It’s not all about social media

MMR Research Worldwide will be running an exciting masterclass at YMS on 21st March on ‘How do we engage Millennials in food and drink?’ Andrew Wardlaw, Director of Insight at MMR Research Worldwide highlights an important opportunity for brands to connect with the young at a deeper, more meaningful level.  

The untapped opportunity

Too many brands think that if they’ve got a Facebook page, a Twitter account and maybe Instagram or Pinterest, that they’re doing all that they can to reach out to an apparently distracted generation.

To win the hearts and minds of Millennials, brands need to go beyond social media and content marketing. There’s a lot more that can be done across product and pack to reach a much less engaged generation.

This is a mighty claim to make, and it isn’t suggesting that Millennials are less interested in food and drink. Rather, it is acknowledging that Millennials have become masters of fast, intuitive, emotion based decision making - where it's not what you say that counts. Rather, it’s how you feel at a more subliminal level.

In the Masterclass, we will prove that Millennial levels of engagement across 20 food and drink categories is dramatically lower versus their Baby Boomer parents. 

More than this, we don’t believe that brand owners will ever be able to replicate the levels of consumer understanding of categories and brands that they have enjoyed in the past. Millennials just don’t consciously register overt brand communications like their parents did (witness the endemic skipping of ads, for example.)  However, we do believe that brands that understand how they can strengthen their sensory signal across product and pack will gain advantage.

It’s about engagement

As we plan to share as part of the YMS conference, Millennials broadly understand food and drink (FMCG) categories in the same way as their Baby Boomer parents, but the level of conviction behind this understanding is markedly weaker.  

Through the eyes of Millennials, your category definition may be led by the same associations – ‘Comforting’, ‘Traditional’, ‘Trustworthy’ etc., but strength of such associations are in some cases nearly half as strong as their parents.  Beer, bread and breakfast cereals are particularly weak.

What is causing such a decline in the category signal?  Whilst some of the gap could be attributed to less life experience, we would argue that category equities are largely formed earlier in life – so the weaker signal is likely to remain in later life.

It is our assertion Millennials are less engaged in your category (and brand?) because they have had to adapt to survive the information (overload) age.  They have developed coping mechanisms that rely more on sensory cues to make fast but informed decisions (think ‘Masters of System 1’.)

To connect with a Millennial is to adapt your brand, pack & product’s sensory profile to amplify your message at a non-conscious level.   We make sense of the world through our senses – which are being stimulated almost all of the time.  Do you know what you brand is signalling at a sensory level? Now is the time to know exactly that, and to engineer it in a way that works with System 1 decision making.

If you are interested in understanding more about MMR’s work on leveraging the subconscious, or simply want further information about this study – book your place on the Masterclass here.


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