Five Tips for Conducting Research with Millennials

Filed Under: Best Practices, Market Research, Millennials, Youth & Family


Brenda Hurley

Executive Vice President, C+R Alum

There has been plenty of talk over the years about how the millennial generation is different from the rest and why it’s important for companies, politicians – everyone to care about them. We partnered with The Agency, an integrated strategic communication firm within the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, to create a unique research community targeting millennials called Mavy.

Mavy is a unique community which allows marketers to understand what millennials think about their brands in an environment developed specifically for them. Following are some best practices to effectively conduct research with millennials.

1. Best Practices Often Cross Generations

It’s important to note that for many methods and tools used in research, most are appropriate for all audiences or generations. Something that is a best practice for millennials is very likely to be a best practice for other generations as well. We often hear that we need to tailor our approaches to millennials specifically, but the reality is that if we determine something is a best practice or approach for millennials, more often than not, it should be done in all of your research. It is also important not to abandon great approaches just because they’re not unique to millennials, but rather embrace them as a great way to communicate with and gather feedback from a wider range of consumers.

2. Millennials Are Not a Homogeneous Group

People tend to place millennials all in the same bucket – they say millennials are millennials, and they must all act and think alike. Well this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, because of the age they are at right now, Millennials are one of the most diverse generations we’ve faced. This generation includes kids just out of high school, young adults in college, new graduates struggling to find a job to join the workforce, first-time parents, as well as more established households and rising stars in corporate America. And they don’t all identify as being millennials. In fact, only 40% of 18-34 year olds really consider themselves a millennial.

3. They’re More Comfortable with Mobile, But It’s Not Always the Answer

It’s true that mobile is a big part of millennials’ lives, but when asking consumers–even millennial consumers–to react and respond to various research projects, sometimes mobile isn’t the best approach; so, we need to take a look at each approach individually and decide what is the best way to go about communicating with this audience. I’ve heard people talk about how you can’t get millennials to provide in-depth responses in open-ends. We disagree. They are still good at providing those lengthy responses. In fact, they really like to share their opinions, but when you need that kind of depth, we would encourage completing the task on a computer or tablet in order to get a more verbose response. No one likes to type extensive text on mobile platforms, and millennials are no exception. Even though they use mobile a lot, they’re not typing long strings of text on their mobile device. This is one of the reasons we are mobile-first, but not mobile-only.

4. Make Your Research Interactive and Visual

This seems to be a no brainer, but too often, we see research done with only written text. We are big advocates for conducting research consistent with how consumers are communicating with one another. So today that means pictures, memes, emoticons, and video.

One way in which we gain more depth is through a combination of memes and written text. Here, consumers can get their point across fairly quickly with a meme and provide some explanation but don’t need to type as much as they would without the visual. Plus, it’s fun and keeps them engaged.

An avatar exercise can be good for relatability questions as well. You can have millennials create an avatar of who they think a particular brand or product is for and then ask how close this person relates to them. Can they relate to the person they created? Why or why not? This allows for greater depth because they spend time creating this avatar so more thought goes into it, and we are really able to access their mindset.

5. Millennials Have Short Attention Spans

The days of a 40-50 minute survey is over, or rather it should be over, especially when targeting the millennial generation. This generation is so used to multi-tasking and doing things in short spurts via a quick text message, a tweet, or a selfie – there’s no more writing of long emails or having a long phone conversation. Instead, our research questions are being answered while consumers are on the go. It happens when they have a few minutes at a bus stop, while they are in between classes, or when they need a break from work.

Research needs to be engaging enough so they’ll want to continue to come back and participate in our projects when they have these short moments of down time. Our quizzes – and yes the term survey is out and quizzes is in – (it’s a lot more fun to take a quiz than it is to take a survey) are short, engaging, and use the same tools as other apps this audience is using: swipe it left or right, dragging and dropping images into different buckets, posting a video instead of typing long responses. We try to incorporate all of these things to make it convenient and easy to use while our millennials are on the go.

The Mavy community was built for millennials by millennials. We utilize these best practices in Mavy. It’s the perfect platform to consider when conducting your next research project with millennials. To learn more about this community, and best practices for doing research with millennials, make sure to view our webinar: Groundbreaking New Community of Millennials!

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