The Millennial Brand Connection


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This presentation provides a general overview of the Millennial generation as well their core values, TRU Youth MONITOR themes and marketing implications and finally, rules for brand relationships. The Millennial Brand Connection is a must read for every marketer that is looking to reach the millennials generation—a generation with over 75,000,000 consumers and $890 billion in buying power.

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The Millennial Brand Connection

  1. 1. Millennial Brand Connection Research Findings Christian Ruzich Joe Mandrino
  2. 2. © 22014 Quick facts about the Millennial generation  Born between 1979 and 1997; ages 17-35 in 2014  Consists of more than 75,000,000 American consumers and is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers  Racial minorities comprise 41% of Millennials  42% are married or part of an unmarried couple living together; 55% have never been married  36% are parents  62% are head of the household  $889.3 billion annual Millennial buying power  29% are full-time students  43% of recent graduates now working are in jobs that don’t require a college education
  3. 3. © 32014 AUTHORSHIP AUTONOMY AUTHENTICITY Core values of the Millennial generation © 32014
  4. 4. © 42014 Core value #1: Authorship “I wish I had more opportunities to customize products to really fit my lifestyle” 2014 US Yankelovich MONITOR They want to define their own dreams, invent their own solutions and assert their will in the marketplace Millennials are shaped by a keen sense of being special and an unprecedented level of technology-proficiency They ultimately want to have a say in the structure and specifications of the things they buy 59%Total US 71%Age 18-34 vs.
  5. 5. © 52014 Core value #2: Autonomy Answered “extremely” or “very” when asked to describe “importance of spending time researching a product before buying is” 2013 US Yankelovich MONITOR They are comfortable going their own way, but they also enjoy standing out within the crowd Millennials relish independence and expect to be able to exercise it As a result, Millennials stay savvy when it comes to what they buy 66%Age 18-34
  6. 6. © 62014 Core value #3: Authenticity “It’s a person’s responsibility to stand up for his/her beliefs, even if they are unpopular” 2014 TRU Youth MONITOR They have a keen ability to see through hype and exaggeration and expect honesty, integrity and upfront communication as a baseline Millennials prize being true to themselves—and expect others to be true to themselves as well Not only do they value authenticity in themselves, but also in the companies they buy from 81% Age 18-29 76% Age 18-29 “Companies that make sincere efforts to invest in or be part of my community deserve my loyalty” “I appreciate it when companies make it clear what values they stand for” 87% Age 18-29
  8. 8. © 82014 Theme #1: Rational Exuberance Young people are more carefully contemplating their purchases than they might have a few years ago. Rather than settling for less, these individuals see themselves as savvy shoppers who know how to get more for less. The Google Samsung Chromebook has revolutionized the “standard” price of computers. At $280, the Chromebook provides the basics of what most young people need (Internet access) from a well-known brand. TJ-Maxx has created a new term that captures the essence of Rational Exuberance: The Maxxinista, a savvy and sophisticated young woman who saves while still staying in style. Marketing Implications • Capitalize on the joy young people feel about finding good deals and sharing their success with others. • Be clear about your value proposition and explicit about why smart, savvy shoppers should want your product in their lives.
  9. 9. © 92014 Theme #2: Brand in Hand From purchase influence to social influence, the youth consumer has a lot of impact on brands, thanks to the reach of their devices. It’s critical to understand how they communicate both on- and offline in order to maximize their interactions with brands for both sides. Marketing Implications • Don’t feed the trolls. A savvy social media manager knows whether to take a step back and ignore the bait OR to push forward and make your brand shine. • Bring online symbols and customs into offline experiences with your brand. Nordstrom has taken the simple yet effective approach of tagging Pinterest-popular merchandise in store with the Pinterest logo. Shoppers know that a product is social media approved—which can be more important than a good review in the mainstream media.
  10. 10. © 102014 Theme #3: Quiet Riot Taco Bell took advantage of the accessibility and immediacy of social media by granting a fan’s wish to have a Speedo that read “Think Outside the Bun.” Capitalizing on brand advocacy by being attentive and accessible can create affinity not normally built by traditional marketing campaigns. Marketing Implications • Pay attention. Be aware of conversations happening around your brand, listen to fans and critics, and respond as appropriate (remember, don’t engage the trolls!) • Brand affinity can be either won or lost in the battle against the Quiet Riot. TACO BELL The proliferation of social media has created an ongoing, self-sustaining existence online, whether you encourage it or not. Conversations are being had with you and about you. Paying attention is mandatory.
