MILLENNIAL MARKETING MISSTEPS
Entitled optimists, digital natives, and cause-minded consumers may be convenient descriptors for the millennial generation. But this 80-million-member audience spends little time defining themselves as a catch-all demographic segment. And with 25-34 year old CEOs creating brands, or 45-55 year olds returning to college to reinvent their careers, demographics don’t tell the whole story.
The most essential advice we give our clients about creating impact with youth is to stop marketing and start listening. Authentic cultures reject outside advertising messages. Brands seeking a deeper connection to these cultures need to get involved and add value. In short, real recognizes real.
When you reboot your research and learn about your consumer through brand participation, remarkable things begin to happen.
BENEFIT 1: PARTICIPATION BRINGS FOCUS
Brands that contribute to culture gain deeper insights and clarity about what the core audience really cares about (which should be what your brand cares about too).
The profile of the consumer starts to evolve:
It’s not males, 18-22, into rock music.
It’s males dedicated to preserving their childhood ideals, on the Eastern seaboard, into math rock, veganism, animal rights, and Legos.
Follow the passion to find where to contribute—what media covers the scene, who organizes events, who are the artists, ambassadors and experts, and how do they share their energy?
BENEFIT 2: FOCUS UNLOCKS OPPORTUNITY
Brand loyalists influence a broader audience. Case in point: Oakley was founded with $300 in 1975. The garage brand worked with BMX and motocross riders to create the first soft rubber grip. Oakley sponsored the best riders and stayed at the heart of the up-and-coming sports.
Soon a powerful truth became clear to Oakley founder Jim Jannard—aesthetics are important. Oakley answered the insight with a line of sunglasses, accessories and apparel that brought the culture and style of action sports to a broader market—earning billions in the process. And Jannard went on to take it even further by following his own passion for photography, creating the RED camera to share the content from these sports to an even bigger audience.
It’s not how you categorize or describe your audience. It’s how they see themselves. They don’t have time to hear your message or a reason to trust it. Start bridging that gap by participating. Deeds, not words, will provide the insights and true understanding to put your brand on the right path.