Knowing When “Millennials” Are Wrong For Your Brand

Brands continue to spend millions trying to make inroads into the “millennial” market, but is it the right strategy? For every success, there is a misguided failure, which likely occurs due to a lack of genuine human insight, leading to audiences being crudely grouped by age, not by attitude and motivation (something I also wrote about here – The One Where Attitudes Have Changed).

If brands don’t take the time to use and compare both human and brand insights when speaking to younger audiences, they will come across as inauthentic, waste their money and potentially harm their brand equity in the process.

This issue has become particularly prevalent in skincare, partly due to the abundance of influencers, who brands see as an easy route into the so-called millennial audience. This is a perfectly successful strategy for some brands, but for others, it’s flushing budget down the toilet. Budget that could easily be saved by comparing the motivations of different audiences in the sector, and the motivations that bring your current customers to you. All of which are quick and simple using our techniques.

We looked at a specific brand, whose influencer marketing was failing, and they wanted to know why. We delved into the human insight by identifying and scraping data from across a variety of sources, including message boards, comments on YouTube and mainstream media articles, and social media, before categorising audience groups by motivation. We then analysed conversations people were having around the brand’s products, to understand the most common motivations customers had for using them. This gave us an audience-led understanding of where the most appropriate growth audiences were, and where the brand’s products could authentically play, with confidence.

We found that the brand was serving two distinct motivations. The first were those interested in anti-ageing, who had a very specific language-set and way of speaking about the products, which tended to be much more scientific and focused on specific ingredients. The second group were more interested in the sensory pleasure that the products gave them, and used more evocative language around the smells and sensations of the products. The brand’s products could play authentically to both of these audiences, and with a little tweaking in terms of creative and messaging, would be able to broaden it’s potential customers dramatically.

Younger age groups, however, tend to be motivated mostly by repair when it comes to their skincare. They know they are doing damage to their skin with their lifestyles, but are not willing to change, and expect the products they use to do as much as possible to alleviate that damage. This simply doesn’t resonate with the brand’s personality, nor it’s products, and trying to push it’s products to this audience via influencers was inauthentic, and potentially damaging to the brand’s equity.

In the constant battle for market share, it’s attitudes, not age, that will help you resonate authentically, with the right customers, and ensure you are using your budgets to grow new audiences, not alienate your customer base.

If you’d like to speak to us about using strategic human insight in your thinking, get in touch with me on

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