Millennials are changing the game to serve higher purpose
The aim is to add meaning to life and value to world
Brand Associate Director at Added Value THE TV series Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world for a number of reasons.
They’re hooked because GoT has reinvented the rules for the fantasy genre and television storytelling. Unlike every other story out there, this is one where you can’t predict what’s going to happen next. In fact, the very thing you predict is probably guaranteed not to occur.
The Millennial Generation is having the same effect on the world of business, brands and marketing. They’re changing the rules, inserting a new paradigm, one that promises to offer as many opportunities as challenges.
Why? Because they’re just so different from every other generation we’ve created marketing strategies for.
The way they’ve grown up and the experiences they have had are affecting the way in which they approach their lives as well as the role brands and organisations can play in their lives. As a result, they’re not only changing the rules of the game, they’re changing the game itself.
Unlike previous generations, where a brand’s role was focused on helping consumers express themselves or gain social credibility, Millennials are looking for brands that help them bring meaning to their lives and value to the world.
The brands that are connecting successfully with Millennials are those that recognise they need to aim higher, that they need to elevate their purpose beyond building shareholder value or short-term profits.
These brands focus on bringing value to the communities they serve – going beyond launching a new item to purchase, to launching a new solution that works.
Simple Bank in the US is an example of such a brand.
Its mission, articulated by its founder and chief executive Josh Reich, is: “To help consumers worry less about money by building a new banking brand that is modern, cool, transparent, and trustworthy.”
To deliver on this, Simple Bank has removed critical customer pain points, like fees. Simple Bank does not charge for account maintenance or overdrafts or low balances. It makes its money through interchange and interest margins.
In doing so, it offers a relationship built on trust and transparency – a quality lacking in the financial services category – and one that is helping the brand win over the millennial generation and transform it into powerful advocates for the brand.
Netflix is another example. It broke the “rules” of broadcasting to bring more enjoyment, flexibility and convenience to its many audiences.
By releasing a full series at once, instead of one episode a week, it gives the control to the viewer how they can decide when and how quickly they view a show. It’s a simple, elegant solution successfully empowering Netflix viewers.
Oreo, another great example, connects with Millennials in a game- changing kind of way by elevating its purpose beyond any other biscuit brand out there. For example, it produced a rainbow cookie in support of gay pride.
It also regularly invites Millennials to its think-tanks to co-create fun experiences involving an Oreo biscuit. These experiences tend to receive much social media attention, not only because of great digital strategy, but because they’re fun, surprising and interesting.
How can your organisation respond to the new paradigm that the Millennial Generation is creating?
Every organisation, every brand has a role to play in solving the challenges we face as a society. Brands that actively take up that role and do so in an authentic manner are sure to garner attention. Brands that demonstrate commitment with time, money and resources will not only be noticed but gain fans.
Millennials do not place brands on a pedestal but regard themselves as equal. As a result, their tolerance for inauthentic endeavours is that much lower.
Organise your strategy and put your brand’s purpose at the heart of everything you do to make this new paradigm work for you.
As digital natives, Millennials are inherently sceptical of content. When things go wrong, fluff pieces or cover-ups don’t work. Better to acknowledge the mistake, learn from it and demonstrate that your brand is stronger because of it.
Millennials are trend starters and shapers in their own right. Invite them in and look for opportunities to co-create. Give them a role to play in helping your brand achieve its purpose – and in doing so, you may get the opportunity to help them achieve theirs.
Millennials are not going to waste their time or their data on something they’ve seen, heard or experienced before.
Brand teams that take a “steal with pride” or “copy and reapply” approach are going to fall short. Create a space for your creative teams to experiment and try new things, because that’s where the fresh ideas will come from.
Millennials will let you know when they’re delighted or disappointed with your brand. As such, the better your brand becomes at communicating, the better your chances of winning respect. The bottom line?
To win with this game-changing generation, your brand needs to aim higher, be courageous and experiment with new solutions and new ways of connecting.
Your brand needs to be more like a khaleesi in The Game of Thrones.
The TV series Game of Thrones has reinvented the rules for fantasy, just as Millennials are changing the rules for brands.