The avocado report — media-wise, millennials are actually killing only one thing

Not Trump, because most of the American media is failing at playing its role as the Fourth State, nor Kim Jong-un either, because part of the Rest of the World media has chosen to advertise that so called antipropaganda — which was North Korea’s plan in the first place. These two — go figure — are safe for now. The real soulless murderers of everything we all deeply value in this life, from diamonds to sex, from napkins to wild wings (which, in this case, makes perfect sense), are millennials.

You’ve certainly heard about it: since that Time article, media companies and marketing consultancy specialists exhibit daily evidence to support this statement. Not exactly evidence: they use each other as witnesses to support this statement — some sort of mutual help that works like a prayer, in which they beg that millennials don’t kill them too.

There are so many reports out there that you (any-other-industry-trying-to-survive) will inevitably get lost. In fact, we are so passed that — this theme has already got to that phase in which ‘experts’ produce ‘funny’ content mocking all the millennials’ reports so they can look cool by these same millennials’ standards.

The "Generic Millennial Ad", by 'Dissolve', and the ultimate irony: millennials loved it

It is interesting, though, that both the ironic and the serious lists of everything kids are killing these days share some similarities: dinner dates, golf, department stores, gyms, 9-to-5 workday… It is even more interesting that one magical entity does not appear in any of those lists: media. Seemingly millennials would never kill newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, concerts, MP3 format, camcorders, blu-ray discs, point-and-shoot cameras…

For unknown reasons, another entity safe from Generation Y is the marketing consultancy business. Too bad millennials have decided to spare this pair of kings. It would’ve prevented anyone trying to decipher this generation from bumping into one of these two internet gems: the landing page of Future Cast, a marketing consultancy company which is “tired of trying to shout over the universe when an intimate dialogue was always the goal” — their words — and a compendium (in lack of a better word) set by British newspaper The Guardian.

According to Future Cast, whose president, Jeff Fromm, labels himself as “Millennial Marketing Guy” — seriously — , Generation Y can be described as people born between 1977 and 2000, making 25% of the US population and (my favorite) “known as content creators and users” because — again, their words — “46% of them post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created”. Like a selfie, I shall assume.

'The Guardian' has a lot to tell you about the topic: let’s call it a complex web of elements

It may come as a disappointment, but The Guardian’s approach is not much better than the one provided by Millennial Marketing Guy. At least the British paper saves you the trouble of googling random articles to learn about millennials — they have their own random articles (emphasis on random). As of today, October 9th, there are more than 50 links on the Guardian’s site, from which we have three pictures of people taking selfies, two pics of a bunch of kids shirtless, one photo of Lady Gaga and three titles featuring the word “narcissist”. Well, you got the profile.

The Guardian also brings its own famous ‘killing list’ wrapped in a 2016 story entitled “A hard sell: the industries that can’t get millennials buying”. “From insurers to carmakers, whole sectors are scratching their heads wondering how to market to Generation Skint”, wrote the newspaper, which, obviously, did not include itself in it.

Joon, the airline for this 2017 generation, and also "a fashion brand, a rooftop bar, a personal assistant…"

The art of (always) speaking on one’s behalf is just one of the many ways media (and marketing experts, after all they’re together in this) create some kind of illusion that benefits nobody. Not even themselves. First of all, because there is still a lot to fathom about the millennials market and, by consequence, a lot of room for bungling when you’re not getting them accurately (yes, like that new Air France affiliate bizarre commercial).

Moreover, a lot of the stereotype attributed to them (the self-absorbed behaviour and the plastic beach lifestyle for starters) is far from being Generation Y exclusive, and — get used to it — most of businesses perishing right now couldn’t make it anyway (or does it seem conceivable that Breastaurants like Hooter’s could still be a thing in 2017?).

But most importantly, digging deeper on the subject is advisable because millennials are actually killing something — at least, as far as media is concerned — and it’s huge: ownership. It doesn’t matter if it refers to that traditional physical format, as CDs, photo albums, magazines, blu-ray discs; or the digital ones, like MP3 files, MP4 movies and even JPG pictures — for them, the idea of a library, be it measured in inches or gigabytes, will only correspond to a lifetime of hassles.

There’s a catch though: ownership is a slick concept, which means these self-evident cases may point out to other not so obvious directions. Having a website, for example. Most millennials — ‘private individual’ or ‘legal entity’ — do not believe digital presence necessarily means owning a domain. There are much better ways of doing it (without the traditional YouTube channels, Medium directories, Instagram accounts… By the same token, they also won’t fall for the way Gen X does, so forget about bookmarks and go easy on the Subscription Manager Guy, he’s probably performing miracles at this point.

The new "millennial" Dropbox design: mixed feelings

Disabling the ownership mode also means being less attached to (media) brands, so millennials move on to the next (big, new or revamped) thing with zero remorse (and, above all, zero latency time). You (any-other-industry-trying-to-survive) may be thinking about Snapchat with some melancholy (while trying to remember your password), but this rule applies to pretty much any logo.

In fact, this rule may apply to any industry. Even an $88-billion-a-year one, like the mobile app industry. Not so long ago (the end of 2015, which means truly not so long ago), Apple thought (wished, frankly) “the future of TV” was apps. It wasn’t. Three years before that, Google projected Google Glass would be an $11 billion market by 2018, based on devices and apps sales. “Google’s API has encouraged developers to write apps specifically for the device. If Glass sees a hit that generates enthusiasm on the level of an Instagram or an Angry Birds, that will go a long way to making it a desired device with consumers”, envisioned Business Insider. Well, although the concept itself can still be promising, it is a zero dollar market.

There’s no point in saying millennials will include apps in their killing list, like they pretty much did with emails, phone calls, downloads and, if you get the irony here, computer software. But ownership is indeed a slick concept, and before you write me off as a madcap, it would be wise to notice that most of the recent devices unveiled by the big tech companies in the last two weeks have little focus on apps or don’t contemplate them at all. And in this self-absorbed world (not talking about the millennials…), being wise is the only move you (any-other-industry-trying-to-survive) should trust.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alexandre Botão

Two decades of hardcore journalism in a past life; now Digital Media PhD candidate @ University of Porto, coffee taster and vinyl aficionado