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The Millennial Angle

August 17, 2023

In 2023, there is no shortage of ways to reach millennial consumers. This generation (much like Gen Z) has the need to be constantly connected and is accustomed to spoon-fed advertising, with little to no extra work required on their part. Trust me – I was born in 1987 so I’m an active member of this club.

I am targeted by ads on every online platform I use. But I rarely give it a second thought because it has just become the norm. I certainly have some recollection of the days before I was a 24/7 reachable consumer, but these memories are faded and fuzzy. Given this accepted reality, where does traditional advertising (for the sake of this post, let’s use radio as the example) stand? Does it still have the gusto to affect my fellow millennials and me? And, if so, what is the best angle?

It is well known that cable TV (and the ads that come with it) has been mostly replaced by cut-the-cord services in many millennial-run households. But radio is different and, unlike TV, millennials are still largely exposed to radio ads. Plus radio has the advantage of tagging along with its perpetually on-the-go millennial listeners. Whether they are enjoying a nature hike, commuting to the office, or chauffeuring their kids to extracurricular activities, radio can be “along for the ride” and by their side through it all. The fact that radio so easily crosses over to social media is another advantage for advertisers wanting to reach this Facebook generation. These are some fairly obvious benefits. But let’s think a little outside the box …

Many studies have shown that listeners are more likely to consider an ad relevant to them if they hear it during their favorite show. Take the content on the very popular “Brittney and Barry in the Morning;” if the listener is resonating with them, then the advertisements during that program slot will also.

In addition, once millennials like what they hear, they tend to be very loyal listeners. Knowing this, traditional radio and digital media are best utilized together for optimal millennial engagement. This tactic further strengthens that loyal fan base which, in turn, increases ad frequency.

Think station or personality podcasts. Those are definitely becoming more and more of a thing these days. Millennials are drawn to influencers they can relate to. For this generation, the “Power of Personality” is incredibly strong—another tick on the board for radio when compared to other mediums. Radio personalities aren’t an afterthought to millennials; they are often the entire reason Mr. or Ms. Millennial is listening to that station at all. These valued personalities will get the attention during the show’s assigned block of time and continue to be “followed” once the show is over—because they have the ability to connect with these particular listeners through additional means like station events and social media. In other words, their importance to this generation continues beyond just their time on the air. And the same is true for their endorsements.

Some may even feel certain on-air hosts are akin to members of the family. That probably seems a bit exaggerated, but hear me out. Picture millennials enjoying their morning coffee with these hosts. Listening to them while fighting rush hour traffic, making it just a little more bearable. They would be devastated if that host was suddenly replaced or left the station.

After all, these personalities have been an integral part of their daily lives—perhaps their Monday-to-Friday grind—possibly for years. And when your favorite personality has something to say, well, you listen and take it seriously. You have faith in them to deliver relevant information, and they become a trusted source for all kinds of things: music, news, politics, brands, and product recommendations. On the flip side, when it’s time for them to dish out the jokes and not be so serious at all, that helps build the relationship too. Quite a few of us millennials could REALLY use a dose of comic relief at this point in our lives! I am speaking from personal experience here.

So then what’s the angle? Millennials deeply appreciate feeling understood, connecting with others, and especially a sense of community when consuming media. Luckily, radio has the potential to thrive in all of these areas.

-Bethany Barsoian, Client Services Consultant