7 Steps to Advertising to the Emerging Gen Z Consumer

Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials.

Generation Z, the post-Millennial group of digital natives born after 1997 who have an insatiable desire for instant gratification and personalization in all aspects of their lives, is arguably the most unique generation to come. Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials.

Before we get into methods for marketing to Gen Z, it’s important to understand who this generation is and the qualities that make them unique. Generation Z has never lived in a world without the web. The Internet has always existed for Gen Z; though it has evolved into an entire entity in the last decade or so, life without an online presence is but a vague and distant memory to them. In this day and age, 96% of Generation Z members own a smartphone and, on average, they spend more than three hours a day perusing their devices. Social media is the beast that lies within these smartphones and has proven to be a powerful tool highly utilized by this generation.

For some, reaching Generation Z may seem difficult for this very reason — from the outside in, they are seemingly out of touch with the real world. For advertisers, however, it has made Gen Z more reachable than any preceding generation. Making a connection has a whole new meaning in advertising, due to the realm of social media and smartphones. Here are best practices on how to reach and engage with the Gen Z audience:

Reaching the Gen Z Audience

While Gen Zers have earned a reputation as arduous customers, there are various methods advertisers can tap into to successfully sell their brands/products to this tenacious bunch. As a well-informed and arguably opinionated generation, they generally respond well to brands that earn their loyalty as customers. This is unique to Gen Z, as other generations have typically chosen what they consume based on tradition. And just how can advertisers earn their loyalty? Sell the all-encompassing brand and its story to give it a sense of relatability.

Authenticity

When determining how to best reach this demographic, one word should be kept top of mind: authenticity. Research shows that 63% of Generation Z want marketing from “real” people, as opposed to celebrity endorsers. I put “real” in quotation marks, because this category does not stop at trusted friends and family of Gen Zers. A trusted source or friend can be found anywhere from an inner circle to their favorite social media influencers and bloggers. Influencer marketing has proven successful with this generation, because hearing about a product from an average, everyday person (with 10,000-plus social media followers, that is) resonates more deeply with Gen Z than seeing a high-profile celebrity endorse everyday items.

Influencers

Influencers are more trusted by Generation Z because they don’t seem like they’re trying to persuade; rather, they’re just filling their audience in on something they enjoy. In turn, influencer marketing does not feel like corporate manipulation. Furthermore, their followers are just that: people who follow and are invested in their lives. They are already sold on the person, which makes it easy to trust their opinion.

Keep Reaching Out/Retargeting

Online retargeting is key in engaging this generation and staying top of mind. Once Gen Zers begin researching a brand, it is vital to remain relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to do so. It is an easy way to take them through the buying process, so they end up as loyal brand advocates. As a generation obsessed with fast-paced, instantaneous moments, it can be easy to forget about something if it’s not reinforced. Retargeting — by means of social media and banner and display ads — is paramount to success with Gen Zers.

With the power of online retargeting, however, it is important to put a cap on the frequency, as to not fatigue the potential buyers. If a member of this group sees an ad too frequently, it can wind up in lost interest. They may feel it is being pushed too hard on them — which is quite the opposite of feeling authentic and caring.

Authentic Reviews

Online reviews are another important factor when Generation Z considers a product. Creating a space where they can hear from people of a similar background in a written or spoken testimonial to the product can make all the difference. Reviews get customers involved and allow their voices to be heard, tying in an element of personalization. In order to receive genuinely positive and highly regarded reviews from Gen Z, it’s important a company is honest, maintains the quality it guarantees, and makes them feel special throughout the process. They don’t want to be considered another number; rather, they’d like to feel included and impactful.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Generation Z also cares deeply about brands that have a positive social or environmental impact. It is of the utmost importance for a brand to come across as one that cares — in all aspects. Though Gen Z can seem like they lack character or substance, because they spend so much time disconnected from the world around them, this group actually has a tendency to express their values online and want to vocalize those beliefs. Therefore, they appreciate when a company does the same. Voicing inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability can majorly impact a Gen Z target while they determine whether a brand is worthy of their purchase. Typically, members of this generation look at a brand from a holistic standpoint before deciding to become a customer or not. This is why a company’s social media presence is one of the most important upkeeps. Serving as a place to express oneself, it’s the prime method to communicate a brand’s the progressive values.

