Blog Post: How Millennials And Gen Z Will Change The Future Of Media

Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, and Gen Z, the fledgling generation following Millennials, will radically change how media companies create and distribute content. These younger cohorts, weaned on smartphones and tablets, constantly connected to social networks and visual-first, have a drastically different set of preferences for what kind of stories they want to enjoy, on which platforms, at which times. 

In the midst of this change in consumer behavior, publishers and brands are presented with a unique opportunity to turn these shifts into opportunities. 

At this year's Association of Magazine Media Mobile summit, I moderated a panel on how brands can respond to these shifts and convert change into opportunity. 


Recently, comScore released its 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report, an in-depth analysis of the U.S. mobile app market, including user behaviors, app downloads and advertising implications. 

At a time when more and more time is spent on mobile, (61% of time with digital media is now spent with mobile, according to a recent comScore report), there has never been a more exciting time to create and serve content to people on their mobile device.

The stakes, however, are high. People's attention spans are attenuating -- and viewing is being fragmented across many platforms and apps. Plus, as smartphones get smarter -- and features evolve (with everything from faster internet access to ad blocking), publishers need to develop a robust understanding of reader habits, and create compelling experiences based on these insights. That's the approach we've taken here at Quartz, and it's been the underpinning of our success: last month we reached a whopping 16 million unique visitors to the site. And we keep on growing.

...Read the full analysis of the report here.


The people who are really winning the Internet are those who are creating intentional communities.
— Caitlin Thompson, Executive Editor, WNYC

We are at a pivotal moment in the history of digital media. Like never before, digital media is evolving into a tool to reach, connect and empower communities across the world.

Such was the message at Out In Tech’s event on the future of emergent, established and social media. Held at New York’s General Assembly this Monday, the event made clear that we, as publishers, are at the bright beginnings of a new media era.

...Read the full list of takeaways here.


This year’s SXSW Interactive, which took place March 13-17 in Austin, Texas, was ground zero for disruptive innovation, brand activations and reflections of new culture.

While there were many engaging and inspiring events and panels, I focused on media (social and digital), content and health -- and saw some crucial trends that will change the future of publishing.

1) There has never been a more exciting time to be in media

While the media business model is in a state of flux, we are entering a golden moment in media. CPMs are not a race to a bottom: Media companies will increasingly focus on quality of views, rather than quantity.

The benefit of disruption is that it allows companies to find new value for their customers. The New York Times has focused on innovations in luxury, men’s fashion and mobile. For instance, it has launched a lifestyle newsletter, a vertical exclusively for men’s fashion, more mobile apps and a revamped The New York Times Magazine.

...Read the full post here.


New Report: Macro Trends from Expo West

“Natural” is becoming one of the most alluring terms for both consumers and marketers. As more people seek to lead healthier lives, they’re increasingly turning to toxin-free, natural products. Indeed, the market for natural products has surged in recent years and continues to grow: U.S. consumer sales of natural, organic and healthy products are forecast to grow 64% from $153 billion in 2013 to $252 billion in 2019, a rate nearly double that of mainstream consumer packaged goods, according to New Hope Natural Media, the organizer of Expo West.

The meaning of “natural,” however, has become significantly more nuanced and complex in recent years. Increasingly, “natural” is being applied across categories, appearing on beauty products, pet products, cleaning products and elsewhere.

At the same time, consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of this claim, placing the term under greater scrutiny.

This report is based on findings from Expo West, the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event. Expo West, which took place March 4-8 in Anaheim, California, brought together more than 71,000 industry members and over 2,700 exhibiting companies. With dozens of panels and hundreds of networking events, Expo West is ground zero for emerging trends and innovative products.

This report touches on three overarching themes from the show, as well as things to watch for the future. 


Blog post: How data-driven personalization will radically disrupt media

Harnessing user data to analyze people’s habits and serve them meaningful relevant content is an increasingly important discipline for any major media company.

Thanks to an endless sea of content and the unlimited choice this allows, people have come to expect to quickly indulge their whims and discover what they want. With so many media properties at the tips of our fingers (via smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and PCs), people know that, if they don’t discover what they want on a given site, they can find the same information somewhere else.

