It’s Time to See Millennials Differently

By Kyra Auffermann, Digital Content Manager, NCA

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They’re narcissistic, delusional, and entitled.

Yet Millennials are also “increasingly acting as the agents of change in society … providing the energy, creative ideas and determination to drive reform,” according to a 2012 report from the United Nations.

…Wait – what?

“We should all be a little more like Millennials,” said Todd Metrokin, Ogilvy’s vice president of creative strategy, during his presentation “The Millennial Mind: Insights for a Smarter Brand Strategy” at the National Coffee Association’s 2014 Coffee Summit in Boston on October 30.

And he may be on to something.

This coveted 18 to 32 demographic controls 21 percent of discretionary spending in the US, which could present an exciting opportunity for the coffee industry.

According the NCA’s report, “Coffee Across Generations,” 78 percent of millennials said that they have consumed coffee within the last year – a number likely to rise as the demographic matures. Specialty coffee drinks are especially popular with this demographic, a trend supported both through market research data and the overwhelming popularity of latte art on Instagram.

So how can your brand reach the Millennial market?

The first thing to do is get out of the way.

Traditionally, brands sought to retain control over their messages, but Metrokin says that Millennials want more opportunities to engage. This requires genuine conversations versus blasting out one-way marketing messages.

Remember that the group is driven by creative ideas and the opportunity to drive change. “Millennials believe that organizations do not listen to them [and] don’t provide an opportunity to make an impact,” Metrokin explains.

The key factor in overcoming this key cultural tension is authenticity, which Metrokin defines as “people talking to people.” You need to convey a consistent set of core values while responding in a way that is relevant and speaks directly to your audience.

That means that you have to communicate with Millennials as individuals, rather than one homogenous herd.

It may seem terrifying at first. But by meeting Millennials where they are and embracing their new culture of innovation, you can position your organization to lead change and transform the future of the coffee industry.

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