2016 Finalist

The Economist Group Millennials Research

The Economist

New York, United States

Category Consumer Research

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

The Economist Group was facing a challenge in 2015. Many of our biggest clients were starting to turn their attention to a younger ‘millennial’ audience. At the same time, there was a perception across the industry that to target millennials, newer publishers such as Buzzfeed, Vice or Vox.com were the only options. The ability of established publishers to reach this audience was in doubt.
Was this really true? Were a whole generation switching away from serious editorial and trusted media brands to focus on listicles or opinionated blogs?
We knew internally that this was not the case. The Economist reaches 2.3m millennials every week, and our social channels reach an estimated 4.2m. However, rather than make this argument directly we wanted to explore the role established media played in the lives of millennials, so we could better explain to marketers how to target this audience.
We commissioned Bloom Worldwide, a social marketing agency, to help us with this challenge and ensure the research was independent. They combined large-scale quantitative survey data from GlobalWebIndex with deep-dive qualitative research to provide new insight into the media habits, behaviours and attitudes of the Millennial generation. A global influential Millennial panel of 128 participants was recruited to take part in the research via Bloom’s realtime insight network, HARK, where participants submitted video diaries, drawings, illustrations and held forum discussions about the media, brands and their role as online storytellers. The research covered Europe, US and Asia, which was a point of differentiation compared to other millennial research in the market.
Could we create a piece of research that explained the role that established media brands played in the lives of the most influential millennials? Would it allow us to have a different conversation with marketers, positioning The Economist Group as a core partner to help them with their challenges?
More than that, could a piece of research help us change our conversations internally about the way we interact with readers?

Results for this campaign

The work from Bloom generated hours of video content from our influencers, together with huge amounts of written content as they took part in the online forums. Once we had worked through the findings, we found a compelling narrative about a segment of the millennial audience who both challenged the stereotypes, and offered an opportunity for The Economist’s clients. We called them Gen-Narrators.
We used the research to secure meeting with clients in the US, UK, across Europe and Asia. We secured more than 20 meetings with clients and agencies, including blue chip clients such as Adobe, LVMH, Bulgari, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Shell and Moet Hennessey. Some of these clients were ones we had not met before, some were long-term supporters, but all told us that the research challenged some of their perceptions around millennials. We presented it to agency teams in the UK, France and Germany, many of whom were millennials themselves and told us how helpful it was to see data giving a more nuanced characterisation of their generation.More specifically, in several instances the research led directly to getting briefs and revenue from clients.
The research was covered by trade press globally, and we leveraged this to use it as the centrepiece for panel sessions at Advertising Week conferences in New York and London, and the World Media Group International Digital Communications Forum.
Finally, the research became a reference point internally in relation to our product development strategy. The Economist launched new products such as our daily app, Espresso and our video documentaries, Economist Films. These products remain true to The Economist's ethos of quality editorial, a global outlook and uncompromising editorial standards, but change the delivery format to better suit the requirements of the gen-narrator audience. Discussions around these products, and others in the pipeline, were closely tied to the findings of the millennials research.
Perhaps most satisfyingly, the research resonated with millennials themselves:


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