What’s worse is that this massive mist of information is quickly becoming overwhelming: too much content leads to anxiety and inaction.

Faced with these ever-increasing demands for immediate satisfaction, as well as reader confusion, more media companies are focusing on delivering readers the most interesting and relevant content.

Here at MindBodyGreen, we are focused on providing our readers with the most delightful experience by harnessing data to pinpoint people's wants and responding with highly personalized, relevant content. This increasingly common practice is the field of data-driven personalization. And it’s set to redefine media.

Last Friday, I delved into the topic of personalization at a Personalizationpalooza, an event hosted by the  NYC Media Lab at Hearst HQ in New York.

This information-filled morning event explored the ever-widening realm of data-driven personalization in media, offering valuable insights, practical recommendations and a hefty dose of inspiration.

Read the full post here.


Blog Post: Why audience development is the future of publishing

A relatively new but increasingly important discipline is shaping the future of media. As people are presented with an ever multiplying roster of content options, they are grazing from one site to the next, mostly finding them via social. With audiences fragmented and easily distracted, media companies are rapidly embracing new, data-driven techniques to attract people to their site...and keep them coming back. This pursuit is audience development and encompasses all facets of a media company's operations. 

In a recent internal presentation, I outlined some of the strategies for how to bring new readers to our site and keep them engaged by surprising and delighting them with the content they want, formatted according to their device. 

Here are some very topline introductions to potential strategies and levers:

Content: Editorial teams consistently create compelling, highly-sharable content that surprises and delights their readers. Across all publications, editors are the most vital part of an organization, as they are the ones writing best-in-class articles that appeal to a broad cohort of readers, covering topics encompassing food, fitness and relationships. To help editors create content that will truly resonate with readers, media companies need to supply their editorial team with relevant, digestible and useful insights on who readers are, how they operate and what kind of content they want. This means developing a robust set of analytics tools, constantly tracking reader behavior and preferences - and, most important, delivering these insights in a format that all team members find enjoyable and useful to read. 

For instance, we found that men adopt a more focused and functional approach to mindfulness, whereas women are more interested in holistic wellbeing and feeling good. Without giving too much away, we found this information to be helpful in terms of design, content and acquisition.

Data-driven personalization: Our research found that readers felt incredibly loyal to MindBodyGreen,  and are eager to get more of our great content: 91% of readers we surveyed said they trusted MindBodyGreen content, compared to an average of 58% of readers elsewhere who trust editorial content (per Nielsen). However, not all readers are alike - and some are more interested in other kinds of content than others. We are currently investigating a data-driven personalization engine in order to serve readers content that truly matters to them once they are on the site, creating a more compelling experience, driving loyalty and time on site.

Social: Our research found that MBG has developed an incredibly robust following on social. We have more than 2.6 million Facebook fans, 175,000 Twitter followers and nearly 150,000 Pinterest followers. Instagram is growing incredibly rapidly, as well. Together, we reach nearly 60 million people via social each month. We are now presented with the opportunity to increase our social activity to reach a larger base of users, draw them onto the site and build awareness, following and loyalty. All publishers can enlarge their social footprint by launching on new platforms (see Snapchat), equipping team members with the knowledge and know-how to be social superstars and exploring new promotional tactics or social activations.

Email: Email is my favorite tool to drive audience acquisition and engagement. Once the ugly duckling of digital marketing, this old-school channel is having a resurgence. Fed up with the clutter of social, more people are looking to email as a source to get curated, highly relevant information in a discrete, no noise environment. More so than ever, there is a need (and huge opportunity) for delivering relevant content straight to readers’ inbox. Harnessing deep insight into readers' open rates, clickthrough patterns and preferences offers unprecedented opportunities to provide useful, engaging content and drive site visits.

Real-world marketing: As more new digital media brands chip away at the traditional giants, they are becoming big brands in their own right. MindBodyGreen is universally appreciated and has built a strong and loyal following. Our research found that a large proportion of our readers are power users, coming back to the site with incredible frequency. In general, we are a go-to destination for people interested in mindful living - and a keystone resource for many in the health and wellness community. And, one of my favorite parts of working at the company is our mission-driven approach: We aspire to revitalize the way people eat, move and live. And we want this to be achievable for anyone. Increasingly publishers will have the opportunity to expand their brand (and their audience) via exciting and vibrant events and activations in the real-world. 


