Monthly Archives: March 2016

Guest Post | Rebranding for the Millennial Consumer

Seth Barnett is PPAI’s Diversity Development & Engagement Manager. This program was developed by PPAI to help the industry meet the challenges that come with a broadening generational demographic. Seth’s job is to develop new ways for businesses to meet the growing demands of an increasingly diverse workforce and changing buyer market. Businesses are encouraged to utilize PPAI’s diversity development resources at www.ppai.org/diversity and on social media by following #PPAINextGen. These resources are updated weekly and will help business develop plans to meet demographic challenges. 

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Millennial buyers are the first to share what brands they identify with and are loyal to. This buying group is the most brand loyal of any previous generation and prides themselves on the brands they know and love. Because of this, many brands are seen as characteristically outdated by Millennials and are struggling to meet the demands of the new customer.

This past year the Millennial Generation took their spot as the majority shareholders among retail consumers. Over the past few years many brands have adapted their marketing practices to meet the demands of a new buying group. Companies like Target, Nike and Coca-Cola have remarketed themselves over the past few years and are among the top 10 Millennial brands. Rounding out the bottom of this list are companies created exclusively for this buying group such as Axe and Anthropologie, which goes to show that even the most influential Millennial branded companies struggle to compete.

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Harley-Davidson’s new global marketing campaign titled ‘Live Your Legend,’ is designed to inspire generations to learn to ride and demonstrate how a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle can enable riders to create deeper bonds and share richer experiences.

For the purpose of better understanding what rebranding and remarketing looks like for a consumer company, I was surprised to find the 113-year-old motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson as one seeking to revise its image among young consumers and doing it the right way. This week, Harley-Davidson released a new marketing campaign that truly speaks Millennial. In conjunction with this, Harley-Davidson began a social media campaign, the first of its kind, titled #LiveYourLegend. The premise of this campaign is to show young consumers that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is no longer exclusive to the older demographic. The associated advertisement shows a young Harley-Davidson rider who has the perfect Millennial look mixed with biker edge. He is shown pulling into his garage where his toddler son waits for him on a toy tricycle. They ad concludes with “if you wait to live your dreams, your kids will miss the lesson”.

Harley-Davidson did something interesting in this campaign, they sought out younger consumers without alienating the older demographic or their existing customer base. The company used stories from existing Harley-Davidson owners about their experience with the motorcycle world to build a well-rounded marketing campaign. This gave the ad a sense of nostalgia while maintaining a trendy edge. This particular TV ad will be released during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a first for a Harley-Davidson commercial, which naturally targets the youngest consumer group.

Harley-Davidson has consistently shown investors that their target demographic is 35 to 74-year-old men of various income levels. However, these consumers will only decrease their national market share in the coming years. The present young adult consumers will make up the market majority for years to come. Harley-Davidson is a company that is choosing to be proactive to ensure their longevity. It is Harley-Davidson’s goal to have Millennials make up 50% of its market share within the new few years. Also worth noting here, Harley-Davidson expects 64% of its entire market to be female over the next decade. Again, this is all done through a careful balance to ensure that all consumers are marketed to equally.

Harley-Davidson is also seeking to provide another key element to the equation of selling motorcycles. They have tapped into social media and online campaigns to help drive traffic into their dealerships. Once there, customers will be met with a new Harley-Davidson experience. Harley-Davidson shops are no longer exclusively a place to buy a motorcycle or have maintenance done, they are a place to congregate and relax. Many shops have lounge areas, pool tables, constant activities, and free beer on tap (Pabst Blue Ribbon, the top-selling beer for Millennials). Harley-Davidson is developing a more welcoming, engaging environment that Millennial’s seek out. This helps fit the old economic logic that the longer a person is able to stay in a consumer environment, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Over the past two years Harley-Davidson has seen a steady decline in sales. However, they seem to be making the correct adjustments to welcome in new buyers and keep their products on the road. I suspect that Harley-Davidson will continue to advance toward the Millennial consumer market through carefully designed methods while maintaining their “Live to Ride, Ride to Live” attitude.

Guest Post | The Best of Government Spending

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post by Counselor Editor, Andy Cohen.

This Counselor Commentary was published in response to the KHOU investigative report broadcast last week.

Thank you Andy for your staunch support of this great industry!

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It’s common – and wrong – to question how government agencies spend money on promotional products. Those are smart investments, even though some don’t want to admit it.

Election season really does bring out the worst in just about everybody. Candidates, political action committees, backers, government officials, and voters even – they all end up slinging mud at some point in an election year. So, 2016 is certainly no different, and considering the tenor of the presidential campaign, it may even be the worst yet.

But one common line of criticism, which definitely ramps up during election years, is how government offices (local, state, federal) spend money on promotional products. These are used in many ways by public offices – rewards for employees, awareness campaigns, job fairs, and retention and hiring efforts. They’re all legitimate expenses because they provide value and help these government offices spread their messages and achieve their goals.

Not everybody wants to admit that. Take officials in Texas, for example. A recent report on KHOU, a CBS-affiliated television station in Houston, and online at KHOU.com revealed that the media outlet’s “investigative reporters” totaled up how much state government agencies spent on promotional products that it used as rewards for employees between September 2008 and December 2015. The grand total? A whole $8.8 million worth of what the report calls “trinkets.”

The range of promotional products that state agencies in Texas used over that seven-year time period – can I stress, SEVEN YEARS! – was rather impressive. There were items such as weather station desk accessories, water bottles, coffee mugs, travel tumblers, blankets, umbrellas, jump ropes, juggling balls, pens, notepads, and business card holders. They were also used in a variety of ways, including as performance and retention rewards, and as training tools at meetings.

“These items were purchased and utilized to reinforce training concepts,” Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told KHOU in reference to the juggling balls that the agency purchased. “Different quality control scenarios were written on the balls, and the balls were then used as a tool for the participants to answer scenario-based questions and apply the information presented during the class to reinforce learning.”

A completely reasonable purchase for a state agency to make, but KHOU decided to make this a referendum on public spending, saying that “your tax dollars” bought these items. The implication, of course? Wasteful spending. So, they found somebody who would speak out against it.

“I think it needs to be seriously looked at,” said Peggy Venable, senior policy fellow with Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit government watchdog group. “We do want government employees who are recognized for doing a good job, (but) how do we do that? I don’t think it’s with junk.”

Well, Ms. Venable, you have no idea what you’re talking about. It has been proven time and again that promotional products provide value beyond just the item that’s handed out – just check out the many ASI Ad Specialties Impressions Studies we’ve conducted at www.asicentral.com/study. They’re far from the “junk” you call them, because they actually provide a return-on-investment better than most other forms of marketing media. And, as rewards promotional products are particularly impactful because recipients actually keep and repeatedly use the items in their everyday life – reinforcing the message that the agency handing the items out wants to impart.

The media outlet in Houston and the one non-profit watchdog representative that they chose to quote are making a lazy and easy argument that tends to rear its ugly head whenever government spending becomes an issue. So, the whole state of Texas spent $8.8 million on rewards for employees and training tools over a seven-year period – less than $1.3 million per year for one of the largest states in the union. I’d argue that they didn’t actually spend enough, and could have gotten more out of what KHOU refers to as “your tax dollars at work” by doing more consistent promotional products campaigns. Maybe they should have targeted some extra education and training efforts toward local media, so they too can see and feel the impact of promotional products.