Engagement

Ultimately, the best way to engage with Gen Z and make them purchase is to foster a connection that does not feel contrived. They love realness above all and prefer that a company is upfront with what it has to offer and what it values holistically. With technology at the tips of their fingers, Gen Z members have almost always done their research before purchasing. This is why marketing to them is more crucial than ever: the way a brand portrays itself online and the decisions it makes can make or break its profitability. Advertising geared toward Gen Z should always pique their interest and keep that interest alive until they decide it’s time to buy. The initial point of contact in getting this audience’s attention will push them to look further into a brand to ensure it’s something they’re interested in putting their money toward. As such, it is vital to a company’s success to maintain strong marketing and advertising tactics — from start to finish, throughout the buying process.

Brands: Show You Care About Gen Z

The bottom line of advertising to the Generation Z audience is that you should always sell the brand as one that cares not only about its own success, but also about the success and ultimate happiness of its customers. Maintaining happy customers, at the end of the day, is the main driving force behind the success of any Gen Z-focused company.

Are Boomers Really Underserved by Digital Marketers?

Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Digital marketers see future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Did you hear the one about the entitled calling out the entitled?

I’m entitled. I was born during the peak year of the Baby Boom — and one thing I never had to think about was being ignored by marketers. Even digital marketers today.

Riding the “age wave” as a consumer, I was courted by brands from a tender young age. I was taught young how to be a good American consumer, and I was duly paid attention to by marketers.

And though the peak year of the Baby Boom presented challenges growing up — we all competed fiercely for college placements, job placements, housing, and status — it also prepared us well for the Reagan era’s rugged individualism, a concept and social structure that seems to have gone far, far away in our “it takes a Village” reality today. At least in the ’80s, I could afford to move to New York — though barely.

Witness a new generation — the children of Baby Boomers, Millennials — who are rising to dominate the workforce, and asserting new social values (built on inclusiveness, sustainability, fairness, and tolerance) and, gee, are brands paying attention to them! No, I’m not jealous — I’m thrilled. No, really!

Transparency, Authenticity, Sustainability, Diversity, On Demand — Brand Attributes That Appeal

According to a newly updated Deloitte Insights study, there are nearly as many Millennials as Boomers in the United States. These two generations are both forces for economic growth — as consumer spending drives two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Boomers certainly have more disposable income — and Millennials have more debt relative to income. But where digital strategy drives the marketing, Deloitte reports, Boomers may matter less, at least in practice. My guess: Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Also, Millennials live, work, and play online. Boomers consume digitally, too. But when you tune into the nightly television news, you know the audience is comprised of Boomers and the Silent Generation before them. (Granted, when I watch TV news, I’m also skimming my smartphone.) Just watch the ads for prescription drugs, incontinence products, memory care, nutraceuticals, and other products for an aging audience — and you know there’s hardly a soul under 40 (or 50) watching scheduled newscasts anymore. The cord-cutting is rampant when “triple-play” packages cost hundreds per month, and Millennial-led households and individuals don’t see any need or logic to pay like their parents do, even if they can afford it.

They consume media completely differently, and always can steam any live events, news included, from their own trusted sources fairly easily. Media consumption, disrupted.

Brand attributes are changing, too. Many direct-to-consumer brands, popular among Millennials, have arisen not just because of perceived convenience and superior product, if that is indeed true — but because they connect using data flows that recognize the consumer from device to device, and learn in the process (that matters). They also connect because of what the brand represents, by establishing emotional and identity connection. Does the brand speak to the individual with respect and display a social aptitude? If the answer is yes, you have a better chance of gaining business and loyalty. It helps, too, that marketing is personalized at mass scale – and product personalization is booming. As “social” a cohort as Millennials are, they still demand “rugged individualism” when tailoring the product or service to their own wants, needs, and interests. For any of us at any age, we love such personalized connections, too.

So let’s congratulate Millennials, their digital prowess, and the brands’ love affair they are experiencing on their devices — and that I’ve enjoyed for decades elsewhere everywhere. It’s not as if I’m ignored online, I know I’m still coveted. But let’s not talk about sex.

digital marketers
Photo: Chet Dalzell, Photo inside JFK – Alitalia Lounge, 2019. I’ve enjoyed the attention. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

Millennials Are Spending More on Health and Wellness

According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials are spending both their own money and that of their Boomer parents’, and what has their focus the most is health and wellness. Brands can tap into this, even if outside of the traditional health and wellness industries.

Millennials may have more educational debt than any previous generation, but they also have disproportionate spending power. According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials are spending both their own money and that of their Boomer parents’, who are providing more access to money and credit than we’ve seen before. So with all that spending power, what are they spending it on — and how should brands reach them? The secret is to emphasize health and wellness across diverse industries.