New Report: Meet the Mindful Millennial

Mindful Millennial

I'm proud to share the launch of MindBodyGreen's landmark study on the Millennial generation... 

Millennials, the generation that ushered in a new era of digital connectivity, are now behind a radical reconfiguration of priorities in response to the very technology that defines their era. Bombarded by a never-ending stream of tweets, text messages and emails, Millennials are exhausted by what once seemed to be a utopian ideal of constant connectivity. In short, technology has become more of a problem than a solution.

The antidote to this mayhem? Mindfulness.

At MindBodyGreen, we’re seeing the shift toward mindfulness firsthand. If sex, drugs and rock and roll were the holy trinity of the Boomer era, health, happiness and mindfulness is becoming the trademark of the Millennial generation. This consumer cohort is restructuring their beliefs and behaviors, placing these values at the center of everything they do.

In this landmark study, MBGenhance examines the rise of the Mindful Millennial, a new consumer that will fundamentally change the world of business and the practice of branding. The product of qualitative, quantitative and desk research conducted throughout the year, this report examines who the Mindful Millennial is and how the Mindful Millennial interacts with brands.

As Mindful Millennials become an increasingly large and valuable cohort, there are substantial opportunities for marketers to engage this affluent, brand-conscious consumer.

To learn more about the Mindful Millennial, visit MBGEnhance.


Blog Post: From puzzles to action, mobile gaming a global pastime

This post originally appeared on JWTIntelligence.com

With close to a quarter of the world’s population forecast to be using smartphones this year, the mobile device is becoming a hub for an array of everyday activity, from shopping to video viewing to gaming. Mobile analytics company Flurry calls gaming “the lingua franca of mobile,” noting that mobile gaming has become a global pastime, with Android gamers engaging in the activity for an average of 37 minutes a day. (American gamers spend the most time—almost 52 minutes a day on average—followed by Germans and Russians.)

Flurry reports that arcade/action and casual games dominate, although regions differ in interesting ways . In Japan and China, by far the most popular games are arcade and action. As this graphic shows, Germans and Italians stand out for their love of brain and puzzle games, with Flurry noting that word games are particularly popular in Italy]). By contrast, around three-quarters of gaming sessions in South Korea involve arcade and actions games, with most people playing within the Kakao messaging app. And Brazilians focus on fantasy football (aka soccer) games.

We’ll see more and more companies lean into the global mobile games market, which one study has estimated will double in size between 2013 and 2016, reaching almost $24 billion in another two years. Chinese Internet giant Tencent, for instance, is reportedly building its business on mobile gaming. As mobile consumers spend more time with games, brands will increasingly look to mobile games as the next advertising medium, as The Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Blog Post: Per McKinsey, luxury growth on overdrive in emerging markets

This post originally appeared on JWTIntelligence.

Despite slowing growth in emerging markets, in line with global macro-economic conditions, their middle and upper classes continue to expand. This redistribution of wealth is creating ever more opportunities for luxury brands, with McKinsey noting that, “Growth is increasingly shifting toward emerging markets across all luxury categories.”

Using broad sets of economic and sociodemographic data from 2,600 cities, McKinsey forecasts that emerging countries will account for close to a third of the luxury women’s ready-to-wear market by 2025, a fourfold increase from a decade ago. Emerging markets are expected to comprise almost half the global market in high-end cosmetics by 2025, and 44 percent of the market in luxury spirits—a much greater proportion than they do currently. Helping to drive this growth: the expansion of online retailers like Alibaba in China and Jumia in Africa, which are making luxury products more accessible.

