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How much time did you say Millennials spend on the media? Really? Wow.

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The most stunning finding from Ipsos Media’s new study on social media is that Millennials spend an average of 17.8 hours a day perusing (if that’s the right word) the media.

Assuming they must sleep at some point, that means that nearly all of Millennials’ waking hours are spent looking at or listening to a smartphone, tablet, computer, radio, movie or T.V. screen or even the printed page!

How do they find the time to do anything else?

The actual point of the study was about user-generated content (UGC), a buzzword that, according to Wikipedia, entered mainstream use in 2005. Wikipedia says “The advent of user-generated content marked a shift among media organizations from creating online content to providing facilities for amateurs to publish their own content.” So, for example, anything that lets you put information out there on the Internet (a blog, Twitter, Instagram) is an example of UGC.

It’s clearly cheaper for media organizations to have users create content, rather than for the corporations to have to pay for it. On the downside is the fact that UGC sites cannot charge nearly as much for advertising that sites (usually bricks-and-mortar) charge. This is why we see Facebook and Twitter constantly trying out new ways of sneaking ads into our feeds.

The study’s authors report that 53% of Millennials say UGC influences their buying decisions, compared to 44% who trust traditional media more. Of that 53%, nearly three-quarters (74%) say their most “trustworthy” form of UGC is “conversations with friends/family” (although, to me, a “conversation” with actual people isn’t really an example of user-generated content. Am I missing something?) Anyhow, that compares with only 44% who find “print magazines or newspapers” to be trustworthy.

That will come as welcome news to my friends who are steeped deeply into social media. It means, for instance, that a Millennial who’s looking to buy a bottle of wine will give more credence to a “conversation with family/friends” than a recommendation in a wine magazine.

Well, duh. I’m sure that’s true for most people who buy a bottle of wine. Wine magazines and wine columns in newspapers aren’t for everyone, they’re for people whose interest in wine has risen above a certain base level. These folks may not realize it, but if they’re listening to a wine recco from a magazine or newspaper, they have officially dipped one toe into the Sea of Geekdom. Hey, dive right in, the water’s warm and comforting!

It’s interesting to note from the study that, while we tend to associate Millennials with online social media and not so much with television, they actually watch quite a bit of the boob tube. While 71% of them report daily use of social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), nearly as many—60%–watch live TV everyday. And may I be so bold as to suggest that a momentary glimpse of their Facebook feed pales in comparison to watching a 30-minute TV program. That suggests that wine companies might consider advertising on the TV shows that Millennials watch, but (cf. my reference above to advertising), most wineries could never even begin to advertise on Colbert or the Daily Show.

I suppose the challenge for wineries today is the same as it was six years ago when I began blogging: How do you get Millennials (or anyone else) to recommend your wines to their friends and followers? That’s the million-dollar question. No one’s yet figured out the answer. While they’re trying to, I suggest wineries continue to send samples to the top print critics and other tastemakers. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

  1. Steve, those hours are calculated as an aggregate of total media (the study basically includes everything but meditation as media!). So, checking email on a computer, scrolling Twitter on a phone, chatting to your SO and having the news on in the background for 30 minutes while having coffee counts as 2 total hours. How often do you spend by yourself with no one around, no print publication, no phone, no computer or no TV in front of you? When you combine the fact that people are often viewing multiple devices, and when media hours are not mutually exclusive, you can quite easily get to 18 hours. That’s not that high when you really think about it.

  2. Hi Steve-

    One of the things I’ve seen both food companies and retailers doing is reaching out and providing samples of their product to bloggers with a large millenial social following. I believe this will be continue to be an important place for companies to attract the millenial generation. The issue with marketing on TV is the advent of on-demand television. Several of us now have the ability to skip over all the commercials and get straight to the content when we want it.

  3. “How do you get Millennials (or anyone else) to recommend your wines to their friends and followers?” Make good wine and don’t charge too much for it. I’d like my million dollars now, please. :)

  4. Dear Jessyca, please send me your mailing address on the back of a $10 million bill, and I’ll get your million dollar check to you asap!

  5. Steve,

    One other point about the survey: It is based on analyzing responses from 839 ONLINE participants. It is as valid as me polling what wine pfolk prefer when they visit my tasting room and publishing “survey results” saying that wine lovers prefer Syrah over any other variety.

    I also agree with Kyle that in aggregate, 18 is not that much. I know folk who continue to get FB feed on their phone when they go to sleep!

  6. Someday we will all be conscious for 15 minutes.

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