The Importance to Millennials About Signaling Their Own Health and Wellness

To understand just how important health and wellness are to Millennials, it may help to look at a particularly narrow market: luxury water bottles. Remember the rise of Nalgene in the mid-2000s? Relatively modest by today’s standards, these colorful, indestructible bottles were the first “status” water bottles. Today, that market is dominated by pricey S’well bottles, but also includes Yeti, bkr, Hydro Flask, and others. And according to NYU marketing professor Tülin Erdem, flaunting these bottles are about more than hydration.

In Erdem’s interpretation, water bottles are a way that Millennials signal health and wellness, and those signals are important. They also do drink more water than previous generations, but even those with little physical investment in wellness sport high-end water bottles, athleisure, and other wellness markers on a day-to-day basis as a means of attracting like-minded peers and making a statement about their identity.

Food and Drink Are Obvious Targets

One sector that has an obvious edge in marketing to Millennials are food and drink brands, those companies who produce goods directly implicated in health and well-being, but there are also brands putting a spin on this classic angle. Consider, for example, the stark contrast between tea and alcohol.

Both tea and alcohol are getting a lot of buzz with Millennials, and both are leaning hard into the wellness message. This is easy for tea; products like matcha are popular precisely because they offer functional health benefits, which adds to its appeal. Traditionally alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, are typically bad for one’s health and are a harder sell. As such, brands are making small adjustments like making beer more like juice in order to market what seems like a more “refreshing” beverage. The repositioning of beer brands is an effort that other industries also could use to make their products more appealing.

Health and Wellness Extends to Pet Products

At the most basic level, the pet food market is an enormous growth area, expected to surpass $8.21 billion by 2024, not including additional products like supplements, treats, and toys purchased by owners, but the area that’s really growing is natural pet food products. That’s because 29% of U.S. buyers seek to avoid artificial ingredients in pet treats. They want their pets to eat how they eat, and they even budget for it. Millennial pet owners, in particular, are especially likely to spend money on grain-free or other “free-from” pet diets.

It’s also no surprise that pet treats have also taken on a functional bent — and that’s getting these products into the hands of users. In fact, Pedigree’s DentaSTIX tooth cleaning product won a major advertising award in 2018, and the company saw 24% sales growth, year over year. The product offers pet owners what marketers call “a positive treating product” as an alternative to many of the other options on the market, and this boost in sales hinges largely on Millennials.

Making a Marketing Move

Following family, health and wellness are Millennials’ top priority, with 53% deeming these issues important to them, far above spirituality and career — and marketing departments and brands must keep this in mind. Unlike so many other brand trends, health and wellness are changing the entire shape of what people buy at a structural level. It’s a big change, and even classically “unhealthy” products — snack foods, alcohol, etc. — need to find ways to reorient their brands in every sector, from clothing to home goods to transportation, to reach today’s buyers.

How to Perform Generational Targeting in Direct Mail Marketing

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational targeting in direct mail
Credit: Getty Images by Jasper Cole

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational Targeting in Direct Mail

Boomers — As we age, it becomes hard to filter out distractions. This means that your direct mail should have a clear message in a big font. Do not clutter the mail piece with tons of copy and a bunch of images. Include white space around your copy and images to allow time for absorption without distraction. Because older brains filter out negative messages, you should accentuate the positive benefits of your product or service. They have time and, therefore, value more information before making a decision — unlike Gen Xers and Millennials. Make sure to respect their intelligence and include details about your product or service that are relevant to them. The more they are exposed to a message, company and brand, the more it becomes true for them. So make sure that your messaging on your mail piece matches your message on other channels.

Gen X — The first thing we need to note about Gen Xers is that they are very busy people; you will need to grab their attention quickly. Coupons are a great way to reach Gen X. They love a good deal. They love companies that do “good for society.” So when they make a purchase, they can also help out others. They like loyalty programs that help keep them on track through busy weeks and months. Keep in mind that this generation loves direct mail. Of course you need to send them mail pieces that are relevant, but you should expect good response rates from them. Because lack of time is an issue, make sure that you go with less copy and get right to the point of how your product or service can help them.

