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Millennial Moms Wrap-Up - AMP Agency Ethnography Series

The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” Throughout the fall, we focused on millennial moms to babies and/or toddlers and saw the world from the perspective of Caitlin, mom to Ridley (almost 5) and Elliot (2), Alessandra, mom to Mila (almost 2), Victoria, mom to Mason (3 months), and Monica, mom to Jack (3) and Tucker (8 months).   A year ago, I remember a colleague at AMP Agency, a mom to two youngins, declared she was tired of mom marketing. Her argument was that companies like to make motherhood seem like a total chore, and try to relate to mothers by acknowledging how hard it all is. She said that most brands failed to also recognize the pure fun of it all. As we followed our four moms for this ethnography series, we certainly saw a lot of chaos and business, but, luckily, we also got to see that fun shine through. Let’s dive into our evidence – those real mommy moments, taken directly from their phones. There is no blessing quite like the drive-through. While it’s safe to assume that most moms rely on coffee, we were surprised to see so many moms actually snapping from the Starbucks or Dunkin’ drive-through. More often than not, the kids were in tow in the backseat. Not only does the drive-through provide Mom with the caffeine she needs, it serves many other functional benefits, from avoiding buckling in and out of car seats, not disturbing coveted naps, and providing fun chat time between mom and child(ren). Brands with drive-throughs should find ways to celebrate this cherished time in the car, perhaps by designing games for kids in their app, or designating a few days a year to “surprise and delight” families who pull up with kids in the backseat.   L to R: Alessandra excitedly enjoys her first sips; Mason peacefully sleeps as Victoria sits in the Dunkin’ drive-through; Caitlin and her boys have some fun while waiting in line Whether multi-tasking, hurrying, or wading through the backlog, each day is a new race. To no one’s surprise, moms are really busy. From multiple kids to multiple jobs, they’re juggling a lot. What was evidenced from our Instagram Stories, though, was an optimistic, “go with the flow” attitude rarely seen in stereotypical depictions of moms. Whether they were distracting their kids with toys to finally load the dishwasher, rushing through a shower before their infant cried, or not getting to the breakfast dishes until 2 pm, brands should take note of the light-hearted tone of their chaotic Stories, including their use of stickers and emojis, which proves they’re willing to shrug their shoulders and say “c’est la vie” with a smile, rather than with frizzy hair and a scowl.         L to R: Caitlin’s boys play with Play-Doh as she cleans up the kitchen; Victoria humorously writes a how-to guide on showering with a newborn; Monica finally tackles the dishes as her kids nap Sneaking in “me time” is necessary – not just as a mom, but as a woman. Moms realize that to show up for their families everyday, they need to take care of themselves too. While it may only be for a few minutes or at odd hours of the day, brands should consider how they themselves can support women’s efforts to recharge. Yes, this may be by finding ways to make chores easier and faster, but outside of their duties, moms’ needs as holistic humans should also be acknowledged and prioritized.      L to R: Victoria sneaks in a little reality TV as she pumps; Monica finds an hour for a pedicure; Alessandra winds down after a long day by digging into “Call Me By Your Name”    Moms have a sense of humor. Let’s say it again: MOMS HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR! When we think of moms, especially in the media, certain stereotypes may come to mind: the nagging mom, the strict mom, the overly sentimental mom. If we learned anything from this ethnography series, it’s that moms don’t always take themselves too seriously. They laugh at themselves, and they laugh at the dumb stuff their kids do everyday. While they love and protect fiercely, they’re also willing to have an innocent chuckle at their kids’ expense: Alessandra laughed upon discovering her daughter perched on a shelf as if it were a chair, while Caitlin tried her best to be “sympathetic” as her son started to cry that the wet playground slide had made his pants damp. We certainly appreciate our moms’ senses of humor as they let us follow them during this series!     L to R: Caitlin and her kids play “Restaurant” at the park; Alessandra can’t help but laugh as Mila steals her glasses and “tries them on”; Victoria plays everyone’s favorite game – “Put The Binky In, Spit The Binky Out”

