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When our smartphones are connected to our palms, it can be hard to find a minute alone. Constant notifications from others wanting replies or simply wanting to be heard creep in at every moment for connected Millennials who eat, sleep, and breathe with phones in hand. According to creative technology agency MRY, this creates a mobile relationship that is fraught with contradictions and absent of an “off” button.

MRY’s latest research into consumer digital behaviors uncovers that Millennials are the most distracted generation to date, with technology serving as the catalyst for a growing attention deficit as compared to preceding generations (see Fig. 1). This always-connected normalcy has created what MRY dubs, “The Leisure Paradox,” wherein Millennials suffer from a love/hate relationship with the technology many grew up with. For example, although nearly half (48%) of Millennials worry about spending too much time on their smartphones, 60% believe smartphones enhance their leisure time. Quite the conundrum.

Figure 1. Smartphone-Induced Distractions, Millennials vs. Gen X

MRY millennial microleisure

The report unveils a myriad of other data points, gathered through polling and interviews, around Millennials’ mixed mobile emotions, including:

  • Forty-eight percent have tried implementing a “no phone at the dinner table” policy with friends and family, but 71% also agree that smartphones have made it easier to plan things they like to do in their leisure time.
  • Forty-nine percent agree smartphones make it hard to focus on a singular task, yet 66% also agree that smartphones have greatly enhanced their leisure time by giving more access to leisure activities.
  • Forty-six percent agree smartphones make it difficult to get away from work at home or on weekends, while 51% agree that smartphones provide a means to reduce stress during a busy work day.

As a result of The Leisure Paradox, the traditional split of work vs. play throughout the Millennial’s day doesn’t adhere to the traditional 9-5 work schedule. Rather, daily and evening downtime for younger generations looks a lot more like this (see Fig. 2):

Figure 2. Theoretical View of Millennial Daily Leisure Timeline

MRY millennial timeline

Knowing that small bursts of leisure are intermittently engaged with throughout the day, brands must adapt their advertising, marketing, and content strategies accordingly. MRY shares six key inflection points throughout the day that companies can facilitate micro-leisure, adapting to and satisfying their Millennial audiences (see Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Day-parted Marketing Channel Recommendations

MRY millennial day parting content

Then, once brands understand the when and the where they should be engaging Millennials throughout the day, they can focus on the how. MRY offers the following recommendations for organizations looking to reach Millennials on their level in order to maintain relevancy:

  • Adopt short-form as the format of choice for content aimed at Millennial audiences. This means focusing on communicating key messages in a matter of seconds.
  • Understand the right “etiquette” within each channel to speak to Millennials in their own language and avoid being awkward.
  • Capitalize on emerging mobile ad and content formats designed to tell stories with the functionality Millennials are used to: flicks, clicks, and taps.

MRY’s full report, “The New (Micro)Leisure,” here.

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