By Alison Hillhouse
Many have fallen prey to the narrative that Millennials choose to disengage with “real-world” experiences and spend 24/7 on technology. While we knew this wasn’t the case, we were surprised to find out just how much Young Millennials are actually seeking out hands-on, tech-free maker experiences, in our recent meta-study on the younger half of this demo. Whether it’s baking, crafting, woodworking or jewelry making, they tell us of the immense satisfaction they get from these immersive, self-soothing experiences.
But tech isn’t entirely removed from these maker experiences, as Millennials engage in what we call “Digital Bookending” – research & documenting the before & after. The making of a duct tape wallet (a hot craft right now among girls and guys) involves first watching a how-to YouTube video for instructions, then immersing yourself in the craft, and finally capping it off with an Instagrammed photo to express yourself/get credit for your work/connect with peers on a deeper level. (motivations of course vary…)
Three of our panelists tell us about their “Digital Bookending” experiences:
1) Alondra, 17, tells of her pop-art project, in which she first “looked at cool pop art pictures online… role models and important cultural figures.” She then chose to feature her role model Jenni Rivera, a famous Mexican-American singer whose life ended on Alondra’s birthday and recently wrote a #1 NY Times best-seller. Afterwards, she posted her creation to Instagram, where 68 friends were a fan of her work:
2) Gabrielle, 17, tells us about her duct tape prom dress, which took a whopping 100 hours of work! She says “I’ve always loved reptiles, and couldn’t think of a more awesome theme than dragons!” To prep her for the work, she went online and watched a Project Runway episode featuring duct tape dresses. Her process was very elaborate, including hand-cut flames and a wire-framed tail. Obviously, this was not only a sensation at the prom but also afterwards on Facebook.
3) Deven, 17, made a “plant cell cake.” He first went on YouTube to see how other people made cell models, and “observed how they structured and positioned various parts of the cell.” Deven also Instagrammed his final “Eukaryoptic Plant Cell.”
Brands can take advantage of “Digital bookending” by facilitating the before or after experience… whether that’s sponsoring DIY content or launching contests for Millennials to share creations.
"This is a street mural I saw on the side of a building in Brooklyn and a great example of Maker Culture. Create is what Millennials do best. Millennials are inspiring others to do, act, and create."
- Sarah McDowell, MTV Insights
By Sarah McDowell
I saw this outside The Counting Room, a popular bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The bar encouraged its patrons to step away from their social feeds and connect with each other on a more personal level instead.
By Alison Hillhouse
Millennials are the most talked about generation in history – the web is overflowing with articles and studies on Millennial underemployment, Millennial tech addiction and the intricacies of dealing with Millennials in the workplace. There’s so much conversation that we now see listicles and infographs about how everyone can’t stop talking about Millennials, like CNN’s “Can we stop worrying about Millennials yet?”
That’s why we’ve dedicated this post to letting Millennials speak for themselves, about themselves. MTV Insights partnered with Survey.com to get 250 18-24 year olds across the country to text us a picture + description that reflects the hashtag: #weliveinagenerationthat.
And here are some of our favorites…
By Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
When it comes to their love lives, we have found that Millennials often “run the bases backwards” — meaning that sex comes first, and relationships come second (if at all.) (See our previous post, “Love Stuck: The Meandering Path from Hook-Up to FBO”) This same pattern seems to apply among Gay Millennials – but with one important twist: For Gay Millennials, it appears that hook-ups very often lead to new friendships.
While straight Millennials tell us stories of casual hook-ups who tend to go their separate ways after failing to make the transition from hook-up to relationship, we hear from Gay Millennials that hooking up often serves as a casual opener to starting a new friendship.
Jacob, 22, explains “Almost every single gay guy that I know goes through the exact same pattern: You meet someone you think is cute, you hook up with him, and if it doesn’t turn into romance, you become friends.”
“All of my friends and I hooked up with each other and then became best friends,” says Domenic, 19, who told us that hooking up with gay classmates served as a social ice-breaker of sorts during his freshman orientation week at college. “When I got accepted to college, I joined the LGBT club for my school on Facebook…The first week of school we all slept with each other, and then we all became friends.”