Millennials — The most important thing to know about Millennials is that they value social issues over economics. So you need to make sure that your messaging taps into that need. Another factor is innovation. This generation is always looking for the next best thing. How can your product or service fix their problems in a new way? Millennials love reviews, so make sure you provide real testimonials from customers on your direct mail pieces. They, like Gen X, are big on loyalty programs; so make sure you have a robust program.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each generation is comprised of unique people; not everyone will respond the same way. Don’t replace your other demographic targeting and segmentation strategies. These notations should help you shape your direct mail concepts, but by no means should they become the “be-all, end-all” strategy. Are you ready to get started?

Generational Marketing: Gen Z Goes to College

I’ve taught in colleges since 2005, and have shared my observations about Millennials in several Target Marketing blog posts. Recently, I realized that most of my current students aren’t Millennials, so my curiosity about psycho-demographics has me trying to observe the generational marketing characteristics of this new cohort of college students, arbitrarily defined as those born starting in 1997.

I’ve taught in colleges since 2005, and have shared my observations about Millennials in several Target Marketing blog posts. Recently, I realized that most of my current students aren’t Millennials, so my curiosity about psycho-demographics has me trying to observe the generational marketing characteristics of this new cohort of college students, arbitrarily defined as those born starting in 1997.

Of course, changes in generational attitudes don’t occur overnight, and so I didn’t walk into class one semester and say, “Wow, these kids are different!” The oldest Gen Zers were freshmen in 2015 and because the lines between the generations aren’t always distinct, I don’t have a large sample on which to base my generalizations. But here are some of my initial observations based on some recent classroom encounters.

Technology and Ageism

Unlike the students of five-plus years ago, the current group does not automatically assume that older people (myself included) are digital idiots. Perhaps that’s because their parents are more technologically savvy and their grandparents have social media accounts. Although most identified their grandparents as laggards when it came to smartphone adoption in a recent assignment on the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, they don’t automatically assume that older people are technologically clueless. (See my post from 2016 on “Millennial Microagression”).

Financial Awareness

The cost of their education is always top-of-mind. It comes up frequently in classroom discussions about their consumption habits. Their formative years were marked by a time of economic uncertainty. In a recent marketing class at Rutgers, we were discussing how the economic environment affects marketing strategy and tactics. When I referenced the financial crisis of 2008, I realized that most of the students were in elementary or middle school during that time. Whether or not they experienced a parent’s job loss or home foreclosure firsthand, most understood that times were difficult and the financial future was not always assured.

Social Media-Cautious

In a recent assignment about retargeting, I asked them to cite examples of how their online activity led to seeing ads about things they posted or searched. Most referenced Google searches, and one student claimed that she was disadvantaged in coming up with examples because she has no social media accounts. Some have abandoned Facebook and, while they use Instagram, most keep their accounts private. By contrast, my experience with Millennials is that they were, and continue to be, much freer with their social media activity.

Look for more about Gen Z in upcoming posts.

The ‘Aging-in’ Opportunity for Healthcare Brands

Healthcare marketers might focus on the 65 and up segment because of perceived near-term needs that will generate revenue quickly, or they might target much younger adults to earn maternity and pediatric customers in the hopes of larger CLV. But there’s a middle group who may be more persuadable: The younger aging-in population.

Health systems increasingly use return on investment (ROI) metrics as a means of instilling discipline into the marketing function. In turn, a marketer might focus on the 65 and up segment because of perceived near-term needs that will generate revenue quickly, or they might target much younger adults to earn maternity and pediatric customers in the hopes of larger customer lifetime value (CLV) estimates. But there’s a middle group who may be more persuadable: The younger “aging-in” population.

I’m not referring to “aging-in” in the almost-ready-to-sign-up for Medicare sense, but rather to the 50-64 year old population that often seems overlooked in health system marketing plans. This demographic is working, has seniority with their employer, has favorable commercial insurance, and is starting to consume more health services. They are starting to pay attention to the health category.

This segment combines the tail-end of the Baby Boomers and the leading edge of Generation X. Their life experiences were shaped by hard rock, disco and pop music, political scandals, gas lines, economic booms and the Great Recession. And even though they may now take blood pressure or cholesterol medications, they maintain a self-perception of being younger and are looking forward to this window of time between the kids finally moving out and the contemplation of retirement.

