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It’s hard enough to hold one person’s attention, let alone an entire generation’s. Millennials—now the largest generational group in the U.S.—have grown alongside advancements in technology and media platforms, placing them in intriguing territory with regard to media habits. When it comes to television, their eyes are glued to the screen. With commercials, they’re still tuned in—but their eyes are on their cell phones.

Nielsen’s inaugural Millennials on Millennials report is unique in two ways: It offers critical insight into the evolving media habits of this highly digital demographic, and it was produced by a team of Nielsen Millennial associates keen to help clients engage and reach a generation that every modern marketer is seeking a connection with.

As marketers and advertisers look for the best opportunities to reach this demographic, they need precise insight into the evolving viewing and consumption habits of Millennials, which are closely watched and coveted.

Here are three things you might not have known about Millennials that the report uncovered.



TV still constitutes the majority of video consumption, but every other screen is much more valuable to Millennials. TV-connected devices (DVD players, VCRs, game consoles and digital streaming devices) compose four times the percentage of Millennials’ total video minutes than adults 35 and older: TV-connected devices account for 23% of Millennials’ total time with video, compared with just 6% for consumers 35 and older. And as a result, Millennials spend about 27% less time watching traditional TV (89% among 35+ vs. 66% among Millennials).

Image Courtesy Nielsen.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.



The report looked at a handful of popular, primetime programs to understand the dynamics of multi-tasking and attention among Millennials compared with other generations. During premiere episodes of various primetime programs in the fall of 2015, Millennials were least likely to change the channel during commercial breaks.

Less than 2% of 18-34 year olds changed the channel during commercials, compared with 5.5% of 35-54 year olds and more than 8% of viewers 55 and older. Given their engagement with other devices, however, Millennials had the lowest program engagement and lowest ad memorability scores during the studied shows.

Knowing that audiences, including Millennials, may opt to skip advertising if given the choice, content providers often disable ad-skipping features in their VOD content. In terms of openness to advertising, however, Millennials are quite open to viewing ads as long as the content they are viewing is free on their mobile devices. As a result, marketers and advertisers have a notable opportunity to present their value propositions to young viewers who are tapping into the realm of content available via their connected devices.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.

Upon further review of Millennial habits during commercials, these viewers report that they’re most likely to use their phones—a prime outlet to engage with social media. Smartphones provide a plethora of ways users can engage with other forms of content and social media serves as a notable slice of that pie.

Given their engagement with social media during commercial breaks, it’s not surprising that Millennials score lower than older generations when it comes to ad memorability. Nielsen’s recent Millennial Media Advisors Report notes that TV ads have an average memorability of 38% among Millennials, 10 percentage points lower than among Gen X’ers 35 and over (48%).

The low memorability rates, however, don’t stem from a dislike of advertisements.

Rather, Millennials understand the necessity of ads in order for brands to inform the public of their products and services (79%) and many say that overall, ads don’t bother them (46%)—especially if the content they’re viewing is free (75%).

Image Courtesy Nielsen.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.



Among Millennials, social media stars are becoming synonymous with the word “celebrity.” In a write-in section of our custom survey, numerous respondents named several social media stars multiple times when asked: “Please list your current top five favorite celebrities.” When tested against mainstream stars, social media stars hold their own in terms of celebrity status. For example, according to Nielsen’s N-Score, a measure of a celebrity’s marketability, male Millennials have a higher opinion of trending social media stars than they do for sports stars, pop stars, actors and actresses.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.

Image Courtesy Nielsen.



The Millennials on Millennials Report is led by Nielsen Millennial associates and analyzes the unique nature of this demographic group by leveraging Nielsen data-sets and fielding a custom survey to understand the “why’s” behind the data trends. The report includes data from The Nielsen Connected Device Report, Nielsen Custom Survey, Nielsen TV Brand Effect, Nielsen Total Media Fusion, Nielsen N-Score/Talent Analytics, Nielsen National TV Toolbox, Nielsen Social, and The Q1 2016 Comparable Metrics Report. Eight TV programs analyzed for this report were from all premiere episodes of 2015. They include a variety of genres including comedies and dramas from an assortment of different networks and episode lengths. [1]


When we talk about millennials we are talking about individuals born between1980–2000. They are the largest population ever comparison. The reason for the focus on millennials now is because they are really approaching their peak spinning years in important consumer categories weather its apparel or restaurants or consumer staples or household products and within the next 5 year their spending is supposed to increase by 15%. This is the generation that has really grown connected. 80% millennials have mobile phones, 75%of the millennials have social media profiles. Even for the oldest millennials who are now 35 years old have had internet access broadly since at least they were in high school.

Image Courtesy Onyx Realty.

Image Courtesy Onyx Realty.

It is really the tech overlay that is the catalyst that lights the fire under this whole story. The parents and other family members look at the millennials for what technology should I be adopting , what new types of consumption behavior should I be engaging in weather its rights sharing or different apps that would allow you to adapt differently or look at user reviews to compare prices.Seeing a large number of consumer behavior arising due to millennials and it’s really exciting to see how the companies are responding to it. Millennials are 3 times as more likely to talk about a brand or product over social media and 10 times likely to blog about it. Companies now believe that they really need to connect with consumers over social media in ways that they hadn’t before.

Another important consumer behavior we see emerge is the peer review as an important tool to make approaching decisions. We see that millennials that 2 times more likely to see up to peer review on products before buying them.

Lastly, millennials are a generation of researchers and are 50% more likely to make price comparisons on products in store before purchasing them and that has an important implication on retailers who are no longer to charge a price premium because you have the right product at the right place on the right time .Most interesting part of millennials story is that we have really seen companies taking the reactive approach to the consumers who they didn’t really understand but their behavior was changing so it was more about playing defense. But today companies are taking a pro-active approach to invest in areas where they think the consumer is going and that is going to have a profound effect on consumer economy going forward.


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References Sources:

[1] Taken from Millennials On Millennials A Look At Viewing Behavior Distraction And Social Media Stars written for Nielsen.

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