I feel ancient. A few years ago the 18 to 35 demographic seemed to be at the centre of commercial activity. Second in line was anyone under 18. After all, a baby needs diapers and cereals, a toddler needs shoes, bandages and toys, a pre-teen needs school bags and Barbie dolls, a tween needs the latest single from Ed Sheeran, a teen needs new clothes and make up...you get the idea.
Make way for the plurals: It seems only yesterday that Millennials were the IT people. No more. Make way for the plurals. Plurals grew up in the noughties. Their upbringing has been unlike none other in human history. Their lives have been broadcast on social media and they relish every minute of it. For these kids, content is what they want, not what they are given. They stream everything – TV shows, music, videos, lectures – on their own terms, in their own time. They answer to no one but social media, and their influence on their households make them the most lucrative demographic. How are they different from Millennials? They are younger and more fickle. Thirteen percent do not use Facebook; they prefer YouTube and Snapchat. They are diverse, open, inclusive and ready to compromise on privacy if it brings added convenience (think Siri, Google Now, Amazon Alexa).
Turner, the media company which is pioneering the name Plurals for anyone born after 1997 (other contenders being Founders, Becomers), is also one of the leading research exponents of this demographic. They have discovered that the gateway to the world for Plurals is their cell phone. Although for quite some time it is been possible to consume books, music, movies, television, games and education through the internet, this is the first generation that knows no other way.
Do you see a problem here?
They don’t watch TV: For the past couple of years, many writers, including myself, have argued that our marketing methods are inadequate for the digital age. In this age of clicks, ad blockers, tab switching, scrolling feeds, disappearing messages, and short attention spans, a web banner or video ad will find it hard to be seen. News flash: if this was a mildly disconcerting thought, now it is an emergency. Plurals are set to become the main demographic a few years down the line and if you aren’t getting their attention now, you have already missed the bus.
A melting pot of humanity: Plurals are, crucially for the West, the last generation with a Caucasian majority (54%) according to the 2012 US Census. While this statistic may not appear relevant to our part of the world, it does have repercussions. For one, advertising worldwide still takes its cue from the West. For another, the sheer inclusiveness in attitude brought about by ethnic diversity means that the older generation’s ideas about portraying diversity in advertisements and media are obsolete.
So how do you market to Plurals?
The number one trend in media consumption for Plurals is delayed viewership. Traditional TV transmissions are for the oldies. Today we have DVR, video streaming and video on demand. All these formats make a virtue of curtailing conventional advertising within content. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 55% of media is consumed through delayed channels in the US, and this number reaches 72% among Plurals. However, there is an encouraging statistic from this survey: 71% access content about their programme of choice before and after viewing. Think endless fan debates on The Game of Thrones, forum battles on whether the totem fell in Inception, fan fiction and fan theories. They are all over the internet. And the internet, as we all know, is still an underused resource in terms of digital advertising.
Plurals are more likely to pursue specialised interests and niche content. A bit of programming from a Netflix or a Hulu or an Amazon may be nowhere in the Nielsen ratings or the Emmys, but it may have a fan base of dedicated followers who are a prime audience for niche marketing. YouTube star Rachel Bloom took home a Golden Globe for best actor.
Product placement is another avenue to reach out to Plurals. However, beyond the obvious flashing of a brand, the new trend is product integration. Entire shows are ‘branded’ (think American Idol, The X Factor) and multiple products from the same category jostle for space within Hollywood blockbusters. Next time you see Tom Cruise using an iPhone to spy on a criminal mastermind and a Samsung to call his teammates in Mission Impossible, don’t be surprised.
Plurals are also a generation who care deeply about the world; 76% of them are concerned about our impact on the planet and according to Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials prepared by Sparks & Honey, 26% like to volunteer.
Brands like Benetton have tapped into this globalist mindset and have been creating racially diverse campaigns. The BBC just announced that its 13th Doctor Who will be a woman. There are rumours that Captain Marvel will also be a woman. Hollywood, in its own way, is trying to cater to this trend; in Season 1 of House of Cards, the president’s chief of staff was a woman of Cuban-American descent. A minor detail: she was played by an Indian-American.
How to get the attention of Plurals: Advertising needs to be seamlessly integrated into the experiences marketed to Plurals. It needs to be sensitive, diverse and inclusive. Above all, it needs to be no-nonsense.