Q&A|Millennials: Marketing to a Global Generation

On 10 December 2015, we held a live webinar focusing on how to successfully sell FMCG products to the millennial generation as well as global and regional trends within this demographic sector.

Below we answer the questions we received from attendees after the webinar. Watch the full session on-demand here.

Q: What makes a brand formula able to be embraced by millenials with nostalgia? Why do some campaigns work, like old Coke machines, while others do not?

A: If only there was a winning formula!! Brands appealing to the power of things retro have to tread carefully between projecting cool and looking like they are trying too hard. I think good cultural awareness and understanding can help brands make the right decision here. A good source is Euromonitor’s own consumer analysis that strives to cover these small shifts in consumer interests and buying aspirations with an eye on broader cultural trends. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­How probable are millenials to react well to sponsored content? All examples of Surge were with this delivery strategy… Don’t they ignore it and are typically cynical? How can you effectively sponsor content to reach Millennials as a brand?­

A: As you rightly point out, Millennials do not warm to traditional advertising, being much more likely to listen to their peers, online reviews and to popular Millennial influencers such as vloggers. This has meant that brands, including FMCG brands, are having to ‘join the dialogue’ in assorted creative ways.  These could be via social networking, pop up ads and on YouTube or by being part of video blogs where vloggers are open to sponsorship and to directly promoting brands that they favour, or by innovating with offbeat campaigns and competitions that arouse the curiosity of this demographic. Brands can also gain customer approval among Millennials by aligning themselves with worthy causes by sponsoring green or charitable endeavours in some way, perhaps by donating a small share of profits to them, to make the consumer feel that by buying their product they are participating in something worthwhile. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­how does the economic condition/crisis of a nation have its impact on the behaviour of millennials?

A: Naturally, Millennials, the youngest of whom are just starting out in the world of work, are affected by economic downturns and national crises in terms of clipped horizons – particularly diminished work opportunities – as has been seen recently in countries such as Greece and Italy.   Another consequence is that Millennials are delaying life’s milestones such as buying a home, marriage and children. Many are remaining in the family home or returning to it after college, a phenomenon known as ‘boomerang kids’. This creates multigenerational families with impacts on family buying behaviour. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­Can you give examples of how some companies have catered fashion and beauty products particularly in ecommerce to attract millennials?­

A: Clothing and footwear companies are well known for actively engaging “millennials” via social media (through co-creation featuring user-generated content) and co-branding. Turning tweets into treats, or sharing content via platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc. have proved to be one of the most effective ways to approach this target group.  From a retailing /e-commerce perspective, a good example is Asos, producing a huge amount of lifestyle content (Asos Insiders, or  Asos As Seen On Me) featuring personalized and customized content for “millennials” to engage with and share. From a brand perspective, there are several brands tapping into the same customization and personalization trend: Nike (favourite brand among “millennials”) is quite active in this sense (via NikeiD). Another route heavily used by brands to attract “millennials” is the launch of limited editions (normally collaborating with top artist/designers). One example of this is the recent H&M collaboration with Balmain, proving extremely successful among “millennials” globally. – Jorge Martin, Project Manager: Apparel & Footwear

A: While mass brands have been able to engage young beauty buyers with affordable products (particularly the likes of Kiko and Rimmel) it seems for certain products and brands, young consumers will trade up to more premium alternatives. Key influencers play an important role in this; social media and technology are integral in connecting  young consumers to products.

For example, Lush is a highly coveted brand amongst millennial and gen z consumers who flock to purchase bath bombs, face masks and a host of organic cosmetics at a much higher price than drugstore brands. It is not coincidental that vlogger Zoella often posts ‘lush haul’ videos on her youtube channel reviewing and promoting lush products. Zoella’ has almost 10 million subscribers on you tube and is a key influencer for teens in the UK. Any brands she mentions are catapulted onto the radar of young consumers, regardless of price point. – Ildiko Szalai, Senior Analyst – Beauty and Personal Care