Many of our panelists talk about how they have ended up with particularly “incestuous” social circles as a result of this behavior — meaning that many of their friends have dated or hooked up with each other in various combinations. Because gay communities are typically small (particularly within the college bubble) it’s often difficult to avoid an ex or former hook-up buddy. As a result, Gay Millennials seem to be making the best of a potentially awkward situation by viewing former hook-ups as potential new friends.
Jacob, 22, recalls “I was at a birthday party with a friend recently. We were looking around the room, and we realized that either one of us had hooked up with almost everyone who was there and had become friends with them… It’s almost universal among everyone I know.”
Although their social circles may be fraught with complicated overlapping connections, Gay Millennials fortunately have a large pool to draw from when it comes to looking for new potential friends or romantic partners. Whereas previous generations of gay youth congregated around local gay clubs or bars in order meet new people, many Gay Millennials now carry the proverbial gay bar with them in their pockets. Thanks to the advent of digital tools like Grindr – the massively popular gay geo-location app which helps you find potential hook-ups in your vicinity – Gay Millennials can easily tap into a fresh network of romantic or platonic possibilities.
For those who aren’t using hook-up apps like Grindr, however, even a tool as simple as Facebook can help expand the gay social circle. Many of the Gay Millennials we spoke to mentioned searching their Facebook networks when they first arrived at college in order to identify other gay classmates on-campus. (With the recent introduction of Facebook’s Graph Search, this type of search is now easier than ever before.) And even if you’re not looking for new gay friends, chances are they’ll find you as Steven, 22, explains “If you’re friends with any gay person on Facebook and you write on their wall, like 80 people will friend-request you.”
This is the third in a series of posts on Gay Millennials, in which we share our findings on the unique characteristics and experiences of this generation’s gay youth. Check out our previous posts in this series:
BY: Jillian Curran
What is the boobypack, you ask? The boobypack is an ‘upscale fannypack” created by Christina Conrad to revolutionize the festival-going experience and solve the problem…” Where to put my keys and wallet while fist pumping?!” MTV Insights often highlights Millennial businesses and we couldn’t pass up on this opportunity. After talking to Conrad, we realized just how much her business speaks to common traits of entrepreneurs of this generation.
When Life Gives You Skrillex, Make a Boobypack
Start with a passion. Many Millennial entrepreneurs tell us that their business evolved out of a passion or interest that they hoped would one day be their job. We found that 3 in 4 Millennials agree that even if they have a job, it’s important to have a side project, that could eventually become a career. Conrad is no exception, seeing the opportunity to optimize on a common problem she saw at her favorite festivals…the lost cell phone. She says, “ the Boobypack offers a fun, slightly silly solution that keeps your things safe. I wear a Boobypack whenever I go to the gym or a concert and it makes me feel completely free. It’s weird to think an item of clothing could change your psyche but it does.”
After her “AHA” moment, Conrad wasted no time. “One night when I was talking about this with my girlfriends, I thought of the name and the tagline– Boobypack, a top-shelf fannypack– and decided to run with the idea in the morning.” In today’s world, why let a good idea sit when starting a blog or creating a video is just a click away. Conrad admits it’s been a lot of responsibility so far, but is excited about the new opportunity. “Of course there’s something to be said for paying your dues and slowly climbing up the ladder, but I’m part of a generation that likes to move a lot faster.”
Crowdfund with a Twist
Make it creative and make it count. Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have been bombarded with young business owners who are innovating the elevator pitch. Making fun and creative content alongside a powerful business plan is how they are catching the eyeballs of their peers. They are also giving back. Knowing this relationship with their consumer is give and take, they are offering co-creative opportunities like being a part of the decision-making process, attending the launch party or even some out of the box incentives like “coming to your town and throwing a grilled cheese party”
Sites like Kickstarter offer a close connection with the customer which Millennials are striving for. They want to feel like they are impacting their audience and a real and authentic way, as 72% say they have a real desire to create things that other people love.
