Millennials; The Emerging Market (and the death of brands?)

Marketing To Millennials: Changing Attitudes means Changing Ideas

I’m a marketer. That’s what I call myself when people ask “What do you do?”, but what I really do is study human behavior and help small business owners adapt to that. Sales Consulting is a lot of my work, but really, all sales is human behavior at its root. It’s the moment a person with a need finds a solution, and that need/solution journey is what fuels most things we do.

We’re in a very interesting, and perhaps unprecedented time in America when it comes to marketing to generations. If you listen to twentysomethings talk, and observe their behavior, the purchase conversation is much different. Already there is wide conversation about not owning cars or houses, sharing music, movies, games and other core retail goods that have driven the young economy throughout the last half of the 20th century.

Why We Buy From Brands

Before, we bought from our parents’ brands. We trusted them. I remember vividly being advertised to in cartoons we watched, and there was no consciousness of not wanting to buy from the same brands as my parents bought from.

Then the 80s hit. MTV was the first salvo fired at current marketing. We didn’t know it at first, but the idea of sitting and watching music videos was going to change everything.

Pepsi was next. “The Choice of a New Generation” was a monumental shift in thinking in the field of advertising, but it worked because popular thinking was changing. In a masterful move, Pepsi actually positioned itself as “Not Coke”, as opposed to the traditional positioning of trying to take over the number one position or gain marketshare from the competition. In doing so, Pepsi pointed itself straight at th eyounger generation, understanding that they would gain lifelong customers. There’s a lesson in this that is solid gold for any business, but that’s not the point of this post.

Pepsi Commercial: The Choice of a New Generation

Millennials are the children of the recipients of that advertising, and thus that thinking. That statement made some of you feel very old.

Here’s what I’m talking about in a nutshell: I DVR a show called “Celebrity Name Game”, hosted by Craig Ferguson (I’m a huge fan). The premise of the show is to get two teams of two people each, close friends, spouses, etc… and have them guess certain celebrities names (or other famous  things) by the clues given. It’s like Jeopardy on steroids.

Here’s where it gets relevant. Craig had two sisters on, both in their twenties, very smart, college educated and bright. One category was “Brand Mascots”. These two girls did not recognize The Marlboro Man (understandable), Colonel Sanders, Mr. Peanut and Chef Boyardee. There are some obvious qualifiers here, but I think it’s significant that, even after being given an exhaustive list of clues, even to the point of skipping the question, they could not call the mascot to mind. Even after being told the answer, they had never heard of them.

Certainly, brand mascots are forgotten from generation to generation. Surely there are people reading this who only know the Staypuff Marshmallow man from the movie “Ghostbusters” (if you don’t know this reference, you need to step back, re-evaluate your life choices, then go watch that movie), Marlboro abandoned the famous nature of The Marlboro Man, and others.

Staypuft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters


So what does that mean for you? Savvy marketers and business owners, large or small, can’t ignore many other indicators that buying behavior is shifting in a way we haven’t seen before. I believe what is happening is that the current generation of 20-ish folks are looking back at the mistakes of previous generations and not wanting to commit to big purchases, and some o fhtat even transfers to relationships.

Without purchasing houses, new cars and other big ticket items, along with sharing smaller purchases like music and movies,  this will shift the way we buy and sell in coming generations. Without a home purchase, what happens with al of the  supporting purchases – flooring, cabinets, draperies, etc…? And what about all the big box retail that goes along with home ownership, like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Pier 1, etc…?  Without buying new cars in droves, what happens to the entire accompanying finance and repair industry that walks alongside the new car industry?

Maybe you don’t own one of these giant conglomerates of industry, but you most certainly sell into the age group, and you would be wise to listen to what they have to say about the way they buy from you.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know how great I am or how clueless I am!


2019-10-18T06:32:09-06:00 By |Marketing Strategy Austin|Comments Off on Millennials; The Emerging Market (and the death of brands?)

About the Author:

I'm Kyle Bailey. I'm a sales consultant and SEO & Wordpress expert living in Austin, Tx and working with clients nationwide. I love helping clients, good Tex-Mex, and great music!