So, how do you persuade them? Targeting from a media perspective is relatively easy. The harder part is avoiding the clichés of ‘senior marketing’ that turn-off this segment. Here are three tips:

  • Don’t overly focus on age as part of your visual or narrative message. This group intellectually understands they are getting older, but attitudinally pushes back on messages that seem designed for the ‘senior’ set. This is an important distinction from older segments that embrace the ‘senior’ designation and silver-haired imagery.
  • Focus on their motivations. These prospects are interested in experiences large and small that they may have previously delayed. The emphasis is on the ability to ‘do.’ This is strongly tied to a person’s motivations for new experiences and why your clinical service line needs to be in the context of enabling an engaged lifestyle with minimal disruption.
  • They carry a sense of responsibility. This segment will go online to do research and can be cynical about superficial content, so make sure there’s a “there, there” when they land on your campaign page. This group solves problems at work and will approach a service line in the same way. Once they land on your page, your content needs to be structured to allow for deeper dives into volume/quality, return to work speed, how to access, cost considerations and next steps.

The 50- to 64-year-old aging in place segment represents a strong segment with favorable income and insurance, rising health needs and an increasing wiliness to listen to your message — as long as you don’t make them feel old.

Malls Bank on Experiences for a Successful Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is in full swing! Where are consumers expecting to spend most of their shopping time? Not at a mall, according to the Synchrony Financial “2017 Pre-Holiday Study.”

The holiday shopping season is in full swing! Where are consumers expecting to spend most of their shopping time? Not at a mall, according to the Synchrony Financial “2017 Pre-Holiday Study.” The study shows that about 50 percent of consumers expect to do their holiday spending in a store, but out of that, only 38 percent of in-store shoppers plan to do that shopping in a mall.

Synchrony Holiday Shopper Insights In-Store PurchasesWhere will shoppers go instead of the mall? The majority of consumers (66 percent) say they will spend some time going to mass merchandiser retailers (e.g., Walmart, Target, etc.) and half of store shoppers say they will visit a stand-alone specialty apparel store.

The benefits of going into these stores are the one-stop shopping element. Mass merchandisers have a wide variety of items available at a relatively low price. So, you can buy a sweater for grandma and a toy for little Johnny without a lot of walking around. Stand-alone specialty apparel stores have the benefit of available parking and more personalized service.

Synchrony Holiday Shopper Insights Via GenerationsIf you do venture into the mall, the people you are most likely to see are Gen Z and Millennials. Those aged 18- to 25-years old are the ones who intend to spend the most time at the mall this year, with over 40 percent of them saying they will shop at a mall. The Gen X and Baby Boomer populations (aged 36 to 65) are the ones who say they will stay away. Only 33 percent of this population say they will be mall shopping.

Retailers have been putting an increased focus on strategies to get consumers to walk through their doors. Many retailers now give shoppers the ability to order online and pick-up in-store. This not only saves time for the consumer, but also gives the store the opportunity to up-sell or cross sell other items. Other retailers have been putting interactive experiences and restaurants in their stores to increase the “fun” factor. The last time I walked into a Williams Sonoma store, they were cooking an entire turkey dinner!

The future of the mall depends on maximizing these experiences. There are malls that have added restaurants, art installations and even amusement parks as part of the effort to draw more foot traffic. Many retail experts feel that the survival of the mall lies on its ability to attract shoppers with innovative services and entertainment, in addition to stores and products.

* Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents from the Synchrony Financial 2017 Pre-Holiday Study unless otherwise noted.

Millennial Irony: Now They Eat Out Too Much

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager. Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager.

Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

The new information comes from a survey by BankRate. And they at least had the sense to let a Millennial break the news to her fellow Millennials. Apparently Millennials money woes shouldn’t be blamed on avocado toast at all, it’s all the happy hours. (The Yahoo Finance article the video comes from had additional commentary on it as well.)

(Aside: Is she talking to me? Born 1977, am I Gen X, Millennial or a damn Xennial? I can’t freakin’ tell! Can we please make up our minds at least about this? Studying generations is like discovering a very uncomfortable version of time travel at 40. Like trying to Instagram while spinning in one of those old, banned metal merry-go-rounds. … I do not cook at home a lot.)

Let me tell you folks, I am SHOCKED!

Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.
Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.

Every time one set of data comes out saying this is what Millennials are and the impact they’re having, just wait a couple weeks and a new set of data will say the opposite.

So, are they killing restaurants or keeping them in business? And if they’re out eating and drinking multiple times a week, but classic bar and grills can’t bring them in, is the younger adults’ faults?

One thing’s for sure: They are spending money. In fact, judging from that video, Millennials are spending money more freely than just about any generation in history. So if you’re not getting a piece of that, that’s on you.

One other thing I’m sure of: Even though almost all the Millennials are out in the workforce now, a lot of corporate America and the researchers feeding them data still don’t know Jack about who this generation really is or how to reach them. (“Us”? I still can’t tell.)