Millennial Fiancés Wrap-Up - AMP Agency Ethnography Series

The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency  Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.”   Throughout June and July, we focused on millennials who are in the midst of planning their weddings and saw the world from the perspective of Jillian from Allentown, PA, Casey from Chicago, and Haley and John from Boston.    As marketers, we frequently consider how to reach and resonate with our audiences during times of pivotal life moments. This month, we decided to focus on the time leading up to what is often considered to be the “most important day of your life” – your wedding day. How are engaged millennials posting on their Instagram Stories during this time? What do they consider to be the elements of their day worth showcasing? Keep reading to find out.    The way to the heart is still through the stomach Yes, learning to co-manage meal routines is integral to cohabitating (see our earlier Grocery Diaries reflection for more here), but our participants’ Stories also reminded us that sharing meals together is still the perfect setting for creating memories as a couple.    Food is especially important to Haley and John, as they met at culinary school, and their Stories showed the small ways in which food helps them “play house” as a couple and demonstrate their care for one another: John made Haley breakfast, while Haley texted John a photo of the quiche she was making for him in turn later that day.    Food also plays a role beyond the day-to-day drudgery, as we saw Jillian and her fiancé’s spread at a taco date night, as well as Casey and her fiancé posing at the dinner table during their friend’s wedding reception.  The New York Times understands the hecticness of this time in fiancés’ lives and the power of food to force a couple to slow down and enjoy each other – in their robust How to Plan a Wedding guide, they even go so far as to instruct the reader to take a break from wedding plan and go on a date. There’s opportunity for brands in relevant industries like food, restaurant, and grocery to remind millennials at the wedding planning stage that they deserve a break.          Food is love: (L to R) John cooks Haley breakfast, Jillian enjoys date night, and Casey poses at the dinner table during her friend’s wedding reception.   Everyone else in their life is getting married and having babies too While culture likes to romanticize weddings as a time to completely celebrate oneself and one’s partner, in reality this time is extra stressful because fiancés aren’t just planning their own affairs – they’re spending considerable time and money attending and participating in their millennial friends’ similar milestones and events. While the average wedding in 2019 cost almost $39,000, nearly 20% of millennials say they’ve also spent $1,000+ to attend a friend’s wedding.    In fact, our soon-to-be-Mrs. Casey, chose to take over our Story on a day when she was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. We followed as she got ready (in matching wedding tribe tees), put on her bridesmaid dress, and enjoyed the beautiful venue. While it was undoubtedly a day filled with love and memories, we were reminded that in an already financially-stressful time, wedding expenses go beyond those for a bride and groom’s own big day. While financial tools like Ellevest for wealth management or The Knot for wedding planning help fiancés save for a wedding and keep an event budget, brands like these could expand their offerings by helping millennials also account for the money they need to save in order to participate in friends’ celebrations in the same time period.        While planning their own weddings, brides and grooms may also be participating in – and budgeting for –  friends’ marital events. Every fun wedding extra, like Bride Tribe t-shirts, should be factored into budgets for brides, grooms, and members of the wedding party.   “I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!” At the end of the day, our Millennial Fiancés warmed our hearts. (And maybe that’s because of the prolific use of heart emojis, gifs, and stickers they used on their Stories.) By following the days of Jillian, Casey, and Haley and John, one couldn’t help but sense the wave of positive energy that comes over an engaged couple during this exciting time in their lives. And while the “big” moments, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping, surely set off a surge of emotion, Instagram Stories also continues to be an arena for sharing all the “small” details that might make a fiancé smile when spending the day with the one they love, like Jillian taking her partner to the site of her childhood summer camp, or Haley driving John to work.    When brands speak with millennials, who are likely in the midst of major life events, they shouldn’t forget utilizing imagery and copy that also celebrates everyday life and the small moments that make it all worth it.        Don’t forget the small stuff: While Instagram is of course ideal for posting about big milestones, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping (L),  you can also feel couples’ excitement as they experience “regular” days with their partner.

Transitional Millennial Shopper Behavior

Check out AMP's newest data visualization on the Transitional Millennial - https://www.ampagency.com/shopping-behaviors-millennials/  

Travel Brand Opportunities

Across the evolving travel landscape, hospitality, airline, and booking brands are looking at a variety of opportunities to better activate their brand voices, use technology for competitive advantages and make investment decisions based on travelers' unmet needs. Our research had uncovered three significant areas of opportunity for travel brands: 1. Prioritize Social Strategy  Social media represents the dominant force for inspiration in their new landscape. There is potential to create greater brand affinity and distinction by operating social channels differently. 2. Behave like a Simplifier  The planning process is time-consuming and overwhelming, but travelers ultimately enjoy it. Booking engines have an opportunity to provide consumers with time-saving experiences and better management of multiple trip components. Niche providers are already effectively replacing data tables with simplified and conversational interfaces. 3. Balanced Tech and the Human Touch  Even in a connected world, travelers have a strong desire to connect in person when they need help at their destinationHotelses, tourists attractions and excursions shouldn't be too quick to replace service personnel with digital kiosks, but should carefully consider the right moments for digital interactions. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

