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The entertainment market evolving markedly, this ethnographic study was launched to identify and describe new behaviors in audiovisual content consumption. In particular, it's focused on the young generation, born with the Internet.
We see today the entertainment market in full transformation. Statistical data in France show a strong behavioral shift in audiovisual entertainment. Getting a clearer picture of the logic underpinning this shift, meant launching an ethnographic study. We aimed to clarify why and how this evolution is occurring. Why now after 50 years of classic TV entertainment? Are we seeing people being less satisfied with the TV contents? How has Internet influenced the way people consider entertainment contents? After modelling these observations, the main goal is to define where Orange should stand. The next phase will be to incorporate the findings in the design synthesis.
Though more of a marketing segment defined to support research vendors, millennials represent an age group. The present study focused on young adults ranging from 18 to 30 years old, born in the 80’s and 90’s. We selected their adulthood because it entails autonomy, emancipation from parental authority. This means a more transparent communication about tastes and habits. Also, millennials are born “with the Internet” for the majority. Their relationship to the outside world is very much infused with the network culture.
There are several intriguing factors at work when considering this group. The millennial generation has a higher education than the previous generations. Yet, despite their education, they experience more economic hardship. Besides personal economic uncertainty, they exhibit low confidence in the world’s future. Present to the impact of consumerism on the world, they are keen on switching to an economy based on needs and sharing. This is a common new trend in western cultures also shared by French millennials.
To get a feel: in France millennials account for a third of the population, representing by 2020, 50% of the working population. 99% own a smartphone and 90% of them watch videos on their smartphones. Besides, it won’t come as a surprise that 96% of the 18 to 24 years old have used at least one social network in the past year!
Twenty-one millennials, from Paris and Rennes, participated in the study. The observational data was gathered via self-observation through 12-day diary studies. The diaries were supplemented with 21 2-hour in situ interviews. Luckily, the study included a balanced variety of participants with 11 women and 10 men. 14 participants actively working of which 4 are already parents, while 7 have not yet joined the work force. 9 are single. The age range from 18 to 30 years, was broken into 4 categories: post-adolescents, “in-betweens”, pre-adults and adults.
Statistical analysis of about 850 practices and deep-tagging of the interviews were conducted. To formalize the observations, we chose to elaborate 15 portraits, a soft-cover book report. And large posters for later co-creation workshops.
In this study, two distinct groups emerged. The first behavioral group, called the “TV centrics”, consume live and replay in a somewhat similar way to what their parents did with TV. By contrast, the other group, the “Network centrics”, have a strong interest in YouTube, TV series (via Netflix) and streaming contents. The surprising finding of the study is that there is no progressive distribution between the 2 groups. Rather, there is an abrupt split, roughly 50/50. Both groups spend time on social networks, YouTube and online videos. But each of the groups devotes about 3/4th of their time to their preferred contents. TV centrics spend 75% of their time watching TV, while Network centrics spend it watching Netflix, YouTube and other contents. For the former group, 85 % of the watching time is for TV. Much like their parents before them, they do this in group mode. There is a lot of active negotiating among those present. Because they depend on what is available, they end up following a variety of topics. On occasion, replay serves to catch up missed added value content. The second surprise we encountered was the distribution of women in this group, over twice the number of men. It made sense to witness young parents belonging to this group.
We focused on this group as it departed from the traditional interest in TV contents. When we questioned them on traditional TV, Network centrics were harshly critical, complaining that it is a waste of time. They find the format too time constraining. They are unwilling to submit their organization to a schedule dictated by others. In any case, TV series constitute their content of choice! As soon as they have adopted Netflix, it’s over for live TV. Also, we see it coupled to the fact that they rely on their laptop to watch. Laptops mean increased mobility. Indeed, the TV set has moved to the bedroom, where it serves as a second screen. Fiction, games and web contents are on the diet. They show conscious pickiness, intentionality in their choices, reinforcing their thirst for freedom. They approach entertainment with utter individuality. Rugged negotiations can take place about what content to watch, especially in the bedroom. Game of thrones and Greys anatomy are the neutral ground. Otherwise, the men turn more to games, while the women watch lifestyle contents, such as “hauls”.
What is striking, is that they all complain about spending too much time watching. Some even aspire to detoxing away from binging on series! They feel the weight of over simplified access to entertainment, which they perceive as a gateway to addiction.
Besides fiction, they are high on social networks. It starts in the morning, getting up with their feeds. And they remain connected all day long, till their last peak before slumber. It is as if the radio relay of their elders gave way to this modern “anthropological” activity. Again, we noted a strong disparity in this group, with young men twice more present than young women.
Collecting, analyzing and modelling data for this ethnographic research is part of a new design approach. For us, it is critical that everyone that is part of a project, be in contact with the actual context of the users. We strive to get a feel for what is happening, to qualify the type of phenomenon we are observing. What the driving forces underpinning the phenomenon are. And this is what we are planning to achieve for all our upcoming projects. It is a fascinating line of design enquiry, although unsettling. The undertaking feels uncertain and we undergo quite a bit of soul searching. We keep questioning how we are listening, how we are collecting, how we are interpreting the data. In short, how we are working. Yet it is very rewarding. Suddenly the design work stands clarified. It allows us to communicate with simplicity to the project teams and garner their full cooperation. More importantly we deliver full user centric solutions.
This so powerful that we have taken team members to go along in the field with us. When team members, be it from marketing, development or design, come along, they take the observations in first-hand. And that is always a win. The added benefit is that, later on, they own the representations we arrived at. In turn, the whole creative process of project can improve with everybody on par during decision-making. Incidentally, even users have voiced how much they appreciate participating in the study. They view it as an opportunity for themselves to take a step back and see what is happening in their lives. In the end verybody wins, teams, projects and design.
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