Why PonoMusic is Winning with Millennials

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

PonoMusic is a brand with a simple purpose: Create the highest quality music in the world. In fact, that is their promise. Founded by the famous musician Neil Young, PonoMusic is based on the idea that people need to start caring more about the quality of music they listen to. Young believes it’s wrong to settle for subpar music quality, which is how he came up with the name. “Pono” is Hawaiian for righteous. This mission for “righteous” music has already started to convince people, especially Millennials, that PonoMusic’s high quality sound is worth it. Young is determined to bring back quality music and Millennials are right there with him.

Millennials’ love for the PonoMusic brand is not strictly due to the fact that they are music fans. It is about the brand’s identity, how they raised their capital and the brand’s marketing strategy.


PonoMusic set out to raise capital for their MP3 player through KickStarter, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. There are many times that ideas on KickStarter don’t get enough funding for creation. The PonoPlayer was not one of those ideas. PonoMusic not only met its funding request; it soared past it. The PonoPlayer needed $800,000 of pledges to be created, and it received over $6 million making it the 3rd most successful KickStarter campaign in the history of KickStarter.

Young has embraced Millennials as loyal fans. He even spoke at the Austin Convention Center as part of a music convention in front of a largely Millennial crowd, demonstrating the connection Millennials have with this brand. From its origin on a Millennial-friendly entrepreneurship site to its marketing strategy focused on peer testimonials, the PonoMusic brand has been a hit with Millennials.Their success in crowdfunding is not the only success accomplished so far. The advertising is another boon for the brand. PonoMusic’s advertising strategy is based mainly on testimonials, which really hits home with Millennials. We know that Millennials have an overwhelming amount of trust for peer reviews, even from people they don’t know. On PonoMusic’s website visitors can find countless videos available of people raving about the music quality and sound. This customer feedback is a great way to convince Millennials of a valuable product.

While the exact PonoMusic demographics are not available because the PonoPlayer is not open to the public until fall, it can be safely assumed that Millennials are a large part of the PonoMusic market considering the PonoPlayer got its $6 million in funding from Kickstarter, and a CNBC report explains that Millennials provide an average of 54% of the funds for Kickstarter projects. Additionally, much of the online hype is coming straight from Millennials.


PonoMusic has over 10,000 twitter followers (@pono) and over 35,000 Facebook likes.

One comparison to the PonoPlayer is Beats by Dre. Both are backed by famous musicians and focus on providing high-quality music. The difference, though, is that Beats by Dre. produces the listening device (headphones and earbuds) while PonoMusic focuses on the actual listening device. Thus, people can use both at the same time for superior sound quality.

For continued success, PonoMusic will need to target consumers that are so devoted to high-quality music that they are willing to have a listening device separate from their phone, not to mention willing to buy music from the PonoMusic store.

Scott Fromm contributed to this post. 

Photo Credit: Flickr via Aslan Media and @Pono.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.