Millennials have been breaking the mold on typical 18–25 behaviors, making them difficult to market to. They stay at home longer, are getting married later, and are not buying cars and houses like their parents did. These different tendencies have thrown brands a curveball when attempting to market to these individuals. What has worked in the past is no longer effective, until now. It seems that a few brands are slowly starting to figure out a way to reach Millennials in an effective way.
These brands are using various campaigns that encourage kind words and happiness to reach consumers. According to a study by ZenithOptimedia, brands that help Millennials achieve happiness stand the best chance of securing long-lasting and profitable relationships with that specific consumer group. “By understanding how Millennials find fulfillment in their lives, brands can play a meaningful role to support and enhance their pursuit of happiness,” stated Linda Tan, Strategic Insights Director for ZenithOptimedia Worldwide.
McDonald’s, Dove and Coca-Cola have started their 2015 campaigns off with a bang—and a smile—proving that gladvertising is working. McDonald’s kicked-off their happiness campaign with their “Pay With Lovin’” Super Bowl ad where select patrons were chosen to use an emotional connection as currency. The campaign was part of the brand’s new push to lean into the love aspect of their “I’m Lovin’ It” slogan. The in-store campaign lasted two weeks and managed to boost the brand’s perception online from roughly 30 percent positive or neutral to 85 percent positive or neutral. That’s huge! “When you focus on the idea [of happiness], you’re a better brand,” said McDonald’s CMO Deborah Wahl. “It can completely change the way that brand engages with its customers, and that’s why we feel so strongly about [this trend]… it can help drive the right sort of purpose-driven behavior.”
Meanwhile, Dove and Coke took to Twitter with branded hashtags for their happiness-driven campaigns. Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign will last through the year with the goal of fostering positive self-esteem in women and girls. “Twitter allows us to send one-on-one responses to women and girls to inspire them to help change the way we talk about beauty on social media,” said Jennifer Bremner, Director of Marketing for Dove. Coke’s #MakeItHappy campaign, in addition to a series of commercials, used ASCII art—which is an image generated out of lines of text—to target hateful tweets and turn the words into cheery imagery. According to Coke, its campaign received 95 percent positive and neutral social responses.
Brands using this new strategy are overall receiving increased positive feedback and engagement from consumers. Millennials may be on the pursuit of happiness, but they also have the innate ability to see through transparent attempts that suggest using a certain product will lead to contentment and fulfillment. Marketers that give consumers a clear understanding of what the brand stands for, and can manage to tap into the demographic’s infatuation with a good experience by making their consumer journey enjoyable, are on the right track to success with this once-thought unreachable target market.