Millennials know the power the consumer has to virally bring ideas to the surface. Kickstarter can also act like a social media platform to bring attention to their pitch. Conrad says, “People who fund Kickstarter projects really believe in innovation and small startups and helping the little guy succeed….I pitched the Boobypack story to a bunch of different websites and magazines to no avail and then when we more than doubled our fundraising goal on Kickstarter, Jezebel picked up the story, then Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Perez Hilton, Barstool Sports and others followed suit.”
The Boobypack In Beta.
Put the product out there, and see what happens. A common mentality we see among young entrepreneurs is put it out there, get feedback and then iterate, iterate, iterate. In an ever-evolving world, they have a deep understanding of permanent beta, testing it with the audience as a partner and creating a product that is versatile. Keith Systrom, founder of Instagram echoes this sentiment saying, “Plan A is never the product that entrepreneurs end up with.”
The boobypack, although originally aimed at athletes and concert goers is actually serving customers Conrad never expected. “Diabetics have messaged me saying it’s a fantastic vessel for their insulin pumps. Backpackers and world travelers have told me it’s a great way to avoid pickpockets. How about a version where the pocket is completely water-proof? Or one where the pocket is made out of an e-textile and it would actually charge your phone? I love the idea of a company starting small and then growing organically into something truly noteworthy. So I hope that in 5-10 years Boobypack will be at a place where we are really surprising people.”
Check out Christina’s Booby Pack and her new Ambassador Program where those who sign up and refer customers, get a 10% revenue share in Boobypack.com. Boobypack has sold nearly 1,200 Boobypacks and after the Kickstarter and Fab.com sales they’ve completely sold out of inventory!
You can learn more about the Boobypack at:
And follow Christina Conrad and the Boobypack on TwitterL
By Stephanie Monohan
It is no secret that geek culture has gone mainstream. Millennials, especially those on the younger end of the generation, have grown up learning that not only is it acceptable to have obscure, niche, or “nerdy” interests; those things can actually make you really cool.
We’ve also been seeing a lot of creativity surrounding geek culture and fandom, with young fans expressing their love for beloved shows, movies, comics, etc. and getting lots of feedback. One can find Millennials sharing this blend of fandom and maker culture on sites like Tumblr, but some fans have taken their fandom creations to the next level by creating businesses around their fandom self-branding.
Ant Roman of Nerdache Cakes (photo from Seventeen Magazine)
Ant Roman, 20-year-old cake decorator and owner of Nerdache Cakes, is one such fan. In a recent piece from Seventeen Magazine, we read about this self-proclaimed fan of “Superheroes, British Detectives, Doctors who travel in the depths of Space and Elementary School Cartoons.” She tells MTV Insights that she was a super-fan before she started baking: “I was born with nerd passion. Comic books were a huge love of mine. Star Wars was big when I was a kid, along with Sailor Moon. Fighting evil in cute outfits was all I have ever wanted to do.”
As a Millennial with a natural bent towards crowd-sourcing, she accepts a weekly baking challenge from one of her online followers and attempts to recreate her favorite characters in sweet form. She says, “Every week it’s Star Wars cupcakes, TARDIS cookies, and classic comic cupcakes. I won’t look twice at a purse cake – not nerdy enough for me! It that purse has a Batarang and a lipstick gun, however, that’s a different story.”
Teen Wolf cake
Fans contribute to and interact with their favorite fandoms in a variety of creative ways, most frequently through artwork, fan fiction, videos, music, etc. Nerdache Cakes is such an interesting project because it is not simply a baking business with a twist, but also a creative fandom outlet for Roman: “We all have a way that we contribute to fandom. I guess cake is mine! It really does make you feel like you are a part of something larger, with people who really appreciate your work.”
