Dialogic Blog

Millennials and Preferences for Real-Time Communications

by Thomas Schroer

Nov 10, 2017 3:00:00 AM

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At the recent CCA in Fort Worth, I attended a session moderated by Margaret McKoin of the Time Group that consisted of a series of presentations and a panel discussion on marketing to Millennials. The discussion was geared towards the preferences and buying patterns of Millennial consumers for telecommunications services, and several interesting points were brought up.

What struck me was that the things that drove preferences with Millennials also seemed to be shared with Boomers. So, are the generations that different in how they progress through the buyer’s journey or are there just different compelling events or tools used when it comes to Millennials, Gen X and Boomers?

Millennials make up the largest consumer segment having overtaken the Boomers back around 2015, so the focus of the presentation was on making sure their attitudes, preferences and interests were taken into consideration and addressed by communications service provider. Several interesting findings were shared with audience that included results from research done on how millennials make buying decisions. While I was curious as to how the questions were posed to come up with the findings, the results were still interesting. According to one part of the research, Millennials…

  • Read comments and reviews on social media
  • Research and compare options
  • Purchase online or start online and pickup at a bricks and mortar store
  • Don’t like being marketed to and want to feel they are in control
  • Like discounts and perks

Let’s face it, these observations relate to today’s consumer regardless of their generational affiliation. Who doesn’t like to be in control? Who doesn’t like a discount? Who’s going to refuse a perk when its offered to them? Product reviews have been around for ages; the Internet, however, has made it easy to readily access other peoples’ opinions, and it seems natural that Millennials will tend to look more to peer reviews as opposed to advertisements.

The concept of digital natives and digital immigrants probably should be revisited, and the differences between generations in how they consume media may not be as pronounced as reported. Rather it’s how social and online media is consumed and used where the big differences seem to lie. As Nielsen points out, “it’s abundantly clear that Millennials approach digital content consumption differently from the rest of the population.”

Regardless, I am not a behavioral scientist, but what I thought was amusing was that we were able to actually ask questions to three live, free-range Millennials that were on hand to validate the various findings presented and respond to questions from the audience on all things “Millennial”.

Now there was nothing scientific to this Q&A, nor were the panelists representative of all demographic, social and economic categories – remember, it was a sample of 3, and it was probably as accurate as asking a neighbor or a co-worker what they thought and trying to extrapolate their response across an entire population. So, while the responses could not be used to determine any trends in a statistically significant manner, the discussion did, however, make for an interesting session and generated a lot of questions.

I asked a couple of questions to the panel of Millennial experts specifically about real-time communications. My first question had to do with Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS). Earlier, they indicated from a user experience perspective that telecommunications applications needed to be easy to buy, easy to use, and, most importantly, have a slick online experience. Considering that, the question I posed was how important the audio or video quality was when it came to real-time communications applications. All three indicated that service quality aspects were not as important as things like availability, reliability or usefulness of the app. This was not surprising especially when people have become accustomed to a certain amount of audio imperfection or video blockiness from OTT apps as well as low expectations with the voice quality from cellular service. That’s seems consistent with what service providers are seeing with customers’ willingness to pay extra for HD Voice when it comes to VoLTE and the realization that, as some studies point out, call quality is not a top priority when it comes to communicating.

Another question posed was on privacy and security. The panel did not seem concerned that the applications they use can and do gather a lot of personal information on them including buying patterns, transactions, and preferences. A personalized experience is more important to them regardless of what information is gleaned, traded or mined as long as they get a perceived benefit. Clearly privacy expectations have evolved.

The session really reinforced the importance of the notion that you need to market to the needs of your audience. Are service designers for communications providers and application developers taking these new or emerging preferences into account as they dream up innovative ways for people to communicate? Are we putting too much emphasis on voice and video QoS if no one is willing to pay extra for it? What do you think? Tweet us at @Dialogic.com or email me at [email protected].

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Topics: Unified Communications and Collaboration