Millennials are defined as those born in the 1980s - between 42 and 50 million (USA Today stats) who came of age with the new century, now between 18 and 28. They have also come of age truly wired, far more so than Boomers (now reaching retirement age) or Gen Xers, ages 30-45.
Millennials have grown up linked by BlackBerries, Androids, iPhones, computers, iPods and video games. This is the generation of Wii, Facebook, Twitter, free downloads and access to just about everything. They are living what is now called a "digital lifestyle" and according to the Luxury Institute they are tuning out old media.
"Wealthy Americans 35 years of age and younger are avid consumers of a wide range of new media on smartphones and tablet computers. Seventy-percent own smartphones (40% iPhone, 24% BlackBerry) and 23 percent already have an Apple iPad. On average, these younger wealthy individuals spend more time each week sending and receiving email (246 minutes) than they do speaking on the phone (137 minutes)," reports the latest Luxury Alliance statistics of May 16, 2011.
The Luxury Alliance continues, "Nearly as many Millennials use text messaging (88%) as a frequent means of communication as talking on the phone (91%). Compared to their older wealthy counterparts, millennials spend far more minutes on average each week texting (121-42), instant messaging (89-30) and video chatting (75-9)."
"Millennials are quickly losing the television, radio and print newspaper consumption habits of their parents. More wealthy Generation Y consumers watch online video (78%) than those who regularly read a printed magazine (76%) or newspaper (68%). Their average of 100 minutes weekly spent watching online videos, combined with 227 minutes spent watching DVR playback, exceeds 289 average minutes watching live television. Internet radio is closing the gap, too, with average listening time of 75 minutes per week, compared to 150 minutes for terrestrial radio."
With these stats considered, how have many luxury brands engaged these new media Millennial mindsets?
Augmented Reality is proving to be a major force in this engagement. It is a process already in existence that combines two diverse dynamics: the perception of personal exclusivity and a multi-dimensional, sensory experience. Augmented Reality, or AR, is a method for using a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, like sound or graphics. It presents unique opportunities in terms of virtual fashion shows, digital flagship stores, 3D advertising campaigns, augmented reality iPhone applications, iPad magazines and Facebook live-streams.
Augmented Reality is taking digital marketing strategies to a more sensory, immediate, attuned level - perfect for Millennials and others on either side of the generational divide. AR enables consumers to virtually try on jewelry, watches, clothing and handbags. The technology requires object recognition and computerization on the PCs, Macs or mobile devices as well as 3D renderings to superimpose images in the real world. What this process does is allow greater interactivity in the selling/buying process, creating an emotional connection between product needs and consumer desires.
As a prime example, Tissot Reality: through its website lets users print and cut out a paper strip in order to try on virtual watches. Tissot showcased the application with an interactive Selfridges, London window display. This reportedly resulted in increasing in-store sales at Selfridges by 85 percent, while the YouTube views of the campaign have surpassed 100,000. See below, with the Tissot wrist watch AR video:
This is just one example of the long list of digital innovations that luxury brands have pioneered in 2010. In 2011, the field is growing. According to figures from ABI Research, the market for augmented reality (AR) in the U.S. alone is expected to hit $350 million in 2014, up from about $6 million in 2008, or around 50 times more from 2008 to 2014.