Marketers are in a mad rush to target Millennials. They are the largest consumer group in history and expected to spend more than Baby Boomers by 2017.
Millennials also came of age with a different relationship to marketing and brands. This creates tension as marketers figure out how to communicate to a new wave of consumers who can be resistant to marketing communication.
As Stephen Colbert put it, “Young people love being target marketed by their birth date and purchasing power.”
Marketers can’t just give a Millennial makeover to the same old marketing approach. I think the more fundamental shift is the mindset change in marketing that I talked about at Google last year.
In chasing the shiny new demographic, marketers also need to remember that Millennials are composed of individual, unique people. Not all Millennials live in Brooklyn and ride a fixed-gear-bike. They are not a one-size-fits-all group, just because they were born between the early 80s and early 90s. In trying to sound Millennial, brands can easily turn off the very audience they’re trying to reach.
For a cautionary tale on marketing to Millennials, watch Stephen Colbert’s review of Campbell’s Go.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on brands that market well (and poorly) to Millennials.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
7 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Chris Marr says
What annoys me the most about the ‘same old approach to marketing’ is that the fundamentals are still the same.
Some marketers just need to stop for a minute and think about their buyer. Go back basics and really try to understand their customer.
Large demographic groups have never been the same, they’ve always been unique. The companies that are, and will be, the most successful will be those that can understand their customer better than anyone else. In my mind it’s always been this way…which, from how I’ve read this article, is the exact point you’re making here.
Wei Xiang says
I work in a Market Research firm and find that a lot of consumer brands tend to “stick to the basics” – so to speak via traditional media channels such as TV / Radio / Print … it’s not to say that these aren’t working at all – they are, but definitely not enough for millennials.
It’s not just functionality millennials are looking for (I’m not too ashamed to say that I am one myself) but at the same time the need for recognition is becoming stronger than ever. We only pick up things – programmes, events, magazines, articles – that we are truly interested in.
Hence, when it comes to advertising to the millennials, marketers need to go re-learn what they assume they know and really delve deep into their INTERESTS to actually connect with them at an emotional level.
We already know what we want, we just want to feel awesome after having it.
Dan Koski says
I work in nonprofit marketing and branding in the West Bank of Palestine. Marketing Palestine to millennials interested in coming to Palestine and supporting the local economy through purchasing goods and services is a growing concept at the moment and there’s all kinds of people and organizations that are making headway. With limited resources, I find that not trying to stay on top of everything that millennials are doing, but trying to keep at least the core value of marketing individuality of what we offer is what works best.
“In chasing the shiny new demographic, marketers also need to remember that Millennials are composed of individual, unique people. Not all Millennials live in Brooklyn and ride a fixed-gear-bike. They are not a one-size-fits-all group, just because they were born between the early 80s and early 90s.”
…Really? Because all baby boomers are a one-size-fits-all group, right?
Sure, marketers need to move away from broadcast mentality communication, but perhaps that’s because the tools available now allow for more differentiated messages and the expectations of younger generations have been raised as a result.
As an aside, there’s an awesome example of millenial-targeted copy right in this post – I’m located in Australia so I wasn’t able to watch the embedded Colbert video. It’s a common, frustrating experience, but this time instead of just the annoying “this video is not available in your location” I can also see this: “It’s one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can’t give up your vegemite and move to America, watch clips from the Colbert Report at thecomedychannel.com.au”. I still can’t see the video, but at least they’ve given me a laugh! For those who are also outside the authorised areas, there’s a brief rundown of the video’s content here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/16/stephen-colbert-soup_n_2143500.html
Hi Tom, another great post! You might be interested in this new book excerpt posted to Advertising Educational Foundation: “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever” (By Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton)http://www.aef.com/on_campus/classroom/book_excerpts/data/1306
I agree that it’s risky to generalize the Millennials. But, as the book excerpt indicates, one of the common themes among them is that the millennial generation is more likely to purchase brands that are purpose-driven, genuinely support a cause, and make consumers feel they can help make a difference in the world. Besides Tom’s Shoes, Panera Bread came to my mind with their “Live Consciously. Eat Deliciously” value, Panera Cares Cafes, “Food Chain Reaction” (with Feed America)social media campaign, sourcing antibiotic-free chicken, etc. (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/193606/panera-bread-aims-for-social-food-chain-reaction.html?edition=56774)
Great insights, thanks! And sorry that the Colbert video didn’t show up. I posted this when I was traveling in the Netherlands and I assumed that if it was available in the US and Europe, it would be in other markets too.
This week’s print goes to Chris Marr for reminding us about the fundamentals.
Chris Marr says
I just wanted to let you know that I received your print in the mail.
Very much appreciated and I’m looking forward to getting in framed and mounted in my office.
All the best,