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Some Serious Advice: Carol Phillips Speaks Out About Millennial Marketing

A couple weeks ago, Pete Krainek of The CMO Club posed questions to Millennial Marketing guru Carol Phillips about how companies and CMOs can more effectively reach out to the Millennial consumer group through marketing.  On May 29th, Ms. Phillips posted the conversation on her fabulous blog, Millennial Marketing, and the results are short, sweet and worth their binary 1′s and 0′s in gold.

Below are some excerpts of the interview (many of these topics have been discussed recently here on The Millennier).  If reaching out to Millennials is something that you – or your company – is trying to do (and you’re reading this, so it IS), this is some important information that will be crucial in building your successful approach.

“Millennials are literally begging wine makers to market to them.”

- Carol Phillips

For the full posting of the interview, go here. (For those of you who have not taken a look at Ms. Phillips blog, I highly recommend. Like, HIGHLY.)

Carop Phillips & Emily Fleming

Photo: Carol Phillips and friend, Emily Fleming. Carol is President of research and consulting firm, Brand Amplitude, and teaches marketing at University of Notre Dame.

Carol Phillips answers  questions about marketing to Millennials.

More and more companies are looking to engage, market and sell more effectively to Millennials. What are the most important things CMO’s should consider as they develop their marketing plans?

The most important thing is to take time to truly understand their core values. It’s easy to get caught up in studying their buying behavior, media use and latest-must-have technology. But if you study their values, you will have a better idea of how to connect with them. Obama and Apple won their hearts because they ‘think’ like Milllennials.

In study after study — on beer, education, social media, philanthropy, workplace needs and news media — we find that understanding Millennial values helps shed light on behavior. Taking the time to really ‘get’ the way they think is well worth the effort and pays dividends in how you manage, communicate and ultimately market to them. Without those insights, the paradoxes can be baffling.

Who does a good job in engaging millennials and why?

Millennials love brands, but are cynical about marketing. They distrust commercial messages, so any effort must be authentic and come from a trusted source. The absolute best way to engage them is through each other. Our advice to clients is to engage them by giving them ‘social currency’, in the form of experiences and information, and then make it easy to share. Starbuck’s Red promotion at the holidays, Taco Bell’s long running late night promotion, and the Ford Fiesta car giveaway contest all have great Millennial appeal because they are about sharing. In the entertainment area, ABC Family did a great job of repositioning ‘family entertainment’ to be more Millennial-friendly.

What are some examples of approaches that didn’t work or miss the boat?

An iconic brand currently popular with Millennials, but is due for a makeover, is Corona. Millennials love sophisticated tastes in beer, wine and spirits, and they prefer imported beer. But their idea of relaxation is not going on vacation or sitting on a beach. Relaxation is something that needs to happen every day, like watching Family Guy, throwing a frisbee to a dog or making a great meal.

Beyond specific brands, there are whole categories that are missing the boat. Millennials are literally begging wine makers to market to them. Casual restaurants also are missing an opportunity to build community around their brands. Realtors, travel and financial services need to start clueing into their future target.

Any myths you think out there on Millennials that CMOs should not believe as fact?

Yes, there a lot of myths. Unfortunately some of them have a grain of truth to them so it can be hard to sort out what is real and what is not. The main caution is not to make the mistake of thinking Millennials are simply younger, more techo-savvy versions of Boomers and X’ers. If you have teenagers or young adult children, you know this is true. They simply ‘think different’. Their sheer numbers make it inevitable that they will shape us – marketers and managers – more than we will shape them.

What final words of advice do you have for CMOs looking to improve engagement and sales results with Millennials?

Listen to your own Millennials, at home and in the office. They will give you the best advice about how to reach others like them. We learn from our younger colleagues, our own kids and my students every day. There are also a lot of great blogs written about marketing by Millennials. Finally, its not a challenge to talk to them online – they love to talk and they literally ‘live’ online.

AMEN CP!

How Millennials View YOU, Wine Industry

Everybody’s attempting to do the brand new dance now – it’s called TRY AND REACH OUT TO MILLENNIAL CONSUMERS.  Well, what do Millennials think of all this?  Granted, there aren’t nearly enough people attempting, but let’s look at the landscape.

dancefloor

It looks a lot like the dancefloor at the last wedding you went to.  Now, not everyone is out on the floor – it takes a certain amount of courage to get out there.  Of the people out on the floor, you observe a few different types.  First off, there’s the “kids.”  They’re looking pretty good – they know the music, know the moves, and they’re having fun.  Then there’s the “grandparents” – we love them just for getting out there and trying.  Then there’s the “parents” – they’re a bit older than the kids, but they’re out there.  They’re trying.  Some of them are attempting to bring back their own famous dance moves from back in the day – with little success.  Some are trying to copy the “kids” since they must know best, right?  This can be pretty embarassing to watch.  Some of them, however, know the music and know the scene and can get right down to business.