According to McKinsey, much of this growth in demand will be highly concentrated in cities. The world’s top 600 cities are expected to account for 85% of growth in the luxury-apparel market by 2025. Several major Chinese cities, along with Rio de Janeiro, will likely join the list of top luxury cities in the world. Of the top 20 cities for luxury-apparel growth, seven are in “Next 15” countries, with China driving half this growth (not surprising considering that earlier this year, McKinsey forecast that China will add close to 300 million more urbanites by 2030). And as we explain in our report The Brazil Opportunity: A Guide for Marketers, Brazil will also represent a substantial growth opportunity for both luxury and mainstream brands.

Media Coverage: Boomers play a major role in changing family dynamics

I spoke to The Huffington Post about the shifting shape of family. 

Media Coverage: Why Boomers are starting families at an older age

Today, I spoke to HuffPost Live about the growing trend of Boomers starting new families at an older age. Watch the full segment here:

Blog Post: Younger people use libraries more but value them less

This post originally appeared on JWTIntelligence.com.

The role of libraries in the digital age has been much debated as books go electronic. While print still dominates among readers, e-books are gaining traction, especially among younger consumers. In January, almost half of American adults under 30 said they had read an e-book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 31 percent in late 2012. But despite perceptions that Millennials are addicted to their screens, newly published research from Pew finds that young adults are the most likely users of a library, as well as active readers.

According to Pew, 50 percent of Americans ages 16-29 say they have visited a library in the past year, vs. 47 percent of people 30 and up. (But the percentages dropped year-over-year for both cohorts.) Meanwhile, the gap between generations widens when it comes to website usage: 36 percent of the under-30 group say they used a public library website in the past year, compared with 28 percent of the 30-plus readers. And in line with these higher percentages, the younger respondents read an average of 88 books in the past year, vs. 79 for Americans aged 30-plus. But overall, as this chart shows, older people are more likely to value a library’s resources.

As major libraries struggle to envision what function they’ll play in the digital future, it’s likely that many will focus on building a “third space” for information gathering, access to technology, social connections and various forms of learning.

Blog Post: Q&A with Bella DePaulo, social scientist and author of ‘Singlism’

Our latest trend report, “Meet the New Family,” examines how family is evolving, along with household makeup and interpersonal ties. While researching the rise of solo dwellers, we spoke with Bella DePaulo, an expert on the single life who works as a project scientist at UC Santa Barbara. The author of Singlism and Singled Out, DePaulo talked to us about how households are changing—not only shrinking down to one person but also encompassing multiple generations—as well as how social attitudes are shifting and what this means for marketers.

When it comes to living alone, DePaulo noted that we need to update our image of solo dwellers. For one, with technology keeping people socially connected, loneliness isn’t a defining factor. More people are joining co-housing communities so they can have friends nearby. And some committed couples choose to maintain separate residences, a phenomenon termed “living alone together.”

It’s interesting that more people are choosing to live alone even when they’re in serious relationships. Why do you think “living alone together” is growing?

People have gotten used to their privacy. It’s changed a little with the recession, but for a long time, houses were getting bigger and bigger and bigger as our families were getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and a lot of families, if they could afford to do so, gave their kids their own rooms. So you have this whole generation of kids growing up who are used to having their own space.

More people are staying single or, even of those who do get married, getting married later and later and later. For the U.S., just about every new Census report that comes out shows that the age at which people first marry is going up. So you have more young adults who are used to living on their own, having their own space. You get this group of people liking having control over their space. Then you get this phenomenon where if you get in a committed or even a married relationship, you might still want to have your own place.

Read the full interview at JWTIntelligence.com.

Blog Post: At TechStars' FounderCon, data-driven analysis leads the way

At last week’s FounderCon in Austin, an annual event hosted by startup accelerator TechStars, a dominant theme was data-driven analysis and decision-making. As consumers generate more measurable data than ever and the tools to process it get faster and cheaper, the opportunities for businesses to make smarter decisions are increasing exponentially.

In the HR sphere, for instance, Big Data is shifting the way companies make hiring decisions. Boston-based startup Cangrade quizzes candidates to create a personality profile and maps this against traits deemed important for the specific role, generating a statistical prediction of how likely the candidate is to succeed that the company claims is nearly twice as valid as standard skill testing. Meanwhile, the self-discovery app Good.co helps users determine what job they would thrive in, based around a quiz to measure core personality traits.

