Who’s Next for a Millennial Brand Makeover?


Gen Y is different, and not just because they are young. A Christian Science Monitor article (“Do You Get The Millennial Generation?”) drives this point home home: Don’t “assume that the members of particular demographic groups, in this instance young people in their mid-teens through their mid-20s, behave the same and hold the same attitudes at all times.” The authors of the article, Winograd and Hais, have extra credibility on this point: they were also co-authors of the prescient book, Millennial Makeover, that predicted the political shift that carried Obama and the Democrats into power last year. Their forecast was based on careful attention to changes in generational values.

Now marketers are finally catching on.

ABC Family understood the latest transformation as an opportunity, and re-directed its programming ago to better align with Millennial values. As a result, ABC Family is now attracting some of the largest Gen Y audiences on TV (see earlier post, “ABC Family, A Deft Millennial Makeover“.

In contrast, MTV, the channel that literally invented youth programming 25 years ago, recognized the latest generational shift too late and now is playing catch up. According to CST, “MTV has acknowledged that its programming had become out of step with the progressive, service-oriented values of today’s youth, the Millennial Generation. It was very clear we were at one of those transformational moments, when this new generation of Millennials [born between 1982 and 2003] were demanding a new MTV,” a channel executive explained.”

I expect this trend to accelerate, and restaurants, wine and food brands are the latest to catch on. Last week, even Kraft Foods is moving to reposition Miracle Whip to the Foodie Generation

Who’s next for a Millennial Brand Makeover? Here are some suggestions:

1. Hardware and Home Centers: As the earliest Millennials reach their thirties, home care can expected to become more of a focus for Gen Y. Hardware and home centers need to start capitalizing on Millennials’ interest in eco-friendly products, green living, repair/reuse/recycle, organic gardening and more.

Financial Services: Charles Schwab is talking to Gen X, but we have seen few efforts to engage Gen Y. Gen Y will be looking for investments that align with their values of social entrepreneurism, environmental and political activism.

Travel Services: Millennials have a passion for seeing the world. As their spending power increases, they will be looking for unique travel experiences that align with their values, of ‘giving back’, mixing their desire to see the world with opportunities to contribute to the places they visit.

Post-Graduate Training & Education: Millennials will take lifelong learning seriously. Many Millennials see advanced degrees and training as an alternative to ‘paying their dues’ at work. Educational institutions would be wise to maintain relationships with alumni and stay tuned to their ambitions and desire for self-improvement even beyond college.