If Millennials ‘Kill’ You, You Had It Coming

Last week, Millennials were blamed for “Killing Casual Dining” restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays (for Instagram, no less). And before that, it was napkins, and the institution of marriage, and even bar soap! But blaming Millennials for changing tastes is ridiculous.

Last week, Millennials were blamed for “Killing Casual Dining” restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays (for Instagram, no less). And before that, it was napkins, and the institution of marriage, and even bar soap!

Source: www.andrewandpete.com
Source: www.andrewandpete.com

But blaming Millennials for changing tastes is ridiculous.

If you think an emerging generation of consumers is killing your business, then you probably suck at business, and you had it coming.

No segment of the customer base is an enemy combatant. They’re just different target markets.

If your target market wants something you’re not offering, that’s not them “killing” you, that’s you not recognizing opportunity.

People aren’t going to TGI Fridays because TGI Fridays isn’t offering what they want. And you know what, it may never be able to offer them what they want. But that doesn’t mean the restaurant’s under siege. It’s just not adapting.

Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, we have a ton chef-driven restaurants springing up that don’t cost much more than casual dining, don’t take any longer, and have much, much better food!

That’s not a Millennial murder, that’s competition.

Why eat a 1000-calorie eggroll at a flare-pinned greasy spoon when I can hit the Blue Duck Sandwich Company for a porkroll burger that Thrillist named one of the best new burgers in America?

That’s a local restaurant in a shopping center around where I live in Northeast Philly. It’s not even downtown, it’s in a random residential-area shopping center (although they just opened two individual spinoff restaurants downtown because it’s been so successful).

When I was 20, TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesdays were great places to go. They were better than the other casual dining options.

Now there are dozens of individual, non-chain restaurants and bars and grills within a 10-mile radius of my little corner of lower Bucks County Pennsylvania that do what TGI Fridays used to do better than it ever did.

This is market Darwinism at work. These new restaurants are able to compete better because they offer customers more of what they want.

And beyond the dining experience, customers today are keenly aware that going to these restaurants means supporting someone’s dream project — often a Millennial’s dream project. Flair that.

Casual dining chains just aren't how Millennials express themselves today.
It’s them expressing themselves.

You know, perhaps the most patronizing aspect of this whole hit job is that old businesses that can’t adapt are blaming Millennial consumers for their failure. When they really should be blaming the Millennial entrepreneurs who are eating their lunch.

So if you feel for a second like Millennials are killing your business, stop feeling sorry for yourself and start looking for the opportunity. Because it’s out there, and if you can’t find it, they will.

How Do You Market to Perennials?

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century.” So she came up with the classification of Perennials.

Stereotyping Generations — Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, Perennials… and no, I’m not talking daisies, hostas or lilies (#plantnerd).

As a subscriber to a number of e-newsletters like theSkimm, The Hustle and NextDraft, I enjoy a lot of the world and national news brought to me, in a quick-take, often sassy format. And in the April 5 issue of NextDraft, I found out about Perennials.

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century,” regarding shoehorning people into just being their generation.

She wanted to regard them by mindset … something that’s a bit different for marketers, who are classically used to segmenting prospects and customers by demographics, such as age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, religion.

In a post she wrote in October 2016 — titled, “Meet the Perennials” — Pell breaks the group down into this:

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation.

Who’s not a Perennial? Someone who is close-minded, and who looks at life like a timeline, i.e., “By 30 I must accomplish this, this and this. By 40 I will have a growing family and will have reached management status. By 50 it’s time to slow down.”

Okay, so, as someone who is in the upper-age bracket of the Millennial generation, this speaks to me on some levels. I get sick and tired of being lumped into a group that can span nearly 20 years (I have very little in common with a 22-year-old, much less 15-year-old). That said, I face the a lot of the same challenges: dealing with student loan debt; struggling with job security; etc.

But while writing that sentence, it made me realize: hasn’t every generation dealt with those issues, too? In their own ways?

Pell closes her post with:

Being a Millennial doesn’t have to mean living in your parent’s basement, growing an artisanal beard, and drinking craft beer. Midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis. And you don’t have to be a number anymore. You’re relevant. You’re ever-blooming. You’re Perennial.

I appreciate the sentiment. But for marketers, how do you market to this group? Do you toss out demographic data, and instead focus on values? And is it worth it?

You tell me. And tell me what you think of the idea of Perennials … is it fitting, or just another buzzword-to-be?