  11. 11. © 112014 Theme #4: Hypocralypse Beware: An army of tech-enabled fact-checkers is ready to surface your every half-truth and misstep. Celebrities and brands often get in hot water on Twitter and other social media with followers who call out hypocrisy or bring up old scandals. Recently, Jenny McCarthy was the target of backlash on Twitter over her controversial anti-vaccination stance. Marketing Implications • Being aware of fans’ and critics’ opinions of, and issues with, your brand can keep you from becoming easy prey.  Think through all consumer-facing actions as if they could go wrong and take measures to protect your brand.
  13. 13. © 132014 Rule #1: Consumers first, Millennials second Connecting to young people is one thing, but pandering to them is another – and marketing-savvy Millennials know the difference  Targeting your brand specifically towards young people and you run the risk of it being seen as something to grow out of. Millennials are increasingly practical about purchase decisions in the wake of the Great Recession, and they are completely willing to do the same cost/benefit analyses as consumers of any other generation. Case Example  Youth retail leaders, including Abercrombie, Aeropostale, and American Eagle, have seen staggering revenue losses as of recent, and experts see no signs of a rebound. High unemployment, coupled with faster fashion cycles driven by the Internet, have driven young shoppers towards more alluring, fast-fashion outlets, such as H&M and Forever 21. Failing to adapt to their target’s changing attitudes and sensibilities could signal the demise of the once key players in the youth retail category.
  14. 14. © 142014 Rule #2: Inclusivity over ethnicity Inclusivity is an inherit need state for Millennials today, meaning brands must see beyond simple ethnic diversity and embrace diversity in all its forms  Actions like expanding product lines and price-points and targeting communications to appeal to different genders, ages, interests, and tastes are, quite simply, the table stakes for engaging this generation. Case Example  Coca-Cola ran an ad during the Super Bowl showing Americans of various racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientations as “America The Beautiful” is sung in several different languages. When faced with backlash by some via news outlets and social media, Coca-Cola issued a press release stating that the ad was “a great example of the magic that makes our country so special, and a powerful message that spreads optimism, promotes inclusion, and celebrates humanity – values that are core to Coca-Cola.”
  15. 15. © 152014 Rule #3: Legacy brands can’t rest on their laurels Social media provides smaller brands with the means to quickly establish reach and awareness out of proportion to their size  While the younger generation does appreciate a brand with longevity—often seeing it as a proxy for quality—they will not hesitate to switch to a different brand if they feel it connects better with them. Top brands, despite being nearly synonymous with the categories they represent, must preserve their momentum. This doesn’t mean drastic recipe changes or line extensions, but rather simpler, tactical changes to show the brand in a more youthful light. Case Example  Sperry, the footwear brand most notorious for manufacturing boat shoes since 1935, has seen a recent uptick in popularity among Millennials, based on their comfort and relatively low-cost cool, in addition to a refresh of their advertising and brand properties, which aim to target younger consumers, without straying away from the brand’s nautical roots.
  16. 16. © 162014 Rule #4: Monitor category threats, not just brand threats In today’s environment of disruptive change, entire categories are just as subject to market changes as individual brands are  Brands faced with the prospect of a declining category can buy some time by owning the category they operate in, but they must use that time wisely by innovating and looking towards the future. Case Example  In an attempt to avoid being viewed as outdated, well established hotel chains are taking measures to attract Millennials. Starwood’s Element and Aloft and Hyatt’s Hyatt Place have been designed with modern amenities and simple design to appeal and cater to a new generation of Millennial travelers. Meanwhile Holiday Inn (and even Country Inn!) have both recently undertaken initiatives to “refresh” the aesthetics of their locations to be more welcoming and inviting to this target.
  17. 17. © 172014 Rule #5: Millennials connect with both brands AND corporations The difference between corporate marketing and brand marketing is understood by twentysomethings, which leads to a decision for corporations: is it more important that Millennials respect the corporate umbrella, or buy (and buy into) the brands underneath it?  While most day-to-day interaction is with the brands, it is important not to neglect the corporate image entirely. Millennials are socially- conscious consumers, and in today’s world of instant information and viral communication, it’s safe to assume that they will quickly come to understand what they think a corporate parent stands for, and that could lead to changes in attitudes and behaviors related to the brands themselves. Case Example  Recently, popular online dating site OKCupid interrupted access to the site via Mozilla’s Firefox browser and displayed a message informing members that Mozilla’s CEO was an outspoken opponent to equal rights for gay couples. The message urged members to choose another browser to access OKCupid as a result, and reinforced OKCupid’s commitment to bringing people together, regardless of their sexuality. News of the message went viral, and a mere three days later Mozilla’s CEO stepped down and the company issued a public apology.
  18. 18. © 182014 Thank you! Christian Ruzich 312.951.4815 Joe Mandrino 312.951.4811