Q: Is there a notable gender divide in millennial behavior or attitudes?­

A: At the moment, with the ubiquitous love for mobile communications and many other tech gadgets, especially among Millennials, also often called digital natives, perhaps the interesting thing is how the gender divide is narrowing. Women clearly love tech gadgets too. Various surveys show that more women than men are now gamers, largely due to smartphone apps. Wearable technology like smartwatches and activity monitors are also relatively gender neutral. We also see  popular sportswear brands like converse and North Face which offer relatively genderless offerings and help spread unisex design. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­How are millennials striking the balance between avoiding materialism (sharing & caring) with the increased desire to purchase items and feeling like “they deserve things”?­

A: An interesting question! I’d say that people will always consume! The sharing and caring ethos that lies behind the popularity of the sharing economy is still accompanied by consumption aspirations. For instance, Millennials might decide to sell used items on eBay in order to upgrade to new smartphone models, or clothing from the latest fashion ranges. What’s interesting too is that buying ‘pre-loved’ items is much more acceptable among Millennials. They are comfortable self-treating with second-hand things. Another way to consume and stay green is to go for experiences rather than things, rent rather than buy, and buy from companies that are transparent about the entire production process or about supporting good causes, and making themselves known as brands that care about what happens to their used products in the future such as Dell. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­Can you expand any on how energy-conscious millennials are/are becoming, and whether this has an impact on the way they live? ­

A: This is something that’s difficult to measure so it’s hard to be sure if environmental awareness is translating into efforts to cut down on energy use. Green consciousness hasn’t prevented Millennials being huge fans of budget airlines, for instance. Certainly the convenient meeting point between green awareness and thrift will see many Millennials striving not to waste energy to keep costs down though. Energy providers in some countries are trying to encourage energy-saving habits by rewarding consumers who manage to cut their energy consumption with discounts. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­Africa seems to be missing from this webinar (apart from snacking)… Any comments on this? Specifically South Africa as a population with higher spending power­

A: International brands are increasingly catering to a young and expanding demographic in South Africa where large shopping malls have provided a platform for international fashion brands. Many shopping centres, in particular, have developed in the previously disadvantaged township areas, focusing on supplying the needs of the rising black middle class. Examples of these include the Maponya and Jabulani malls in Soweto. According to Jos Kuper, writing for Politicsweb.co.za: “For many in the black middle class, this is the first generation to have achieved this status, and possessions and brands are important signals that they have arrived”.

Nigeria too has experienced a notable expansion in its young, educated middle class. The rising disposable income of these middle class consumers has  increased demand for more consumer goods. According to an article in Trade Invest Nigeria, this growing number of young, middle class professionals and entrepreneurs has enough spending power to purchase upmarket goods and has a desire for luxury goods. New upmarket malls present an opportunity for these consumers to feed their desire for luxury goods and global brands. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­Can you expand on the “value for money” concept? Thanks.­

A: Value for money is understood differently by different consumers. There is a consensus though that value is not just about cheaper price, but about quality, longevity, ‘green’ attributes and other perceived pluses of a product or service. Internet-savvy Millennials look up to reviews from fellow consumers in talkbacks, social networking and blogs rather than advertising to help them decide what is worth buying too and therefore what offers value for them. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant

Q: ­Hi, do you have the same type of study on travel retail type of purchasing from millennials ? ­

A: Travel is an important area for millennials. Currently, they are estimated to account for around 20% of international travellers, and are forecast to increase their number of trips by almost 50% between 2015 and 2020 – with Asian millennials – especially Chinese consumers – of particular interest. Travel companies are working hard to attract millennials, with an increased focus on experience and authenticity over luxury, affordable pricing, self service and very high technology values. Peer-to-peer platforms – such as Airbnb – are also key for millennials, who seek out making real connections, authentic experience, value for money and strong use of technology and social media. – Angelo Rossini, Senior Travel Analyst

Q: ­How strong is the eco-trend/sustainability among millennials? Will they pay more for sustainable products?­

A: Numerous surveys and the buzz around current green-tinged events such as the recent climate change conference in Paris indicate Millennial passion for making the world they live in a better place. Current campaigns seeking to harness this Millennial green love include “The Earth Statement” which is moving those who care about climate change to “Save the World. Take a Selfie” and share to show their support. Likewise, a piece on tech site Mashable reporting: “With the hashtag #ClimateCatwalk, celebrities, photographers, editors, to stylists are utilizing their social presence to create a lively conversation about the talks” had almost 1000 shares alone, as at 16.12.15. – Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, Consumer Trends Consultant