Understanding the target audience is a crucial prerogative for brands. To be able to fathom the trends set in the various technology and consumer goods spaces speaks a lot for a brand – and an onus also lies on distinguishing between what might be a short-lived fad or a more permanent trend. In this regard, I believe that millennial are ruling the consumer mindset. And being a millennial myself, the effect I see around me is quite startling to say the least – startups became cooler and more widespread, which in turn gave an impetus to both entrepreneurs and investors alike. Technology has undergone a paradigm shift to being able to integrate varied forms of technology and novelties.
In this article, I talk a little about how the millennial see fitness and lifelogging in general. I talk about the importance of data, and how the notion of physical activity is different for the millennial and the Generation X. I then come to conclusions regarding how the Quantified Self movement might have a larger, deeper impact on the millennial.
ENTERING THE MINDSET
First off, let’s enter the mindset of a millennial to truly understand the topic at hand. They’ve grown up hooked to Star Wars, watched re-runs of Friends, used Pokémon cards as currency and have relied on floppy drives. They’ve also seen the popularisation of mobile brands such as Nokia (and sadly, seen their fall as well), grown from dial-up connections to blazing internet speeds, and have seen concepts that were deemed to be ‘futuristic’ be realised in a span of a few years.
So, that’s a millennial for you. They’ve grown out from being in awe about evolving ecosystems, to developing applications and startups centred around these very ecosystems. The transitions are amazing, to say the least. But one thing governs all the evolutions – mobile technology.
The millennial have seen mobile devices evolve from mere communication electronics to having a plethora of functions. And not just capabilities of connecting to social networks, mind you. They’ve also seen how sensors within a smartphone, trackers and wearables are moving on to provide hard, solid data.
Which brings me to the next part of this analysis: how important is data for the millennial?
THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA
The answer to my question? Data is very important for the millennial.
Back in SXSW 2015, there was an interesting debacle on Designing News Brands for GenX and GenY, where it was stated that the millennial don’t rely on institutions and organisations – they seem them as monolithic organisations, legacy beasts if you will. They rely on the internet, data, facts, algorithms and most of all Google.
Personally, I agree with this stance, and allow me to put forth my reasons on why I think this is a justified outlook. You see, the millennial represent that generation where information is available more freely. You don’t have to go to a library to look up data anymore: all you need to do is pull up a Google search.
And that’s where the importance of data steps in. The millennial represent a mindset which can call BS on any factoid that is otherwise not proven by Google. Chain mail are rendered useless when the viewer visits Snopes, and algorithms and numbers are more important – specially if it is from a reliable source.
The priority now lies on cold, hard data. The millennial know that any wrong information shared on the internet would result in instant bashing, so they’ve grown accustomed to proven facts. And this trend is seeing a presence when it comes to their fitness decisions as well.
MORE QUANTIFIED RESULTS
So, the millennial love their phones. And they love data. How can fitness corps use these two concepts to their benefit?
It’s simple, really. Phones are inseparable (for the most part) for the millennial, so they are now programmed to record fitness based statistics. They want records, numbers, graphs and depictions to showcase that they are getting healthier.
And it’s not just numbers, contextual correlation also plays a huge role when it comes to reaching to conclusions. The millennial want to know how they can improve their statistics, what factors contributed to a more enhanced performance on a particular day, how the fitness recordings can be made better through a more quantified (and qualified approach).
There’s a difference between the notion of results for the millennial and GenXers. While the millennial need to rely on data to tell them that they are doing well, GenXers are not really concerned with the data associated – they want to achieve the results. And in this particular scenario, I’m actually on the side of GenXers: some days are good for fitness, and some days aren’t. The millennial can’t live with declining results, and for them it’s hard to make a correlation.
This is where brands can truly make a difference. What if data and numbers could contextually correlate with each other (through inter app interaction) and give the user a more relative performance report card? We could bridge the GenX mentality and the millennial mentality and bring about a more pronounced change.
Let’s look at this conundrum from a brand’s perspective now. There are some key traits that are being recognised as driving forces for the Quantified Self for the millennial.
• RELIABLE DATA
• INEXPENSIVE, AND UNOBTRUSIVE TRACKERS
• APPLICATION ECOSYSTEMS
• SOCIAL NETWORKING
• COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
The above points actually form a flowchart of sorts. The millennial want hard, reliable data. And to get this data when it comes to health related statistics, they rely on trackers and lifelogging devices. The more inexpensive and unobtrusive they are, the better.
More often than not, wearables are coming to the fore as the trackers which can be on their person at all times – and within wearables too we’re seeing sensors become smaller, wearables track more data and them evolving into fashion accessories to attract a larger (millennial) crowd.
The data which is collected goes into dedicated applications. The smart phone plays a huge role in this flowchart, and the user can see the data in the form of informative graphs and charts.
Finally, there’s the social aspect to it all. The millennial want to share the data with experts and friends alike, and they want reliable advice regarding their stats. Through concepts such as gamification and more community support, the Quantified Self is shaping out to be a millennial centric movement, designed by the Generation X.
And, keeping in tune with this article, I’m sure you won’t take this statistic without facts. So, here are some statistics:
• According to Employee Benefit News, the millennial will make up 50% of the total American workforce in 2020.
• The millennial are most excited about, and currently active in, the quantified self-movement (46%).
• More than half (54%) are likely to buy a body-analyzing device that measures weight, body fat, blood pressure, etc.
• They are more likely to track their sleep cycles and water intake than any other generation.
The source of these statistics can be found here.
The Quantified Self movement is shaping out to be the movement that the millennial in particular can identify themselves with. It will be interesting to see how brands and ecosystems can be designed around this fundamental in the near future!
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