Check out Ant Roman’s work at www.nerdachecakes.com and follow her on Twitter at @nerdachecakes
By Berj Kazanjian, MTV
Costumed Hunger Games fans at midnight premiere
Photo via Associated Press/Wire Images
With the Millennial generation, we’re seeing a dramatic shift in the consumption of movie entertainment to a more self-expressive, communal experience. It’s no longer unusual for friends to plan themed outfits for a midnight showing of the Hunger Games or reenact scenes on YouTube the following day. MTV Insights took a deep dive into the Millennial movie-going experience to understand where movies fit into the Millennial lifestyle.
We found that, for a generation that defines itself by content consumed, “liked”, or shared, movies offer Millennials a common language through which they can express their identities and their own experiences. The overarching theme was the communal and completely absorbed experience:
•A place where they can UNPLUG TO RECONNECT : Movies have become one of the final frontiers in which Millennials can disconnect and be focused, but still be entertained. Movies offer the opportunity to be totally absorbed in one thing while also feeling a connection to fellow moviegoers. 79% of Millennials agree that, “going to the movies is a great way to escape from my busy life” and 64% attend movies as a chance to “break away” from regular life.
•45% of Millennials agree that midnight screenings are “THE NEW ROCK CONCERT”: 47% of Millennials have gone to a midnight screening. Midnight screenings offer the Millennial movie-goer a firsthand connection to a communal environment – an experience of a common thread among strangers both online but more importantly, offline.
Photo courtesy of Business Insider
• RISE OF FANDOMS is another example of the creation of a community around a movie. We are seeing huge increases in movie clubs on Meetup and Facebook (over 1 million people on Meetup alone). These clubs have further enhanced the movie going experience by assisting in the creation of fan communities who share a common interest in movie type, genre, and series. These groups thrive off of the experience of opening weekend and midnight screenings. 58% of Millennials don’t mind being seen as a fanatic for their favorite star or movie.
Photo via The Examiner
The flip side of being included is being excluded. It’s time to talk about SPOILERS and MOVIE FOMO. Social media and other factors in the online world can be extremely helpful for Millennials who are trying to decide which movies to see in the theater. But the internet is also a source of anxiety – filled with potential spoilers.
Almost 7 out of 10 moviegoers planning to post to social media after seeing a really good or really bad movie. While this is good for generating buzz, it further enhances the Millennial’s fear of missing out and anxiety about an accidentally encountered spoiler. It also increases the desire to be the first to see a movie and the first post among friends. 53% of Millennials feel that, “it is important to see a movie if everyone is talking about it” and 64% agree that it’s “important to be able to say I saw it first (premiere showing moviegoers)”. It’s just as important for Millennials to not feel left out of a shared experience as it is for them to be a part of the shared experience.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Millennials & Movie Going” …
Digital Natives, Katniss Everdeen, and Exit Strategies: MTV’s Data-Driven Look At Young Millennials
By: Lydia Dishman
MTV Insights just published study, which shines a light on younger millennials ages 14-17, aims to make musicians, marketers, and media producers stand up and take notice of a group that’s poised to change the future.
Harry Potter may have legions of devotees, but he’s on his way out. At least as the unofficial mascot of younger millennials ages 14-17. He’s being replaced by Katniss Everdeen, the badass baroness of The Hunger Games, whose finely honed survival skills are much more relatable to a group of kids coming of age during economic turmoil, global political strife, and natural disasters. That’s the word that’s come out of MTV’s latest landmark generational study as the network takes a deep dive to understand the youth who will soon age into its sweet spot core target demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds.
The just published findings aim to illustrate all the ways that younger millennials differ from their older counterparts. Despite copious amounts of research, analysis, and criticism, most data portrays the generation as a monolithic block 80 to 90 million strong (depending on which dates you use), according to MTV Vice President of Insights and Innovation Alison Hillhouse. MTV’s study illuminated definitive differences based on data collected via in-home interviews, Instagram journals, and the digital diaries of 1,800 younger millennials, as well as “what they were organically posting online,” she says. Focus groups with their older siblings, other older millennials, and a cadre of gen-Xer and boomer parents rounded out the study.