Balancing Tech + Human Touch

While some travelers feel that vacations are time to disconnect from technology, or take a “digital detox,” most people don’t actually unplug. When we asked travelers about their wish list for their hotel stay, the majority of people said “free WiFi.” In fact, millennials will choose a hotel based on “Instagram-worthy” de?cor, pointing to their desire to be connected to social networks while vacationing. This need for connectivity also speaks to continued planning during a trip. Travelers frequently use navigation apps while traversing a new city, or apps like Yelp and OpenTable to figure out where to eat. The dependency of technology has removed spontaneity from travel - open-ended exploration has been replaced by people moving through destinations based on their popularity and share-worthiness. But research and anecdotal stories show that spontaneity is good for us. There is still nothing that quite compares to the thrill of discovering a gem by happenstance. However, travelers have conflicting feelings about spontaneity. We found that 47% of travelers said they wish they were more spontaneous, while 30% said they wish they were more of a planner. Most will accept a nudge to be more impulsive – as 73% of individuals said they would be willing or very willing to receive text messages about unplanned excursions, dinners and other experiences while on vacation. So what kind of useful tips can brands provide travelers? Well, family-friendly activities to start. But surprisingly, travelers ranked food experiences as their second most memorable moments. When it comes to communicating with travelers at a destination, the best medium depends on context. Our research revealed that 84% of travelers are open to receiving text messages from hotels with check out time, WiFi usernames and passwords, menu specials, etc., while 67% are likely or very likely to use chat services or texting with airlines or hotels. For transactional conversations like these, a text, chat or emoji will suffice. However, a whopping 76% of surveyed individuals believe that human interaction throughout travel- provided services is important or very important. While the majority of individuals (55%) have used a concierge when at their destination, the remaining 45% who did not felt they didn’t need one or that they could find the information they needed on the internet. Of those who have used a concierge, most prefer to have conversations in-person, not digitally. When we spoke to travelers, many of them reflected positively on the times they had one-on-one conversations with their Airbnb host and received local – not touristy – recommendations. It’s important for travel brands to understand when they can interject during a trip, when to emphasize in- person conversations, and when a text will be more well- received. Key Takeaways:  Travelers welcome useful suggestions fro brand that prompt them to be more spontaneous. For transactional communication, digital will suffice. However, for personalized concierge servies, most travlers perfer in-person. To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

A New Type of Travel Agency: AI Meets Human Expertise

Over the last two decades, OTAs and direct-supplier ticketing websites have revolutionized the industry and forced many brick-and-mortar travel agencies to reinvent themselves, find their niche, or close their doors altogether. Many of the travel agencies that remain standing serve a wealthy clientele. When Travel + Leisure wrote about the importance of travel agents in May 2015, they cited trips like a 32-person, two week, six city trip across India as an example that highlights a travel agent’s indispensability.2 While one may appreciate the services provided to make this trip possible, it is not a relatable scenario to most travelers. Yet, according to IBIS World, the travel agency industry is growing once again and showing signs of a broad turn to experts to help plan travel.3 We see four trends that will increase demand for travel agents in the near future: OTAs that serve endless choices, not solutions The possibility for better, more personalized recommendations powered by big data and artificial intelligence (AI) A new generation of travelers who have come of age on mobile devices The ongoing premium placed on 'authenticity' When it comes to booking, our study showed 79% of individuals want customization and ease. The majority (56%) of those surveyed have used a travel agent in the past, citing deals, time savings, and expert advice as the best reasons to use a travel agent. Of those who had not used an agent, 30% didn’t do so because they enjoyed the planning process and 25% found it to be too expensive. Another 21% said, “I trust myself more.”   Importantly, frequent travelers value an agent’s expertise and ability to save time, whereas infrequent ones value an agent’s ability to save money and stress. While 85% of individuals are willing to have another party help plan their trip, agencies need to help consumers understand more clearly how they offer personalization that demonstrates desirable ROI. Traditional travel agents should also be warned of new services like Lola, which fuse a chat interface, AI and human expertise to generate trips. Lola offers a glimpse at the future of travel agencies – personal, immediate and delivered through a chat interface. The brand deliberately avoids the data tables that plague almost all other booking experiences. It is the only travel experience we know of that is built for an audience who has come of age conversing through mobile intermediaries. Key Takeaways: A combination of AI and human expertise is about to disrupt the travel agency industry. Travelers are receptive to planning assistance for an agent provided there is demonstrable ROI (time saved, money saved, expertise, or personalization). To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

Hey Travel Brands, Here’s How to Stand Out in the Planning Phase

Consumers are spending more time planning and researching their vacations, and they’re using multiple devices to do so. Online research typically starts 45 days before booking, with most individuals devoting 2-3 hours to research. While travelers still rely primarily on their laptops, Millennials are increasingly using their smartphones to conduct research. The most frequently requested service for which travelers turn to booking engines is the ability to book multiple travel elements (flight, lodging, excursions), followed by the ability to see all of their itinerary details in one place.  Read more about simplifying the planning process for travelers.

Why Advertisers Should Bid Adieu to the “Perfect Mom” Trope This Year­

The “perfect mom” archetype isn’t just unrealistic for the vast majority of women, but also creates a stressful imbalance of priorities that leaves their own well-being last on the list. As we move into 2017, the “imperfect mom” will become the new hero in advertising. In an era where authenticity and relatability are the most important aspects of engagement, how could she not be? The beauty is in the imperfections.

With Email to Millennials, You Just Don’t Know If They’re Going to Open It

Younger millennial email users are more hit or miss than older US email users when it comes to opening marketing emails, with larger percentages either always or never opening those messages. You’ve got mail.

  • December 16, 2016

Why Sex, Millennials and Video Didn't Sell For Elite Daily

Eight months ago, Elite Daily was “the voice of Generation Y,” in the words of a presentation it made to advertisers. Two weeks ago, the Daily Mail General Trust, its parent company, wrote down the entirety of its investment in the millennial-focused publisher, a tacit admission that the site was worthless to the company and its investors. That plunge is the latest turn in a wild ride Elite Daily’s been on since it launched in 2012. Forty million down the drain.

  • December 12, 2016

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