According to Marketing Land, millennials are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers; they will account for $3.39 trillion in annual spending by 2018 (up from $2.45 trillion in 2015), and by 2025 they will make up three-quarters of the global workforce.
This momentous transition is only matched by the extent to which marketers and advertisers are failing to keep pace with developments. 32% of millennials claim they do not like advertising, and only 17% of millennials have made a purchase because of a TV ad. Fewer millennials are watching TV, and they have a tendency to prefer online subscription services such as Netflix, or free video services such as YouTube. 24% of millennials believe that technology is what makes their generation unique.
The boffins over at Facebook, while they might not be aware of these exact figures, have been studiously taking notes on the vicissitudes of the millennial generation. They know that millennials are more sceptical of pay-per-click advertisements, and that marketers targeting millennials have to incorporate an extra dimension of interactivity.
Having observed the popularity of Snapchat, Facebook purchased Instagram in April 2012. Since then, they have taken further gambles on the millennial generation by hiring the 19-year-old app developer, Michael Sayman, to spearhead their latest project: Lifestage.
Statistics show that, while millennials are still surfing the web to ride some of the same waves as the previous generation – TV shows and movies are still the most popular visual formats – they also have a distinct yearning to rip the white tides of more ephemeral, user-generated content.
Snapchat has created some of the most innovative, memorable, and viral marketing campaigns of the decade. By using ad filters, Snapchat has given users the opportunity to wear a taco for a mask (Taco Bell Advertisement), to pour McDonalds fries all over themselves, and to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a Jameson’s whisky filter.
Lifestage is set to be a sort of gamified Snapchat – users will earn points and increase rankings by continually generating new content – and it will include a variety of filters to emote and to provide backdrops to videos.
One can easily anticipate an advertising strategy akin to that of Snapchat, where adverts are made into interactive filters, and thereby converted from something impersonal to a unique, interactive, user-generated video.
Lifestage targets younger millennials with the use of an age restriction: users over the age of 21 will not be able to view any profile other than their own. Furthermore, the app will link into a network of schools across the world, giving users the ability to meet up and document their lives in the school, thereby creating a USP for a generation whose social-media preferences are geared towards more private, cohesive, and specialised platforms. For years, younger millennials have preferred Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp to the Facebook of their parents and grandparents. Lifestage should give Zuckerberg, and advertisers, another finger in the ever-expanding millennial pie – whether it will be successful or not remains to be seen.