A new study of the Millennial generation reveals a combination of the expected as well as some insights that may not be so obvious. But, whatever your assumptions, there are two takeaways that suggest the music industry hasn't been fully responding to the opportunities at hand. These involve Millennials' interest in "safer adventures" and their responsiveness to cause marketing.
Barkley's Millennial Research includes the new report "American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation" (PDF) created in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group and SMG.
The report clarifies that Millennials in the U.S. are more diverse than often pictured and that the findings focus on broad attributes. That should be a reminder that niches always exist that escape the mainstream and are ripe for engagement.
"American Millennials" defines the Millennial generation in the largest range possible including those born from 1977 to 2000. However they focus on those born from 1977 to 1995 covering the age range of 16 to 34 which seems closer to a reasonable generational span. (p. 8)
Though the report does not focus on music per se it did reveal relevant tendencies of this generation which now covers an age range typically considered crucial to the music industry:
Safer Adventures and Travel
"Millennials crave adventure—often “safer” adventures. Can you design a sense of adventure into your brand experience?" (p. 10)
"When Millennials do travel, it’s far more likely to be for outdoor adventure activities, RSVP events, shopping or dates of personal significance (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)." (p. 67)
These observations seem strongly in line with the growth of music festivals in the States as well as the current manifestation of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). What better way to have a safer adventure involving travel than to go to a music festival?
Sadly Woodstock '99 aka "Rapestock" provides a devastating counter-example though that was partly enabled by incredibly poor management and lack of oversight.
In addition to festivals, summer music camps for both children and adults are a growth industry at the moment due to innovative forms that have emerged in recent years such as Rock Camps.
When people travel, even when they aren't headed to music festivals or similar events, they also tend to check out music and nightlife so that's an area that tends to be well-developed. Also note the recent growth of cruises that feature genres of live music.
But responses to date also suggest that there are opportunities for new forms of music experience-related business initiatives. At the moment I can only think of two unique examples, both from the world of EDM:
DJ A-Trak's travel site
DJ David Guetta's Ibiza airport lounge
I think there's room for more such developments and I'd love to hear from people who have new ideas or are launching innovative ventures in this area.
"Millennials believe in cause marketing. Is your brand authentic and transparent or just using a cause to sell them something in a disingenuous way?" (p. 10)
"Affiliation with a cause is more important to the Millennial generation than to any previous generation." (p. 74)
Baby Boomers in their youth were strongly connected to causes and, if you were an activists in the 80s, you know that Gen X was much more politically active than they are typically given credit for being. But Millennials seem to be the first generation to make a positive connection between causes and brands in their youth which represents a unique opportunity for social entrepreneurs.
My only observation at the moment is fairly anecdotal but I've noticed that on Hypebot posts about music and social causes tend to draw less traffic overall than other topics. Since Hypebot's audience is primarily industry-based, I have to wonder if the music industry is paying attention to this attribute of Millennials.
Any thoughts on that?
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.