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Marketing to Millennials:  Are you sure you want to?

Is this push short-sighted?  There's not a doubt in my mind that what is perceived as trendy, fashionable, or “in” is influenced largely upon the opinions of the younger generation.  That being said, Millennials are one of the smaller demo. groups.  Not only that, but they also have much less buying power than young professionals and established businessmen and women.  Jean Twenge, author of the book Generation Me, credits Millennials with possessing the traits of confidence and tolerance, however, they also exude a certain narcissism and self-entitlement.

 

Should you market to Millennials?  Yes…but as a part of a broader, more holistic approach…perhaps to paint a picture of a product as being trendy that will ultimately have a trickle-down effect on older, more affluent demos.

Marketing Evolved

Consumers are continually becoming more and more sophisticated, especially in an age where we now quantify and track everything.  This allows marketers and advertisers to embrace that kind of transparency, put together their own research, and disseminate that information to a more targeted audience, which makes your advertising far more efficient with fewer wasted dollars.  The role marketing plays has become more comprehensive, including processes such as planning, implementation, and monitoring & analytics (Manning and Reece, 2008).  Analytics have become increasingly important because consumers want to measure success and revise the plan of attack if there are any shortcomings.  Instead of putting together a plan and putting the product out there for eyes to see, the marketer now needs to make sure the right eyes see it and with a certain amount of frequency.  

 

At the end of the day, the name of the game is value, and what you can bring to the table will ultimately determine your level of success.  Offering a superior value guarantees satisfaction which earns loyalty (Day, 1994).  Marketing in contemporary America now favors the cultivation of relationships, proving once and for all that it is, and always has been, all about the people.

Super Bowl vs Olympics vs World Cup

This is the epitome of comparing apples to oranges.  The Super Bowl is a single-day television event, largely isolated to just the United States.  The Winter Olympics, while international, doesn't have the same kind of viewership that the Summer Olympics has, possibly because it largely excludes countries that don't participate in winter sports.  The Winter Olympics also has the advantage of putting up large numbers because it is televised on multiple stations that showcase multiple events over the course of a couple weeks.

 

The World Cup trumps even the Olympics.  It is a month-long event that takes place in the summer and televises the world's most popular game to an international audience.  Corporate sponsorships are priced ~$75 million per sponsorship.  That's nearly 20 times the cost of a Super Bowl ad, BUT this includes a lot of bonus spots and a confirmed number of spots that eclipses 400.  This puts increased pressure on agencies and corporations to keep their message fresh because no one wants to be diluted with the same commercial over 400 times for a month.  

 

The Olympics offers more competitive rates over a sustained period, but ratings will likely diminish based on time of day, event, and so forth…Figure skating may not appeal to a younger audience, whereas snowboard superpipe may not appeal to an old crowd.  

 

The trick to determining whether or not to advertise during one of these highly visible sporting events is to do some thorough cost analysis and opportunity cost analysis and decide which suits your target demographic best.  Will the impression you get with a Super Bowl ad give you the frequency you want?  Will the frequency you get with a World Cup or Olympics ad reach the number of people you want it to reach (think Croatia vs Cameroon in the WC or Curling for the Olympics)?  

 

Regardless of what happens, the CPM will continue to rise and so will the price for a single spot (as high as $10 million/ 30 seconds for the Super Bowl by 2040).  Why does this happen?  It's not just because of the VOLUME of people reached, but the quality of ads increases on the world's biggest stages.  During the Super Bowl, people don't turn the channel, the viewership of advertisements actually EXCEEDS that of the game itself!  Exciting times indeed….

Reconciling Jingoistic Tendencies

Globally, many other countries work faster, longer, more cheaply, and take greater pride in their work than we do.  If we can look beyond our own self-entitled way of thinking, perhaps we can improve our metrics concerning GDP per capita, quality of life, income disparity, and many others.  People used to take so much pride in the goods that were manufactured in the USA, but it seems very short-sighted to still live by that model.  If you are a manufacturer, you need people that can meet deadlines cheaply and reliably.  Toyota is successful here, in part, due to our extraordinarily high labor costs in automotive manufacturing (due in part to unions).  The textile industry invariably favors Southeast Asia because they can manufacture quality goods and ship them overseas more cheaply than we can even produce them.  

These cost-cutting measures and outsourcing are GOOD.  It allows American entrepreneurs to thrive where they would otherwise flounder by keeping production costs low.  It also allows small businesses and corporations to build international relationships and share their product on a global scale simply by exposing the people who create your product to something that isn't often seen abroad.  If all labor was granted to American employees, we would be hindering market equilibrium and trying to control something that's beyond our means.

 We have become a service industry and a country of innovators.  We're the idea people.  We have reached for the next rung of the ladder of the economic hierarchy, and it's strange to hear people crave regression.  We must not get complacent, and we mustn't falsely assert that protectionist measures will liberate us from the shackles of the free market.  

ME-Commerce

Any retail item can be purchased online, often with free shipping or some other incentive that actually makes it the pereferential method of shopping.  Gone are the days of waiting in endless lines behind the person that has to write a check as slowly as he or she possibly can.  Mobile e-commerce has replaced traditional e-commerce…or rather, improved upon it.  

 

You could be strolling down the beach, basking in sunshine while ordering a new grill for Labor Day.  Even GM is rolling out a new application that would allow savvy consumers to trade-in their car, and take delivery or test drive a new car, all without bothering to get dressed in the morning.

 

 I already order all of my take-out online when I used to phone it in.  Further innovation will herald the dawning of a new Kondratiev Cycle that could yield innovations in every single industry on a global scale, and this would represent a huge boom for the logistics industry, with higher levels of import/export and international shipping business.  It would also mean smaller businesses could level the playing field a bit.  For instance, I love the asadero cheese from the Licon Dairy in San Elizario, Texas.  I encourage everyone to find a niche product that you absolutely love, and see if it's available for international shipping.  What an industrious age in which we live!!!