What to Consider When Marketing PCs to Millennials

Millennials are so yesterday! Gen Z is who we are told we should worry about. True, we must understand our kids now to figure out how they will shape the world. In the short term, however, especially if you are trying to flog, I mean sell, something, it is Millennials you want to understand as they are the ones with purchasing power.

A couple of weeks ago I shared some data from a recent study we, at Creative Strategies, conducted in the US on workflows and the importance that some features native on smartphones are having on determining what users want to see on their PCs. While I was looking at specific sample cohorts, I found some fascinating data points that PC manufacturers should keep in mind when targeting Millennials.

Technology Adoption

Early tech adopters are often characterized by two core qualities: their tech-savviness and their high propensity to adopt technology early in the cycle. Many assume that, as most Millennials grew up with technology, they are by default, early adopters. Millennials (18 to 34 years old) in our panel certainly check the first box: 72% of them consider themselves pretty tech savvy with family and friends often turning to them for tech advice. When it comes to buying new gadgets though, only 50% said they tend to be the first person in their peer group to purchase.

Work and Play is a Blend even on a PC

I often talked about how Millennials seem to have given up on trying to find the work-life balance that we, members of Gen X, have been desperately tried to find. Instead, Millennials are working towards a blend of work and play that ultimately might deliver a balance or a better sense of being in control. When we asked our panelists how often they start and finish their work or student day at home only 10% of Millennials said never. This compares to 18% among Gen X.

The phone is the tool Millennials turn to so they can check emails, calendar, and social media before heading out in the morning (45%) and keep an eye on things in the evening (27%). What is interesting is that the PC that for many generations had represented the king of productivity and even more so since we have been blessed with smartphones, is becoming more a device that Millennials rely on for both productivity and entertainment. Twenty-three percent of our panelists in the 18-34 age bracket open their PC/Mac/Chromebook in the morning to check email, calendar and social media but 17% turn to the same devices in the evening to binge watch content or for gaming. This is almost double the number of our panelists in the 35-54 age group.

The Right Tool for the Job

Over the past couple of years, we have seen operating systems as well as apps trying to bridge the divide between phones and PCs. Apps allow users to do most of what they do on their phones on the PC and the other way around although maybe a little less naturally. Operating systems even allow users to pick up a phone call or answer a message from their PC/Mac so not to interrupt their workflow. How much Millennials embrace this cross-over compared to Gen X is quite interesting and could help PC vendors better understand what features to focus on both in their product design and their marketing.

Maybe the most telling data point that shows how differently Millennials think about their phone and their PC is that answering a phone call does not top the list of the tasks they turn to the phone for. Social media tops their roster and with a clear lead over Gen X. This can signal two things: one that social media for Millennials really started on a phone rather than a PC. Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp are the children of the app stores. Facebook, on the other hand, had the chance to establish itself on the PC before it moved to mobile and for many Gen X, the PC is still where social media happens. The other point this data might signal is that Millennials are embracing other devices, like the PC, albeit only a little, when it comes to voice communication.

I shared some data earlier that shows how, when it comes to entertainment, Millennials seem to be happy to turn to the PC especially if they have been on the phone all day. When we asked device preference for video, however, 43% of the 18 to 34 years old on our panel picked their phone over their PC. Such preference might come down to privacy, apps or force of habit we will dig more into this in future studies. Whatever the reason, however, PC manufacturers often think that given a choice for content consumption users will pick the bigger screen and this data shows that this is not the case which should give them some food for thought.

More tidbits from the study showed us that Millennials are more comfortable using their phone as a hotspot, are less concerned about Wi-Fi security, but they are also less willing to share personal data to get it for free. Isn’t fascinating that a generation who lives on social media could be concerned about privacy? Certainly, a topic to explore more in the future, but for now maybe a warning that this generation is more complicated than it looks.

Published by

Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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