Selfie Generation Tunes in Brand Journalism

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The Hashtag generation is interested in more than online narcissism as it connects and depends on online brand content.Online brand journalism is connecting with the selfie generation. Millennials view branded content as part of the creative mix online they talk about and share.

These conclusions flow from an online study, “Hashtag Nation: Marketing to the Selfie Generation.” It was commissioned by integrated marketing agency Havas Worldwide and based on 10,574 responses from people between the ages of 16 and 29 in 30 countries.

For marketers, the good news is that young people don't disdain brands, but instead invite them into their online social circle. "Nearly half of all young respondents characterize brands as “essential” to them — compared with just a quarter of those aged 55+," according to Havas Worldwide. But a word of warning to marketers: 4 in 10 respondents aged 16‒34 say brands don’t take young people seriously enough.

Survey results suggest younger people think of many brands as part of pop culture. "Far more than older generations," says Havas Worldwide, "young people say pop culture has helped to form their personalities (51 percent) and attitudes (50 percent)."

“Brands rely on youth not just for what’s in their wallets, but for what’s in their heads and hearts — their creative input, their enthusiastic evangelism, their energy,” says Andrew Bennet, Havas Worldwide global CEO. “And young people, in turn, want to be able to rely on brands to make their lives better and to help them stand out from the crowd. It’s a relationship built on mutual interests and trust — and it’s up to brands not to blow it by being disingenuous or failing to keep their promises.”

Technology companies such as Google, YouTube, Facebook and PayPal elicit brand passion. But Havas says any brand can mimic a tech brand persona with a strong digital presence. It is no longer Coke versus Pepsi; it is which brand can immerse someone in its digital experience with a great app, shareable content or a unique online experience.

The study also says companies in the "sharing economy," which are literally services accessed on a software platform, have immediate appeal to Millennials because they make life "more fluid and less expensive."