In this guest post, B&T 30 Under 30 winner and founder and director of Collabosaurus, Jess Ruhfus (main photo), takes a look at what Millennials want from brands, plus the companies that are ticking all the boxes…
Generally speaking, Millennials are bigger spenders than the generations before. A survey of millennial spending habits found that 76 per cent would spend money on a new gadget, and 69 per cent would spend money on clothes they didn’t need. But just because millennial consumers are ready to whip out our wallets at the drop of a proverbial hat doesn’t mean brands can put their marketing on autopilot. Because while we might be statistically more open to parting with our cash, we also have high expectations of the businesses we choose to buy from. Millennials are agitating for brands to be better—in every sense of the word—to capture our attention and our dollars.
As a collaborator at heart, I knocked heads with my fellow B&T 30 under 30 crew to explore some of the creative marketing campaigns that have cut through the noise of a crammed marketplace to connect with the Millennial cohort.
Ingrid Kesa, director of branded content at Broadsheet and winner of the B&T 30 under 30 award for marketing commented on the heightened cognisance among Millennials of the power of consumer choice. “Young people, more than ever, understand that each time they’re spending money, they’re actually making a vote on how they want the world around them to be,” she argued.
For many brands, collaboration marketing has offered up an opportunity to capture that vote. From the online furore after Childish Gambino released his Adidas collaboration at Coachella this year via AirDrop, to the hype enjoyed by Benefit and Quay Sunglasses after the two brands dropped a capsule sunglasses collection, there’s no doubt that, when done right, collaboration marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies around.
A collaborative campaign can not only capture those all important millennial eyeballs, but it can act as the connective tissue between a brand and its audience. When two loved brands team up for a creative campaign, it’s a way for them to double their organic reach, spark conversation, attract media attention and add value to their communities.
Take the WeWork x Rent the Runway partnership, which saw clothing subscription company Rent the Runway set up drop boxes at 15 WeWork locations across the US in an attempt to bring high-end fashion to the office and make it easier for thousands of Millennials to rent clothing from their place of work. Collaborations like this are successful because both brands truly understand their ideal customer and tap into the millennial consumers’ expectation of convenience and frictionless access to goods and services.
Millennials are also a cohort that value experiences over possessions, so collaborations that increase engagement through creatively executed, one-of-a-kind experiences are another way for brands to cut through. Ingrid predicts that off-platform experiences are how brands will be able to connect with audiences moving forward, by “building relationships with their audiences in tangible ways that transcend the screen.”
One fitting example is the three-way collaboration between iconic surf label Bob McTavish, the Byron Bay Surf Festival, and boutique Byron Bay hotel The Atlantic. Labelled ‘The Ultimate Surf Pilgrammage’, the collaboration included a hand-shaped McTavish Board, flights and VIP tickets to the Byron Bay Surf Festival, plus three nights accommodation at The Atlantic.
Not only were all three brands’ ideal customers aligned, the collaboration provided an epic, memorable experience that got people talking and converted into valuable social content for each brand. As B&T 30 under 30 (marketing) Rachel Barry of Red Agency said, “the best measure of success for a campaign is, ‘would your target audience proactively tell their mates about it at the pub or over coffee?’ If the idea doesn’t meet that bench mark, it should stay on the cutting room floor.”
Rather than just a means to extend their reach into new markets, collaboration also presents a meaningful way for brands to have a positive impact on social, health or environmental outcomes. Rachel cites a great example that saw marketing and PR agency Havas, advertising agency BETC São Paulo and non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity Brazil collaborate on a campaign that aimed to combat deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.
Brazil’s favelas (slums) — some of the largest in Latin America — are the most affected by these fatal diseases, and the trio worked together to develop “The Dissolving Poster”, an educational poster that dissolves into larvicide when wet. Each poster transforms 200 mL of standing water into a mosquito death trap for 60 days.
“The posters are safe for the environment, animals and people, and if there’s no rain — a rarity in the country—each poster remains active for a maximum of two years. You know a campaign is brilliant when it makes what would have been a devilishly difficult idea to pull off look seamless and easy—when the reaction is “oh yeah, of course that’s a great idea!’” says Rachel.
Collaborations can also take a turn for the bizarre. Case in point: Tinder teaming up with candle company Homesick to release a candle for singles around Valentines Day, and Gelato Messina setting up an unlikely collaboration with home fragrances company, Airwick. Typically, collaboration for collaborations’ sake seldom works; however, in the case of the above examples, it was their peculiarity factor that scored them PR opportunities and got people talking across their social channels.
So, as brands push their creative limits, running the full gamut from thoughtful, strategic collaborations to the downright weird and wacky in an attempt to connect with millennials, how is this impacting our expectations of marketing campaigns? Are we becoming numb to the power of simplicity, or just embracing a new era where we want to know that a brand truly gets us—and what we care about—before we part with our cash? An era where clever, meaningful collaboration reigns supreme.