Matt Britton has been called the modern-day Don Draper. He’s racked up quite a list of career accomplishments already, and shows no signs of slowing down.
During the course of his 20-year career, Britton has established himself as America’s leading expert on the new consumer (Gens Y and Z), having consulted for over half of the Fortune 500. His unique ability to connect the dots between the new consumer culture of today and the business trends of tomorrow is what separates him from the pack and offers unique value for his clients.
Britton’s best-selling book, YouthNation, which debuted at number one on Amazon’s business book list, has created the modern roadmap for corporations large and small to approach a generation with power and influence unlike any other emerging demographic in history.
Matt Britton is on the cover of the current issue of Radio Ink Magazine and a keynote speaker at Radio Ink’s Forecast which is tomorrow (Wednesday) in New York City. Here is an excerpt from our cover story interview with Matt Britton.
Radio Ink: What are the top ways consumers are consuming media these days?
Britton: Mobile. It’s the predominant way consumers are learning about almost anything. Especially the new consumers. They are staring at their phone screens more than ever. They are using their mobile devices to shop and buy things. Social media is not going away anytime soon.
The platforms they use may change — Gen X, and Gen Y to a lesser extent, really gravitated to Facebook, and now you have Gen Z that is all over platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. They are on their mobile devices for buying, communicating, for entertainment, way more than any other device. Even when they are doing other things, like watching TV, they have their device in their hands.
You have new emerging mediums like podcasting — which is growing fast but still relatively small compared to traditional media — that are creating lots of opportunities. At the same time, traditional broadcast television is suffering.
If you ask someone who is Gen Z what a TV network is, they don’t know. That illustrates the shift, because most brands are still budgeting the lion’s share of their advertising budgets on traditional TV networks, and you have the emerging generation that does not even know what they are. That is the challenge that exists right now.
Radio Ink: With the younger generation constantly looking at their phones, what is the most effective advertising
Britton: I don’t think it’s advertising at all. It’s content.
Advertising in its definition means, “What is our unique selling proposition?” like “V6 horsepower” or “20 percent more absorbent.” Traditionally, it was, “How do we encapsulate that into a commercial or ad and force it down the throats of the consumers. That’s advertising — interrupting to force your message.
Now consumers have so many tools to avoid being interrupted, you can no longer buy your way into it. You have to earn your way by creating content that consumers want to seek out. You have to add value to a consumer’s life. Instead of its being, “What’s my product, and how can I interrupt my consumer?” it’s “What does my consumer care about when they wake up in the morning, and where does my brand fit in?” How can I create content that will add value to them? That’s where companies can basically break through. It’s not an easy to do.
Radio Ink: Where does radio fit into all this?
Britton: Audio and radio are two different things. Music is more important in a consumer’s life than ever before because music is driving culture. The way consumers consume music traditionally has been over radio, but now you have many other platforms, like Spotify, where they are streaming and not buying music.
To me, I don’t see that ending anytime soon. I see the car becoming a giant docking station for your phone. You will plug in your phone, and that’s where you will listen. In order for the radio industry, or rather the audio industry, to continue to thrive, it needs to embrace these new mediums, like podcasting.
I know a lot of the big radio companies are doing it. Embrace the fact that terrestrial radio as we know it is not going to be here one day. How do companies embrace new mediums to make sure customers are getting the audio content they want, and still be able to build a business model out of it?
Radio Ink: What do you mean, radio might not be here anymore?
Britton: I think the way most consumers tune into radio is they get in their car or house and tune. Now consumers are streaming from their own devices. It’s not binary, and the data suggests there are still plenty of people who tune into radio, but the trends are undeniable — similar to TV content, which they are streaming over their devices.
That is a different model. There is a lot more customization and fragmentation. The consumer is much more in control of what content they will consume. If I’m listening to Spotify and you’re listening to Spotify, there’s a 99.9 percent chance we’re listening to different songs. That’s not the case listening to radio. That’s a major shift. It lowers the barrier of entry for newcomers into the space. We are seeing that with podcasts.
As technology continues to be pervasive, these shifts are undeniable. Now we are seeing 5G, where streaming will be more affordable and efficient. Every technological trend is going toward it — terrestrial radio as we know it probably won’t be here in 10-20 years.
Radio Ink: What advice do you have for radio?
Britton: Create your own original content. Own content you can’t find anywhere else. Any radio company can play the Taylor Swift song if they pay the licensing. In order to build a business around that, they are relying on their ability to aggregate eyeballs, which is harder to do when the barriers to entry are lower and lower.
It’s about understanding what the audio consumers want to tune into and building programming, whether it be podcasting or specific streaming programs that people want.
Bill Simmons is a great sports podcaster. I don’t care what company he’s affiliated with, I will always tune in. That is intellectual property. It’s something that has value. Consumers tune into people’s personal channels on YouTube, not networks. They will be doing the same thing with audio. The correlations between TV and radio are endless. The disruption will be equally strong in both mediums.