The Business Insider Ignition conference 2011 in New York brought in its share of precocious Web natives recently liberated from MIT and other points north. But the insights came hard and fast at the event, held at the Time Warner Center in New York. The location is ironic, given the consensus among speakers and panelists that big traditional media as a monolithic network enterprise is gone, and the media is now a network of nodes comprising individuals like those walking around the streets of New York 10 stories below the conference room.
One comment came from Alex Kazim, founder and CEO of Ongo -- that $500 will soon be too much for a tablet, and that eventually the sweet spot will be $200.
"The Newton failed because the Palm Pilot was $200 and Newton, $700."
Next up was Matt Briton, CEO and founder of Mr. Youth, who spoke about the perpetually elusive Millennials, beginning with the misconception that they don't have lots of money. Well, they don't now, but they will. He said.
"They will have more spending power in five years than Boomers have now. They aren't rebellious, they are humble. But the paradox is that they look at someone like Mark Zuckerberg, who created a business in a dorm room, and feel that that kind of success is achievable. They think the sky's the limit."
He said that while the class of 2010 was all about brand and bling, the class of 2015 is about showcasing your own brand and persona.
"This generation realizes that once they get out of college their resume won't be enough. They realize that their personal brand -- what they have done, what have they created, what they have they built -- is what matters."
The takeaway was that young people are becoming brands, but brands realize they must become people.
In terms of media behavior, no surprise here:
86% of Millennials are cutting the chord on cable, opting for online only.
"The TV used to be the central place in dorm rooms."
He said that Hulu, Netflix and YouTube have supplanted cable in media consumption among that demographic.
Briton says brands need to address five "need states": Utility; entertainment; information; rewards; and recognition.
- Utility means creating something the Millennial generation needs (his example; Intel's "Museum of Me," which allows teens to connect a Facebook app to their profile to create a museum of their lives).
- Entertainment used to be as simple as dialing up a celebrity as a spokesperson or sponsor, but that now, celebrity could be a YouTube sensation like Kelly, picked up by Marshalls for a promotion.
- Information is "not always about product or service, but about the consumer."
- Rewards should be less about acquisition. He said.
"Brands often try to reward for acquisition, but now brands realize they have to reward for loyalty. Doing that brings organic growth."
- Recognition simply means spotlighting consumers' involvement in brand equity, a la Wheat Thins showing up unannounced at the house of one of the brand's social-media ambassadors with a pallet of the crackers, and filming their response. He said.
"It's looking at what consumers care about and fitting in that framework."
COMMENTARY: Unfortunately many college graduating millennials, unless they have a full-ride scholarship or rich parents, are going to be saddled with so much college student debt (now approaching $1 trillion), that student debt will be like an anchor around the neck of many millennials well beyond five years. For this reason, I squash any notion that millennials will have more purchasing power than Boomers. I just don't see this happening because wages have been basically frozen, and corporations are content hiring temps and part-timers than they are full-timers.
Things have gotten so bad, that economists have coined the term, "disposable workforce," to describe the situation. If you stop to analyze the root causes behind America's the high unemployment rate, it's structural, and there are three key job destruction forces at work including technology. Millennials need to know these things, but you will be surprised how few do. Jobs are still hard to comeby, and roughly 40% of college grads still have not found full-time job's.
And for those of you dreaming of getting a high-tech job in Silicon Valley, the cold hard facts, there are only about 48,000 internet jobs in all of Silicon Valley. Yeah, they pay good, if you are a software engineer, know Java or HTML5 and mobile app development, but how many apps does the world really need? Then let's not forget the free meals and Red Bull you can drink at Facebook and Google, all of it designed to keep you at work, so you work more. I call that exploitation.
If I were a millennial, I would stop dreaming about the quick buck, stock options and an IPO, and the ridiculous dream of ascending to something like a Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Pincus, Lady Gaga or heaven forbid Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton. They are really poor examples to pattern oneself, if you ask me. The idea of a personal brand is just self-promotionalism and a whole lot of narcissism and sensationalism. We don't need more brands or apps or more websites, and certainly no more Mark Zuckerberg's. We need more volunteerism and millennials with a societal mission, big vision and a knack for innovation that will bring forth the new hard core technologies that solve the real tough problems of tomorrow that will endure the test of time.
I would love to see more math and science majors, more engineers, chemists, physicists, doctors and scientists who can make things and serve a societal purpose, and a lot less hackers. Ask me what Facebook makes, and I am left scratching my head. In fact, I have predicted that Facebook's ad revenue potential is really limited. It has already reached a critical inflection point, The same goes for Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn or anything social. It has a cap on it, and it is 60% there already for a lot of these social startups. I often joke that if Facebook went out of business tomorrow, the only thing left would be lots of servers and office furniture. We would never miss Zuck and his hackers. Employers believe social networks are the biggest time suck ever. 50% of employers ban them on the job. Tell me I am wrong. If Chevron, AT&T, Microsoft or Apple disappeared tomorrow. We would definitely miss them. Think about what I just said. Always ask, "What do they make?"
I am not trying to create a Boomer vs Millennial clash here, but knock some sense into all Millennials reading this. Ask yourself. What does that company make that will endure the test of time. If connecting and sharing is what the world needs, I would just stick to my blogging and with email and txt messages, and engage with real people you know trust and are really close to you. Besides, there are a whole lot less privacy issues with email and txt messages. Facebook is now on a 20-year probation including annual privacy audits by the FTC for for numerous privacy violations. Yeah, Google and Twitter, too. Did you know that your social media posts could get you fired or prevent you from getting a job? Even scarier, Facebook has become the new Big Brother, and is now under tight control of the CIA, FBI and NSA, and I am not kidding about that. Zuck is now Big Brother. Do you really want that?
I don't want to come off as being against digital technology, Web 2.0 or social media. They have their role. Certainly the Spring Revolution in the Arab Middle East has lived on due to social media and the internet. It represents an extension of our freedom of speech, but just be careful what you say (see above). Personally, I am too old to give a shit, I view myself as on a mission to spread the truth, inform and educate you. Millennials can be haunted by what they did or said on the internet for years, and I have seen some of the shit millennials post online, and it grosses me out sometimes.
So there it is, all laid out for you. The future is in your hands. Go my darlings and meet the real challenges of tomorrow.
Courtesy of an article dated November 30, 2011 appearing in MediaPost Publications Marketing Daily