The automobile industry is also being disrupted by data. Dash Labs turns the car into a source of data for both drivers and brands. Users plug a small Bluetooth-enabled diagnostic reader into a car’s port to track vehicle performance via their smartphone. Dash analyzes the data to help people improve their driving and maximize fuel efficiency. In the future, the app might integrate an intelligent route-planning feature. From there, brands can derive insights on driver behaviors and identify the optimum moment to push a message, product or service.

Fraud protection is another area where data-driven approaches are being applied. BeehiveID uses algorithms to analyze people’s online behavior as a means to verify their identity. The company is making inroads into the peer-to-peer economy and the online dating realm, to combat the proliferation of fraudsters or detect repeat misbehavers.

Image credit: Localytics

Blog Post: As ever more global consumers shop online, m-commerce gains ground

Worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to rise almost 20 percent over last year, thanks to growth from emerging markets, according to an eMarketer forecast. In the U.S., e-commerce growth is “far outpacing” overall retail sales, per Business Insider, indicating growing consumer comfort in browsing and buying online. And according to Nielsen’s latest Global Survey of E-commerce, online purchase intention rates for more than half of 22 consumer product categories have doubled since 2011, and tripled in some cases.

With multiple devices at hand, consumers have several digital platforms from which to browse and buy. PCs are still the preferred device, as this Nielsen chart shows, but mobile will becoming increasingly important. Nielsen’s research indicates that while the more developed markets of North America and Europe are lagging in this regard, e-commerce consumers in the Middle East/Africa are almost equally likely to use a mobile phone for online shopping as a laptop or desktop.

Many in emerging markets are leapfrogging desktop computers, with mobile devices serving as their introduction to the digital world. And as smartphones get more affordable in these regions, we’ll see mobile commerce ramp up significantly, as The Times of India points out. By 2018, Goldman Sachs estimates, mobile commerce will represent nearly half of e-commerce sales worldwide.

Blog Post: U.S. Millennials drive growth of multigenerational living

Multigenerational households continue to grow, a trend we termed More Under One Roof in our Things to Watch in 2009, as the recession was getting well under way. New research from the Pew Research Center shows that 18 percent of the U.S. population lived in a multigenerational household as of 2012, up 50 percent from 1980. That translates into 57 million Americans in these households, almost twice as many as was the case in 1980.

A key driver of the trend is Millennials, who are continuing to grapple with the effects of the recession but also tend to regard parents as friends (“peerents”). According to Pew, almost 24 percent of adults 25 to 34 live with multiple generations, up from 11 percent in 1980, and more Millennials than seniors (ages 85 and older) now live in multigenerational households. This trend has significant ripple effects in the economy as so many members of this generation delay adulthood and the traditional milestones of getting married, buying a house and having children, as USA Today notes. As they do so, we’re seeing the social normalization of living with one’s parents into adulthood.

Blog Post: How mobile wallet users are paying

The mobile wallet, as we noted in May, has been slow to gain traction in the U.S., although that may change as Apple and other key players show greater interest. But among consumers who use mobile payment technology, the habit is a popular one, according to Nielsen’s Q2 2014 Mobile Wallet Report. Some 40 percent of mobile wallet users say mobile is now their primary mode of payment. Not surprisingly, most of these mobile wallet fans are young (55 percent are 18-34), but they span income levels.

As this Nielsen chart shows, mobile payments take an array of forms. With a smartphone, the most common method is to display a QR code or barcode that cashiers can scan, followed by tap-to-pay using NFC. Paying peers with services like Venmo, which almost a quarter of mobile payers are doing, helps ease social awkwardness and reduce tension around splitting a bill, Nielsen notes.

The key to converting more people to mobile wallets may be reward and loyalty programs. Nielsen reports that 69 percent of consumers would be willing to switch to mobile payment methods if they were to get discounts for doing so. The same percentage would convert if their rewards programs were integreated with their mobile wallets, allowing immediate redemption of points. Euromonitor and Yankee Group have found similar results, as Mobile Payments Today observes.