Based on the previous research MTV Insights put forth in 2010 and 2011, the New Millennials study shows a significant shift in attitudes and approach to ambition, parents, and technology, says Hillhouse. Thanks to events such as the Arab Spring and the Boston Marathon shootings, Hillhouse notes that about a third of young millennials say they routinely plot out escape plans when attending concerts or sports at stadiums. “They are not completely freaked out,” she observes. “[They believe] this is just the world we live in, and I need to be prepared.”
Likewise, their more pragmatic attitude is programmed in by gen-X parents, as opposed to the more idealistic boomer cohorts. Forget the boundless optimism of the first wave of millennials (now in their twenties). Without the boost of an economic boom and the reality that college costs continue to rise, even though a degree doesn’t ensure employment, much less success, younger millennials agreement with the statement “If I want to do something, no one is going to stop me” decreased from 71% in 2010 to 57% this year.
Gone, therefore, are the starry-eyed arts and humanities students. Hillhouse says they’ve been replaced by teens who’ve done the research and identified very specific career paths. One 17-year-old declared she wanted to work for the USDA as an entymologist studying insects that destroy the ecosystem, Hillhouse points out. Their parents commented that it’s not them but the teens themselves who put the pressure on to compete, stand out, and succeed. Some 69% of teens surveyed agreed. (Note to parents: This may have an added benefit: 68 percent of teens find that you’re like a best friend, compared with 58% three years ago.)
“They also have these random niche interests,” Hillhouse observes, such as the 13-year-old who was all too eager to discuss her proprietary vampire stakes. She’s made five different kinds to tackle very specific species of bloodsuckers. “She wasn’t trying to sell them,” recalls Hillhouse with a wry laugh, “But we do see many [younger millennials] making their own crafts and selling online.”
The Web and social media has certainly greased the wheels for these younger digital natives to explore such specific interests. With less adult supervision, this group of online “latch-key kids” have learned to filter disturbing or inappropriate content and have taken to conscious curation of social networks in search of privacy. The concept of self-branding is evident in teen’s social media feeds such as Tumblr, yet fewer young millennials (49% versus 58% in 2010) believe “what I post online defines who I am.”
Though it may be a bit too early to tell, says Hillhouse, it’s “not out of the realm of possibility” that the study’s findings will begin to influence the future of MTV’s programming. Two years ago, for example, when participants’ responses reinforced older millennials’ desire to see shows featuring more smart, funny female leads, that led to the development of shows such as Awkward, Live with Nikki and Sara, and Girl Code.
Results also played a part in how MTV markets shows to build successful franchises. Promoting season three of the popular Teen Wolf series began the day the finale of season two aired and kicked off a 365-day engagement plan to cultivate and reward the show’s “superfans,” notes Hillhouse.
Using creative tactics such as a call and response that brought 100 pounds of cookies to the Teen Wolf set, Teen Wolf’s social footprint grew exponentially while the show was off the air, increasing Facebook fans by 33% to 2.4 million, Twitter followers by 41%, and its Tumblr presence by 143%.
Hillhouse notes that music video production may experience a shift in order to play to this unique audience. She points out the popularity of Arcade Fire’s personalized approach to its interactive video set to the track “We Used to Wait.” “The Wilderness Downtown,” melded music with Google Maps to incorporate viewers‘ hometowns into the imagery. “It’s about giving (listeners) a role and voice,” Hillhouse contends.
This article originally appeared on FastCo.Create
Nev Schulman, left, and Max Joseph from “Catfish: The TV Show.” MTV attributes the show’s success to younger millennials.
Longing to Stay Wanted, MTV Turns Its Attention to Younger Viewers
By AMY CHOZICK
Published: June 17, 2013 - NYTimes.com
TRYING to win over a fickle teenager isn’t easy. Trying to win over millions of them every night is — as the kids say — cray cray.
But that’s exactly what MTV has had to do since its inception in the 1980s as the cable channel for disenchanted youth.
“Unlike other brands that get a lock on the audience and age with them, we have to shed our skin and reinvent ourselves,” said Stephen K. Friedman, president of MTV.
