Getting Closer to the Youth Market

On March 25, 2015, ESOMAR took time to promote their upcoming summer academy. Part of the festival of learning will include deeper insights into cross-generational branding. Joeri Van den Bergh, of InSites Consulting, and author of the book How Cool Brands Stay Hot, provided a first glance at the topic.

Millennials, or those presently aged 18 – 32, were the focus of Joeri’s discussion. The model he describes in the book can be seen below. It is based on perceptions that a brand is cool, real, and unique along with the Millennial’s self-identification with the brand and the degree to which the brand connects to happiness. When these five dimensions are rated highly then Joeri’s research indicates it will drive increased word of mouth (brand conversations) and foster a more positive brand image. Ultimately, this will lead to brand leverage, based on Net Promoter Score.


Of the dimensions measured in the model, one stands above the others. Brand self-identification, see the dashed line above, explains up to half of the variance in brand leverage, or willingness to recommend.

Joeri posed the question “Why do Millennials use brands?” Is it to impress others or simply generate more fun in their life? Millennials engage with brands to have more fun in their lives. They are at the stage where life’s burdens are not weighing them down – they want to celebrate life! As marketers we should foster the relationship our brands have with the concept of fun.

The second question to arise is “When is Gen Y (aka Millennials) most impressed by an event?” Is it when they are surprised or when all their friends are going? Well this is certainly a social generation, but as it turns out members of this cohort are most impressed when the event provides something new and different. Co-creation is critical to the youth market. In the pursuit of celebrating life Gen Y is fond of coming together and creating their own vision. This applies to events as well as brands.

Beyond just celebrating Millennials are at the stage where they must live and learn. Joeri asked which was more important to go shopping or to learn a new skill. Overall, learning a new skill and expanding their knowledge base was deemed more important than shopping by Millennials. There was a gender skew, as might be expected.

Joeri’s research shows that being bold, in the mind of Millennials, involves having longer-term goals. Do not fear, they still like their short-term thrills, as evidenced by many of the activities they have on their bucket lists, but they are also tuned into longer term goals such as becoming a parent and getting married. Gen Y sees being successful as their most important dream.

Key takeaways – if you are tasked with marketing to Millennials throw what you know about brand marketing out the window. This is a cohort that wants to co-create their own vision of life’s celebration and have their friends come along. They connect with brands that can support their celebratory nature. To foster this cohesion we have to get down into the trenches with them and allow ourselves to have some fun.

Greg Timpany directs the research efforts for Global Knowledge in Cary, North Carolina, and runs Anova Market Research. You can follow him on Twitter @DataDudeGreg.


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