. NPD Group showed that still 3/4ths of retail dollars are spent in physical stores.
  • Shoppers appreciate the value of online, but still prefer the “touch & feel” of shopping in-store: Not quite half of shoppers appreciate the “touch & feel” of buying products in-stores, according to GfK. And that benefits retailers with large physical footprints. InfoScout data from a KraftHeinz case study shows that the proximity of Walmart encourages a stop at the local store. But shoppers also recognize the value and money-saving benefits of shopping online. Whether it’s convenience, selection, or comparing prices, online shopping is now offering the benefits that large retailers used to own. However, delivery fees remain a hurdle for some online shoppers, and physical retailers are exploiting that resistance with expanded “click & collect” offerings.
  • Data remains key to making that critical connection to the shopper: Great data and great insight are still key to connecting with and inspiring shoppers to act. Our expert panel from Coca-Cola, KraftHeinz, and InfoScout reiterated that whether it’s digital or brick & mortar shopping, having the right data to understand the why behind the buy helps them meet shopper needs in all channels. And as presenters from IRI and 84.51º demonstrated, great data helps customize the retail message across all media, and allows retailers to personalize pricing strategies to maximize sales.

View event summary, presentations and videos.

Journal of Advertising Research Paper – “Advertising Appeals, Moderators, and Impact on Persuasion: A Quantitative Assessment Creates a Hierarchy of Appeals”

On the basis of a large and unique dataset using comparative meta-analysis, this study provides measures of the relative impact of seven types of appeals. Meta-regression was used to test whether certain moderators can explain the variability in effect sizes.

Among the conclusions:

  • The overall correlation between message appeal and consumer response was positive.
  • The study found notable and significant differences among the seven appeals; the effect of sex appeal was the highest, followed by humor and comparative appeals.
  • All else being equal, consumers responded to emotional appeals more favorably than to rational appeals.
  • Television advertising influenced advertisement liking more than magazines, newspapers, and radio in all significant models.
  • More recent studies obtained greater positive attitudes.

Read the entire paper.

Industry Leaders Share Strategies for Earning Consumer Attention

“Our research shows that consumers are getting impatient and are shifting their attention from one source to another at a faster pace than ever before. For brands, it means the bar continues to rise. Research shows being useful and relevant is the only way to get consumers to tune-in. Brands should also prioritize platforms that have content people are actually looking for versus just finding in a feed, as lean in platforms grab higher attention.”
– Kate Sirkin, EVP, Analytics and Insights, Publicis Media

“Digital can no longer be a one-size-fits-all, repurposed afterthought. Nowhere do consumers expect relevancy more than in digital. The brands that are winning are thinking about all the iterations of creative they need to deliver personal and relevant messages.”
– Helen Lin, President of Digital Investment, Publicis Media

“To grab users’ attention, you really have to tailor your creative to each platform. You can’t be focused on one piece of creative for one platform, and not think about how to make it most effective across the ecosystem. One way we do that is by giving our creatives access to real-time data to optimize performance in flight—not after.”
– Gail Horwood, SVP Integrated Marketing, Kellogg Company

“When it comes to capturing and holding attention, there isn’t one ad format to rule them all. On YouTube, for example, it’s not just that a bumper ad allows for different storytelling than a skippable unit or a forced 15-second ad, but that one story can be told across ad units through sequencing and targeting. This approach allows each ad format to work to its abilities without having to cram the whole world into one place.”
– Kim Snow, Creative Director, Google

“To capture attention, we avoid creating all the content for a campaign at once. As marketers, we spend a lot of time in conference rooms. We’d rather understand the feedback from the audience bit by bit. In that way, we take consumer response and create content off of it that’s personal and relevant.”
– Heather Warnke, Director of Marketing, John Frieda

Anderson, M. (2017, Nov). 5 Industry Leaders Share Strategies for Earning Consumer Attention. Think with Google.

ANA 2017 Multicultural Awards

“Restroom for All”, a campaign created for Mastercard by McCann New York, walked off with best-in-show honors at the ANA 2017 Multicultural Excellence Awards.

You can view two visuals here.

Citations were also given in a dozen categories (courtesy of WARC):

  • African-American: Ford, “Shopping,” UWG (UniWorld Group)
  • Asian: Xoom, “XoomLOL Comedy Series,” Keyframe, Inc.
  • Audio: Comcast/Xfinity, “Language Choice 2.0,” GALLEGOS United
  • Business-to-Business: Prudential, “Real Time Event Polling,” Prudential Advertising
  • Digital, Social, and Mobile: Netflix (Narcos), “Spanish Lessons,” ALMA DDB
  • Experiential Marketing: Square Enix, “Human by Design,” Liquid Advertising
  • Hispanic: Sprint, “Greatest Hits,” ALMA DDB
  • LGBT: MasterCard, “Restroom for All,” McCann New York
  • People with Disabilities: Jockey International, “Show ’em What’s Underneath,” Pure Growth
  • Print: Comcast/NBC Universal, “Passing the Torch,” Burrell Communications
  • Total Market: Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Motrin), “#Women in Progress,” J. Walter Thompson
  • Significant Results: Diageo (Buchanan’s), “Es Nuestro Momento,” Anom

Mastercard takes top prize at ANA Multicultural Awards. (2017, Nov. 6). WARC.