Lazy, narcissistic, entitled selfie-lovers? Or educated, savvy and compassionate multi-taskers? Whatever your view, and whatever traits you feel apply to them, there’s no getting away from the fact that Millennials are the largest and most influential generation in history. What they want, nay demand, is challenging how brands behave and market themselves. And, according to several recent reports in the packaging press, these consumers are even “transforming today's packaging landscape”.
It’s all about me
“Doing the right thing” is a big deal for this generation. Though they like to associate themselves with brands who are actively challenging global problems, even more importantly they’re keen to embrace products which make them feel special through a personal connection. Like the “Share a Coke” campaign which was credited with boosting sales by 2.5% and gaining more than one billion impressions on social media. According to Alex Lambrecht, vice president of Bud Light, who ran a variant on the idea with NFL team-themed beer cans;
"Consumers – and more specifically millennials – love a customized, personalized experience, and leveraging packaging is the best way to tap into that".
Limited edition, unlimited appeal
Making an offer time-sensitive has long been a tactic employed by marketers and limiting its availability is another. No surprise then that translating that into packaging can be a winning strategy as a recent Mintel report revealed that for Millennial shoppers,
“Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of consumers like packaging that has an appealing design dedicated to a limited edition, seasonal or special release.”
Millennials want to feel informed and involved, not just marketed to, therefore clear (and truthful) labelling is important. They’re known to be receptive to high-quality products packaged like private or exclusive brands, as reported in the Supermarket News report of October 2015,
“Millennial shoppers, with their unprecedented blend of purchase habits, have prompted select supermarkets to expand their store brand lines to include more upscale, one-of-a-kind goods geared toward 20- and 30-somethings”.
So Tesco scored points with its “Free From” range (gluten-free, dairy-free, and other allergen-free, etc.) but lost just as many with its made up farm-brands which received a backlash from consumers and the farming industry who felt tricked by the “little white lies”.
In Euromonitor’s report on Millennial consumer behaviour, 62% said they are “more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them across social networks”. Product packaging is ideally positioned to facilitate this and to provide a seamless link to the product’s “community” – by using NFC Tags, QR codes and more sophisticated image recognition technology – along with opportunities to engage with the brand using, for example, hashtags.
Premium packaging particularly is known to motivate consumers to share their excitement about a product or package on social media. According to 2015’s Dotcom Distribution Packaging Report,
“60% of respondents said they would be more likely to share a product image on social media if it came in gift-like box rather than in a traditional brown box.”
With research like Mintel’s confirming that “One in five US millennials is seeking custom or personalised packaging” the 10% of packaging that’s currently produced digitally looks set to grow exponentially.