Welcome to the party that is the wine industry right now.  Good for everyone on that dance floor for just getting up and trying.  As an observer, though, you can see that not everyone is… let’s say effective.  Most of the “kids” look great.  You want to go up and hug the “grandparents” just for being awesome enough to try.  But it’s the main population of the dance floor, the “parents,” that are tough to watch.  The best people on the floor know the music and the scene – regardless of whether they are 14 or 62 – the rest are trying, bless their hearts, but they’re not really getting anywhere.

officedance

Let this be a warning…

So if the dance floor is made up of companies vying for the Millennial consumer, that would make the Millennial consumer… YOU. THE OBSERVER.

Millennials have had advertising campaigns shoved in our faces since we were propped up in front of our parents tvs.  It’s safe to say that we’re a pretty savvy group.  It’s not like we don’t KNOW that we’re being marketed to. We fully realize this – we’re used to it.  In fact, we get perturbed if we are NOT marketed to, and yet a company telling us that they are hip will not make us consumers.  We are innate experts at taking in and analyzing information in order to form opinions.  And we are REALLY good at forming opinions, as any Millennial parent will tell you.  And just as it’s crystal clear to anyone looking at that dancefloor that Uncle Billy is making an ass of himself, it’s just that easy for us to see which companies are wasting their time.

Possibly the most simple and powerful example of this comes from a recent post on FineArtsLA.com.  The post is a piece on a new wine tasting group in Los Angeles (WTF LA – yes, this is my group and apologies for the plug, but there is a reason for it…).  The freelance writer, Jenia Gorton, is a Millennial and has some VERY interesting things to say about how young people are treated as consumers in the wine industry.  I think the most interesting is this quote:

It seems like there is “good” wine, which young people are expected to know nothing about, and “cheap” wine, for us ignorant 20 and 30-somethings, bums, and broke alcoholics.

It speaks directly to what many companies and marketers think of young people consuming wine today: we aren’t educated and we won’t spend the money.  Yep, we hear you loud and clear, but maybe we don’t want some company’s version of 2 Buck Chuck.  Or the new Yellowtail.  It’s possible that we want to be respected as consumers and have a company or two reach out to us based on qualities other than our wallets.  Like our tastes, our sense of humor, our lifestyles, our shared experiences – but if a company is not connected to any of these things… that effort will still be a FAIL.

So what can marketers learn from Millennials like Ms. Gorton? If you’re going out on the floor, you better know how to DANCE.

Meet a Millennial

I’m a millennial and I love wine – and I’m not the only one by a long shot.  In the inaugural post of this blog, I want to take a minute and point out (in case anyone has been living in a cave lately) just WHY Millennials are such a big deal to the wine industry right now, and why an industry blog written by one of us can be so valuable to individuals working in the business.

There are so many different parameters and definitions for The Millennial Generation – let’s clarify.  For the use of this blog, we’ll use the definition that Millennials are people born between the years 1977 and 2000.  There are between 70 and 76 million of us out there, and not even half of us are drinking age.

2008 Wine Market Council New Growth Chart

According to several studies and industry observations this is the generation that is generating the biggest growth in the core wine-drinking population.  Because of this trend and today’s market, this age group will be crucial in supporting the U.S. wine industry through the current recession.  John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council, suggests that Millennials are the future of the wine industry.  “What’s unique about Millennials is how quickly they are discovering and embracing wine as core consumers, rather than slowly incorporating wine into their lives as we’ve seen previous generations do,” says Gillespie.

There are between 70 and 76 million of us out there, and not even half of us are drinking age.

After switching careers from a big deal Hollywood talent agency into the world of wine, I wanted to get my hands on some research – and lots of it. Specifically the effects and prognosis of my generation on the industry. After searching, reviewing, subscribing, reading, listening and watching just about ANYTHING available, I’ve found some incredibly valuable information, interesting POVs, and some egregious fallacies.

The Millennier Blog seeks to share important information as it pertains to Millennials and wine, to bring in valuable feedback and opinions from millennials, and, when necessary, to call out the bull.*

This blog was built to help teach individuals in the wine industry how to reach out and tap into this next generation of wine consumers.

*First thing to learn about Millennials, if you don’t already know: We tend to speak our mind pretty freely.