We’ve all heard the titles ‘Millennial’ and ‘Generation Z’, along with all the alleged stigmas attached to them. There is an apparent urgency around understanding them and the confusion over the specificities of these demographics. That being said, the combined force of these generations make up 48% of the overall generational composition. Clearly this cohort is a force to be reckoned with.
Studies predict that Millennials and Generation Z will make up 35% and 24% of the global workforce respectively, with Generation Z accounting for 40% of consumers by 2020. In a few years over half of the global workforce will be who we refer to as the youth movement and nearly half of all consumers will be Generation Z.
It is important to realise that young people represent the longest lifetime value of any consumer presently. The good news is that we can get to know our consumers behaviour presently, knowing they will inevitably inherit the future market.
Changing Attitudes and Building Relationships
The bad news for alcoholic drinks brands is that those born after 1995, otherwise known as Generation Z, seem to be indigenously adopting a disdain for the ‘binge-drinking’ reputation their predecessors created for them.
Chloe Combi, a secondary school teacher turned writer, interviewed a sample size of 2000 teenagers for her 2015 book ‘Generation Z’. She spoke to them about many aspects of their lifestyle to gain a unique insight into what drives them. "It was something that came up time and time again. From north to south, hundreds of the kids said they were worried about their parents drinking habits," she says. "Loads of them said their parents drank far too much, from problem drinking through to being full-on alcoholics."
Perhaps once Millennials ascertained their drink of choice by its percentage proof. However, as they’ve grown older and gained more wisdom and responsibility, they see moderate alcohol consumption as the ‘new cool’. After the rise of the ‘craft-craze’, 75% of them are limiting their alcohol intake on a night out. Now taste and quality is the point of focus for 41% and 32% of Millennials respectively.
In a world of Facebook and Instagram it’s no longer ‘cool’ to be at risk of drinking too much and having photographic proof of your actions immortalised online. It’s now more socially rewarding to post the route of your 10km run on Facebook or a photo of your Latte art or colourful Whole Foods salad on Instagram.
However, while volume of alcohol consumption is at its lowest since 1979, there are still opportunities to create a relationship with young consumers.
To really stick with them and to earn their business, we must understand what drives them. We are in the presence of probably the most diverse and socially responsible generations of all time. 60% of them want their jobs to impact the world somehow, and 76% are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet.
Earlier this year Heineken launched their ‘Worlds Apart’ advert touching on social and political disagreements among the experiment’s participants. At the end of the team-building story their controversial viewpoints were revealed and they were given the option to leave or discuss their differences over a beer.
This is a perfect example of how to make marketing relevant, allowing the consumer to become emotionally invested in issues surrounding the product. It almost makes having a drink a positive process and opportunity for social or political discussion. Like a viral social experiment video on YouTube, the younger generation invests their time and attention in a brand that puts the story first.
A story has even more of an impressive impact, the more effort that is put into it, similar to the ‘Gentlemen's Agreement II’ by Johnnie Walker Blue. More inclined to the luxury market, they go all-out casting BAFTA winning actor Jude Law and Cannes Film Festival best actor Giancarlo Giannini as they create a featurette around two gentlemen and a wager to buy a beautiful classic blue car - but not with money.
The duo share in the beauty and comforts around them until the wager to win the car in a race to Monaco is made. Law affirms he is a socially responsible gentleman to us, going as far as to refuse a glass of whisky in a ‘cheers’ to the agreement as he shakes his head and remarks “I’m driving”. Further virtuous activities include giving a distressed farmer his sunglasses, providing roadside assistance to a stranded young lady - who puts a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue in the car as thanks - and finally giving the aforementioned bottle to the man at the finish line for good measure.
Everything about this short film is visually stunning thanks to director Jake Scott, capturing fantastic shots and charming morals. It’s something worth sharing, even if whisky isn’t your thing. Putting the story first, allowing the product to hover slightly in the ensemble, still painting its colourful mark across the performance whilst highlighting the joy in helping and giving to others is subtle marketing at it’s best.
Uniday’s CEO Josh Rathour’s key advice for brands looking to engage with younger generations is to “assume nothing”. New brands are emerging all the time to no discrimination from their younger audience. This is because the key to engage with these generations is to make sure you’re relevant. Your strategy has to continuously adapt to the generations. As they grow and learn, the strategy will grow and learn.
To form an affinity it’s important to appreciate every aspect of the generations in the broadest and biggest picture. Only then can you target their specific values through niche modes of marketing and make a lasting impact that will deliver time after time.