Blog Post: CSR gets more vital to the bottom line

New research by Nielsen finds that consumers are growing more likely to use their purchasing power to support the greater good—or at least, they’re more likely to make this claim. A majority (55 percent) of 30,000-plus people across 60 countries surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 50 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011. People in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Middle East/Africa are most likely to say they would pay more, with Latin America seeing the biggest jump in socially conscious consumers since 2011. Nielsen also examined which issues are most important to these consumers, as illustrated here.

It’s increasingly essential for brands to reassess their social responsibility initiatives, committing more broadly to making a positive impact and integrating social issues into their core strategies. This aligns with The Rise of Shared Value, one of our 10 Trends for 2012—the idea that generating a profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, as Businessweek reports, a March 2014 year-over-year analysis by Nielsen found an average annual sales bump of 2 percent for products whose packaging carries sustainability claims and 5 percent for products whose marketing programs promoted sustainability actions, compared with a 1 percent increase for 14 brands without sustainability claims or marketing.

Blot Post: Despite hurdles to adoption, wearables market will expand

June 16, 2014

As outlined in our 10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond report, wearable technology will likely break out in the next few years once a killer app emerges, turning mobile into a full-body experience. While the market is currently dominated by sports and activity trackers, a new report by Intel and business intelligence service L2 suggests that smart clothing, smart glasses and 3D motion trackers (which offer a more whole body alternative to fitness trackers) are the wearables expected to see the most growth over the next few years.

For now, however, wearables are still struggling to find mass adoption. Several factors important factors are discouraging consumers. A TNS Global survey in the U.S. last fall found that more than half of respondents regarded cost as a barrier to purchase, 31 percent cited privacy concerns, 13 percent the appearance and another 13 percent comfort. GfK research also confirms the pressing problem of price for consumers in the U.S. and U.K. As far as appearance, some wearables brands are pushing to make their devices more fashionable. Google is partnering with Luxottica, parent of Oakley and Ray-Ban, to make Glass more chic, while Fitbit is collaborating with fashion designer Tory Burch and Intel is working with high-end fashion retailer Opening Ceremony on a smart bracelet.

With significant numbers of consumers abandoning their fitness trackers within six months—often due to disappointing functionality—the next generation of wearable tech will have to deliver form and function at a relatively low price. The most successful devices will also be human centered and life enhancing.

Media Coverage: My take on the modern mother in Adweek

May 13, 2014

JWT trends strategist Will Palley says there’s another factor at play: the rise of the single mom. Pew studies show moms earn most or all the income in 40 percent of households with children under 18. He also points out that 60 percent of all bachelors and master’s degrees belong to women, meaning they’ll have better job prospects and even more disposable income to spend. ‘We’re certainly seeing marketers redefining their image of a single female adult,’ Palley says. ‘Marketers are catching onto their consumer segment of buying power.’

Blog Post: Digital far outranks traditional media in the hearts of young consumers

With the continuing rise of digital screens, traditional television, once the most beloved form of entertainment, is no longer king. And print is disappearing from mind altogether. In an annual survey conducted by the U.K.’s Ofcom, respondents are asked which media they would miss the most. The 2013 results, recently published, are striking. While TV continues to be the most missed media for respondents overall, among younger generations, digital dominates, and especially mobile. The most missed media by far among Britons aged 16-24 would be smartphone access, followed by going online via computers or tablets, with only 13 percent citing TV; print does not rank in the top 5 answers. Among 25–34s, the smartphone also outranks TV, with print making no appearance.

The older consumers are, the more likely they are to say they would miss TV and the less likely they would be to miss smartphones. Among the two oldest cohorts, watching TV would be the most missed media activity for a strong majority, followed by listening to the radio; with only 11 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds owning a smartphone, according to Ofcom research, it’s no surprise that very few in this cohort would miss a smartphone the most.

The rising prominence of mobile screens is also clear from Ofcom’s finding of an uptick in the range of mobile activities that people are doing. More than half of mobile users polled have used the phone to send/receive email and engage in social networking; a third say they have used their smartphone to buy things. Mobile is fast becoming the prime screen among consumers, who are increasingly omnichannel, switching between screens of various sizes depending on their context.