The hot new segment for marketers to try and tap into is the “Millennial” market. Roughly aged between 18 and 30, millennials are seen as a young and hip audience for brands to engage with. However some attempts by brands have left millennials *screaming*.
BrewDog – Pink IPA
BrewDog has grown into a serious player in the drinks industry, mostly thanks to its younger customers who want to spend that little bit more on a tasty beer. Since their humble beginnings in Scotland, they’ve managed to maintain a hipster and DIY feel, despite being billion pound company as of last year. However, one well-meaning but poorly executed campaign left a flat taste with its customers.
The brewer’s recent campaign was designed to coincide with International Women’s Day and highlight gender and pay inequality. BrewDog produced a new beer, Pink IPA, as a “A beer for women. A beer for equality.” While the campaign was purposely satirical and used the colour pink to show up other lazy tropes used by other companies, it failed miserably.
The company meant well in trying to raise awareness of the disparity in pay for women around the world. But BrewDog’s efforts have been branded patronising and vulgar.
Virgin Trains – Avocard
Everyone knows train fares in the UK are hideously expensive. The government announced last year they will introduce a new railcard to help those afford rail travel and it’s been dubbed, you guessed it, the millennial railcard.
The roll out of the 26-30 Railcard was a disaster and left many people unable to purchase one of the 10,000 cards initially available. So who should step in and try and appeal to a younger audience than touchy-feely brand Virgin Trains?
Playing on the most cliche of cliche stereotypes about young people, Virgin Trains announced it would honour tickets purchased with the 26-30 Railcard with the physical ID card, as long as millenials presented a real avocado along with their ticket (plus proof of age).
This pragmatic stunt obviously grated with anyone under the age of 30 and is the latest in the faux-obsession with avocados and millennials. Following the “stop buying avocados and you can afford a house” trape, Virgin badly misjudged this one. The company was labeled condescending, with young people pointing out the whole need for railcards would be unnecessary if train fares weren’t so eye-watering.
Hillary Clinton – Three Emojis
An example from across the pond, and one of the many straws on the camel’s back of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, was her attempt to engage with young voters.
In what was an attempt to try and be “down with the kidz” the Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton asked her 22 million followers “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in three emojis or less” In what might have been a throw-away tweet, this was an attempt by a serious politician to engage with younger votes which fell flat on its face.
The criticism mainly fell on the appearance that Clinton was making light of serious issues and again millennials felt talked down to. While this wasn’t a full expensive campaign like BrewDog’s or a reactive effort like Virgin Trains’, it seems stupid to presume they just communicate in hieroglyphs.
Marketing to millennials can work very well if done properly. But it is important to remember that they’re not avocado-addicted, emoji-loving young people, but in fact a core segment of people, some of whom have been proven to show extreme brand loyalty to the right companies.