Pepsi: The Choice of the Millennial Generation?

Okay, I’m not so old that I actually remember Joanie Sommers singing “Come Alive! Your (sic) In the Pepsi Gen-er-ation!” (See video if you were born after 1950). But I do remember some of the great generational Pepsi campaigns that followed. Seriously, is there any brand more closely tied to generational marketing than Pepsi? So it is not a surprise that Pepsi would make a run at being the choice of this new generation.

It’s starting with the release of research dubbed the “Pepsi Optimism Project” or POP. The research made a big splash by announcing the self-fulfilling finding that Gen Y is more optimistic than other generations.

When asked to select words to describe how they feel, eight in 10 (81%) selected “hopeful” and two-thirds (65%) chose “optimistic.”But Millennials (57%) are also much more likely than Gen Xers (49%), Baby Boomers (38%), and Post-War Americans (27%) to report feeling “excited” about the future.

Astonishing. Who knew?! Roll out the PR machine.

But wait there’s more insight ahead:

When Millennials are asked how to describe their views of the word “change,” nearly all of them (95%) make positive associations. They most often associate “change” with the concepts of “new” (79%), “progress” (78%), “hope” (77%) and “excitement” (72%). They are less apt to make negative associations with the word change. “Uncertainty” (59%), “concern” (52%), “stress” (40%) and “loss” (26%) ranked at the bottom of the list of words that come to mind. Two-thirds of Millennials (67%) say that the election of Barack Obama as president is making them feel optimistic about the future of the country.

Someone better tell the Obama folks. Be sure to tell them that Millennials are also optimistic about their health, their career, their finances, even their romantic prospects.

With these kind of insights, I can’t wait to see the ads. According to Pepsi, we can expect a “significant, multiyear reinvestment in carbonated soft drinks” and the debut of a new advertising campaign “featuring a consistent theme of optimism that mirrors the current social climate”. Let’s hope that their research leads them someplace more exciting than a Pepsi and a smile (oops, that was the other brand). As I have written before, this generation has yet to embrace an ‘iconic’ brand, and no doubt Pepsi wants to be it. But it will take a special effort to break through to this generation, and I am betting that a retread of Obama’s campaign is not going to do it.