The channel is in the process of shedding its skin again, this time to appeal to viewers age 14 to 17 who have different preferences than the 18- to 25-year-olds who make up the older portion of the millennial generation (a cohort born roughly between 1981 and 2000 and also known as Generation Y or the Facebook Generation).
On Tuesday, MTV will introduce its latest deep dive into generational behavior: a nationwide study of 1,800 “young millennials.” The findings will be presented to marketers and MTV programmers to help show how the channel and its sponsors can speak to the younger end of the audience.
These younger viewers grew up looking up to Katniss Everdeen, the gritty heroine from “The Hunger Games,” rather than Harry Potter, the study says. Older millennials were told by their baby boomer parents that “they were special and gifted, with a magic wand capable of changing the world” and “the world is your oyster.” The Generation X parents who are raising this younger crop of millennials tell them “you have to create your own oyster,” the MTV study says.
Generational studies have been pivotal to MTV’s past success. Faced with double-digit declines in ratings in 2008, the channel embarked on an immense research project to try to understand the country’s roughly 80 million millennials and, in turn, to get them to want their MTV.
That study helped inform hits like “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom” and by 2010, ratings among MTV’s core audience of 12- to 34-year-olds had increased by 24 percent to 895,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
“Candidly, we were hanging onto Gen Xers a little too long,” said Mr. Friedman, who called the 2008 research “a wake-up call.”
Last year, the average number of prime-time viewers age 12 to 34 fell 23 percent, to 834,000, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen. (Jason Rzepka, senior vice president for brand communications and public affairs at MTV, pointed out that online streaming had affected nightly ratings, but that the channel remained the most watched basic cable channel among viewers 12 to 24.)
The new study, called “Young Millennials Will Keep Calm & Carry On,” comes at a turning point for MTV. “Jersey Shore,” the channel’s highest rated series ever, ended in December after six seasons. Around the same time, the channel began to notice shifts in behavior and tastes among younger viewers.
“Catfish: The TV Show,” a documentary series about online dating that had its premiere last year, emerged as a surprise hit with an average of 3.2 million viewers an episode and was the highest-rated premiere for an 11 p.m. series. MTV has attributed the show’s popularity, in part, to this younger demographic.
Alison Hillhouse, the vice president of MTV Insights who oversaw the study, said 14- to 17-year-olds were even more comfortable with social media and technology than their older siblings. She calls them “digital latchkey kids” because their hands-off Generation X parents have largely left them alone to navigate the Web.
Unlike the “Yes We Can” optimistic older millennials, this younger group of teenagers has a raised awareness of economic problems, MTV says.
“At age 13 they know they won’t find their dream job right away,” Ms. Hillhouse said. More than three-quarters of 14- to 17-year-olds interviewed said, “I worry about the negative impact that today’s economy will have on me or my future.”
Viacom, the parent company of MTV, is known for its in-depth audience research and for matching that research with marketers’ needs. MTV will take its latest findings to advertisers like Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Pepsi to help inform them about what type of ads will work on this more pragmatic group of teenagers.
“There’s always the research people at the table that helps us really ground the ideas in insight,” said Claudia Cahill, chief content officer at OMD, part of the Omnicom Media Group unit of the Omnicom Group. Ms. Cahill serves as the intermediary between MTV and brands like Pepsi, Hewlett-Packard and State Farm.
Research played a role in Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign on MTV and its sister channel, VH1, Ms. Cahill said.
“Marketers who aren’t of this generation have to use tactics to get these teenagers involved,” she said.
The trick for MTV will be to not rely too heavily on cultural anthropology. Skeptics of MTV’s approach say a research-based algorithm could never lead to the alchemy of Madonna in a conical bra, the couch-side cackles of “Beavis and Butt-head” or the first season of “The Real World,” when viewers got a first glimpse at “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.”
MTV will be taking its findings to writers and producers, but Mr. Friedman says he wants the findings to inform creators, rather than dictate what they create. Research, he says, is not brought into the development process until the channel tests pilots with focus groups.
“It’s a marriage of science and art, and you don’t want to underestimate the importance of the art,” Mr. Rzepka of MTV said.