Dr. Christian Kurz: Discovering Millenial Generation

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Weekend Media Festival, the biggest regional festival of communication, will be held for the seventh time from September 18th until September 21st in the Old tobacco factory in Rovinj. The Weekend will once again host 4,000 media, marketing and PR professionals and feature a rich programme full of interesting lectures, provocative panels, workshops and presentations with themes such as media, marketing, show business, the digital world and key business questions. The infectious atmosphere of the Weekend would not be complete without parties and accompanying entertainment programme.

This year there will be promotions, cocktail parties, concerts and evening parties which are an ideal opportunity for informal networking for the visitors. On this year’s Weekend we will have an opportunity to listen to top lecturers – like Mr. Christian Kurz. Christian Kurz is Vice President of Research, Insights and Reporting for Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). Based in New York, Mr. Kurz is responsible for providing VIMN’s businesses and operations with strategic consumer-based research, as well as maintaining a consistent and strongly aligned research organization across VIMN. His guidance is used to inform international business decisions across all brands of the VIMN portfolio, such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, on all platforms.


You have published the findings of the study titled MTV Knowing Youth: 2020 Vision. What are the most important findings and which trends has this study uncovered?

What we learnt confirmed the overall picture of the Millennial generation emerging throughout all our research over the past years is the following: Youth today are curious about the world and can’t wait to explore it even more. Despite the troubled economic situation and fears around the job market, they still describe themselves as ‘very happy’. This is because happiness is more important to them than wealth; indeed, they define success as ‘being happy’, and ‘being part of a loving family’.

They feel their generation ‘has the potential to change the world for the better’, and they’re motivated to make that change, provided they can work out the part they need to play in the bigger picture.

Youth’s vision for the world in 2020 is generally a nicer place to live, they are looking forward to a world better than today, and are excited by what this might mean for them. While they are not resentful of the world they live in today, they do come at this from an attitude that “things can only get better” and they see the wealth of opportunity this offers them.

How would you describe today’s youth as consumers? In your opinion, what is their vision of the future when trends are concerned?

They are socially rather than politically-minded, although the two are interlinked. Changes to society are at the heart of improving the economic and political situation they find themselves in today. They expect the world to become fairer and the economy to get better, and for everyone to “do their bit’ for the greater good to this end.

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 They are also an eco-minded generation, having been brought up with the realities of a planet running out of natural resources. As such, many of them talk about wanting to see a world that takes better care of the environment.

They want and expect advances in science and technology to make life easier and faster in the future; but they are not naïve about this and don’t want to see a world ruled by robots. They place a very high value on human-to-human contact and want technology to be something that facilitates rather than jeopardizes this.

Finally, because of their open-mindedness and global view on nearly everything, the Millennial generation is ever-more incomprehensive of fighting and global conflict. They are perhaps not set apart from previous generations in their desire for peace, but it is nonetheless a strong theme for them, and their connectedness makes it feel like an even more personal mission for them into the future.

Can we say that nowadays global ideas are becoming local, and how can marketing experts use that?

Absolutely. Millennials are the most open-minded generation yet, and we see them as true global citizens.

They are open-minded and thriving on the change that surrounds them. They are a naturally communal group: open to new people, cultures and attitudes – but their openness also extends beyond people towards products and experiences. Meanwhile, in all areas of their life they are embracing (sometimes having to) change and flexibility, and this shows in their psyche because they do not believe in black and white, in either/or. They see the world in shades of grey.

They have a real interest in what’s going on in other parts of the world and as a result we’re seeing trends spread across the globe faster than ever e.g. fixed gear cycling, as well as increasingly global web services and apps. The ability to develop online relationships across continent is also part of this.

Which communication strategies will brands have to apply in the future in order to reach potential consumers?

Young people live in a world of limitless communication and information. This works well for choice, ease of belonging and endless discovery but has the downside of being overwhelming in scale and pace. So young people have had to develop strategies to help them navigate through an almost infinite world. And as a result, they like to be in control. This is just as true just when it comes to brands, their appeal and behavior and for advertising in particular. Many young people in our research spoke about their desire to control the information they receive from brands via channels like email and social media. They just don’t want to feel the brand is intruding or trying to ‘buy’ them without allowing decision or choice. They filter the information they receive to make sure it’s only things they want – often information on sales, voucher codes, special offers.


And beyond this they’re looking for the brand / product to communicate in a way that is tangible and direct.

In your opinion, how much is today’s consumer becoming an e-consumer and why?

Today’s consumer is used to picking from multiple options. This also applies to the shopping habits. Young people today are very happy to receive advertising messages through digital channels as well as traditional ones.

During the shopping process, they are equally comfortable comparing prices and deals online or through apps. But that doesn’t mean they will only be shopping online – if they want a product quickly and it’s available for pick-up they are happy to do that. In a number of countries we see the emergence of online ordering and in-store pick-up as one valuable option for consumers.

Like with all things, for this new youth consumer it’s an ‘AND’ – they want to be able to buy online as well as in a store – they want to have choice.

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