C-level: Embrace Pop Culture to Attract Millennials

By Tricia Liverpool

C-level: Embrace Pop Culture to Attract Millennials

Today’s Millennials form the largest population of brand consumers in the world, and this fact has changed the way brands market themselves. Touted as the first generation of digital natives, Millennials are quick to gather information online when something piques their interest. Compared to previous generations, millennials aren’t as skeptical when receiving information online and are more likely to care about the authenticity of the content.

Gone are the days of traditional advertising Mad Men-style. With the advent of social media platforms and influencer marketing via Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more, brands are forced to change the way they approach their consumers.

Move with the times, or face the real danger of becoming obsolete. Remember the businesses that folded due to technological transition from film cameras to DSLR? Kodak used to be the consumer powerhouse for film cameras. However, the brand met its demise almost as soon as the world embraced digital cameras. We can definitely learn from Kodak on how important it is that brands stay updated for top of mind recall. One of the easiest ways brands can stay relevant is by embracing pop culture and integrating it into their marketing strategies and content. When done correctly, it brings a lot of benefits to the brand.

Say it with ‘emojis’

Emojis or emoticons have been around since the advent of messenger applications. Recently, it has become a huge phenomenon that the word ‘emoji’ itself made its way into the Oxford Dictionary as the ‘Word of the year in 2015’. Domino Pizza jumped on the emoji bandwagon and created a fun way for customers to order pizza, just by including the pizza emoji in their text message. And let’s not forget the infamous emoji press release from Chevrolet.

Apart from brands, celebrities are also using emojis to reach out to their fanbase. A big advocate, Kim Kardashian released her own emoji app and it is raking millions. Her success has since been followed by other fellow celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Amber Rose. Every messenger app — from Skype to WhatsApp — also has its own set of unique emojis. How can something as simple as an emoji be so significant that it took the pop culture by storm?

The answer is simple — humans are visual creatures. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. When you send someone a text message which includes an emoji, chances are the recipient will focus on the emoji first. In fact, emojis are so universal that even a simple smiley face could replace a word or a sentence altogether, and still make sense. Their colourful expression also makes a better story than long-form text would — many would stop to look at a paragraph of emojis, just to see if they’re quick enough to decipher the message.

The emoji-craze is a great example of how brands can adopt pop culture into their content strategy. Times have changed, and being disengaged from current trends may lead a brand to being irrelevant to today’s consumers.

Move over Facebook, a new kid is in town

Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms used worldwide. However, a recent report by We are Social found that Millennials are now spending less time on Facebook than they did years ago. With a 50% slowdown in user growth, is the social media giant losing its appeal with the younger crowd?

A close analysis of the report has revealed that while Millennials are still using Facebook, they are more cautious of sharing private posts on the social media platform, choosing instead to use a more personalised and “safer” platform such as Snapchat. While Snapchat provides a personalised and more private experience – posts are not stored beyond 24 hours – the platform is also known for its wide range of quirky filters, “snapchat lenses”.

With popular favourites such as ‘dog filter’ and ‘flower crown’, brands such as National Geographic and The Huffington Post are hopping on the platform to connect with their younger audience. Even Michelle Obama joined the ranks of popular icons on Snapchat, and her first post didn’t disappoint the crowd.

Her intention of joining the app was to connect with a younger audience and allow them to follow her on trips around the world with her daughters. Michelle is also using the platform to build awareness around her latest campaign, “Let Girls Learn”.

While Snapchat was intentionally geared towards a younger crowd, it’s relevancy to today’s audience has allowed brands and even influencers such as Michelle Obama to relay their message via ‘snap stories’.

The New Role Models

It’s no secret that Millennials are now looking at celebrities and influencers as role models. Where once celebrities hid from the public eye, they now share updates of their private lives through various social media platforms. Celebrities are also getting more vocal with their opinions, with several often inspiring the younger audience with their posts. Brands who feel that a certain personality resonates with their messaging will then engage these celebrities to endorse their products.

One product that’s leveraging on this is Fit Tea. Social influencers such as Kylie Jenner and Kat Graham posed with the slimming tea product on their social media accounts. This resulted in free brand publicity for Fit Tea, while tapping on the millions of followers these influencers have.

While celebrities play a vital role in product endorsement, it also highlights the importance of keeping up to date with pop culture and drawing connections to it. Clearly, the celebrity or influencer chosen to represent the brand is a huge factor to consider. Gone are the days where celebrities don an ad persona to endorse a product. These days, you need to choose someone whose personal image and branding inspire and resonate with your consumers.

The marketing strategies of these brands demonstrate the importance of referencing pop culture trends and lingo to communicate well with today’s consumers. Customers often develop “authentic” relationships with brands the same way they do with friends – through social media, based on shared interests. So don’t be afraid to take part in existing conversations about pop culture and icons via these media, as long as you find a unique way to make them relevant to your brand.

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