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Experience is top for Millennials

News, 11 February 2015

LONDON: Twenty years ago, possession of the latest gadget or CD might have been a talking point among the younger generation, but for Millennials experience is paramount according to new research.

Bauer Media, owner of a range of youth-related brands across print, online, radio and music TV, undertook a year-long research project among 16-34 year olds which included workshops and in-depth interviews.

One of the major findings, The Drum reported, was that 71% of Millennials agreed that "I'd rather tell people about something I've done than something I've got".

Bauer insight and research director Martin Diamond suggested this signalled an important change in outlook.

"People are less likely now to shout about their new MacBook," he said. "Experience is increasingly valued and potentially this can be more important than ownership."

In fact, said The Drum, a "unique, fleeting and personal" experience is the Millennials' ultimate bespoke status symbol.

Matt Boffey, founder of innovation consultancy London Strategy Unit, noted that the trend to giving greater value to experiences was not restricted to Millennials but added that as digital natives they were more likely to commoditise those experiences.

"The ability to document, upload and share (aka 'showing off') further enhances the value of experience," he said.

Another factor Boffey highlighted was the way the mind processes information. "Things get worse over time while experiences get better," he observed. "The brain finds it easier to recall good times, so great experiences become self-reinforcing."

But marketers should avoid attempting to manufacture an artificial experience and instead build it into what Millennials are already doing – a prime example being Malibu's 'Best Summer Ever' campaign.

This saw the rum brand challenge five strangers to take a 40-day trip together in an RV across Europe and Florida, visiting various summer events and sharing their experiences on YouTube.

Lise Pinnell of AnalogFolk, the agency behind this campaign, emphasised the need for brands to respond when consumers co-created. "We need to put them at the heart of our feedback loops – and that's when they'll know we care," she said.

Warc's Toolkit 2015 also notes the heightened expectations that Millennials have of brands and the key role that marketing departments should play in defining and delivering on brand purpose.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff