There are very few heritage brands that are able to completely evolve and become millennial brands, according to Tony Lee, strategy director at digital marketing agency ntegrity.
A lot of heritage brands, meaning popular brands back in the 80s and 90s, Lee believes don’t know how to talk to millennials properly, without utilising big, attention-seeking moves.
Lee drew on recent examples such as the Cadbury and Vegemite mash-up as well as the Pizza Hut and meat pie combination. Chocolate brand Cadbury created a bar of chocolate combined with salty spread Vegemite. The combination drew a heap of social media posts about it, namely whether people liked it or not, as well as parodies of flavours such as chocolate and cat food, and chocolate and cement.
“It’s an attention seeking sort of technique getting to engage with millennials,” said Lee, “because they have this perception millennials are attention deficient. So they create something unusual and monstrous that creates that sort of attention.”
Which stems from marketer’s unfairly characterising millennials as attention deficient, said Lee.
“They think they’re vain and have demanding personas,” he said, however argues this isn’t the case.
“I work in a millennial business so I think those characterisations are pretty obtuse. I work on the belief that millennials govern the principles of what I call ‘social acceleration’. The principles of convenience, progress, improvement, betterment and identity.
“Because ultimately millennials want to gain something from their relationships with brands, not just to have a conversation.”
It’s about creating experiences, Lee continued, and making them feel good about themselves. Which is an age-old technique that heritage brands should have down pat.
The closest brand to be a purely millennial brand, in Lee’s opinion, is technology giant Apple.
The many brands that will struggle to achieve the purely millennial status where the loyalty of the demographic is through the roof will go through cycles of popularity and unpopularity, said Lee.
“I think there will always be a place for brands for brands like Vegemite, I don’t think we can shake that from our Australian psyche.”