At the risk of showing my age and demographic category, I marvel at today’s Millenials—has there been a demographic group that has been more over-analyzed than this one? Consider the world of sports alone, where there is much hand-wringing over the attendance patterns and media consumption habits of this crowd. (By the way, for the purposes of this discussion, we at Premier loosely define Millenials as those aged 24-33.)
In our recently published white paper, “The State of Sports,” Premier spent a whole section of the document offering information on the Millenial phenomenon. Whether it be the trend of “cutting the cord” to the creation of The Whistle Sports Network to lagging attendance at college football games to sharing experiences, Millenials are dramatically affecting the way sports marketers think about positioning and marketing their sport or team.
There were two pieces of research that we found, focused on Millenials, which challenged some of the conventional wisdom about this group.
The first came from Synergy with research about Millenials’ consumption of sports through social media. The findings revealed:
· It’s not interactivity and rich content experiences that Millenials want from social—it’s real-time content, immediately and easily accessed.
· It’s not the most official and trustworthy content that Millenials want from social—it’s a rich breadth of perspectives, as they don’t care where the content is coming from.
· It’s not recognition and reinforcement of their identity that Millenials want from social—it’s much more “to me” than “from me.”
There are some key words and phrases in those findings, i.e., immediacy, real-time, breadth of perspectives, and the idea of “to me.”
A second piece of secondary research came from Smartify that claims “it’s not that Millenials don’t want to go to (attend) games—they just want the games to connect with them in a way that is as interactive as the rest of their experiences (if not more so.)”
There has been some rumbling of late that it’s not about fast WiFi in stadiums that influences whether this audience attends games or not. And, that’s correct, although in a misguided way. Fast and reliable WiFi, or connectivity, is a baseline point-of-entry for Millenials—it’s what they expect. Without it, they have the experiential component of being with a crowd of like-minded fans, but without the ability to reliably access content or to share it with others.
The good news, according to Smartify, is that even with sagging sports attendance, Millenials are very likely to be engaged sports fans. The challenge for all of us as sports marketers is that this audience’s views about attendance are dramatically different than their elders. Finding necessary solutions to that challenge will help shape the future of sports.