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Digital strategies and Australia’s millennial foodies: Part III

doughnut timeOver the past two weeks we have explored the success of a range of fashionable food outlets, such as the In-N-Out Burger pop-up in Sydney and Doughtnut Time, in targeting an audience many have tried and failed to capture the attention of, through traditional methods of advertising. Of course, we are talking millennials.

Millennials represent an increasing percentage of the buying power in our economy, and many retailers are chasing a ‘magic’ formula solution. But unfortunately there isn’t a ‘magical’ formula, as such, especially in this age in which you can no longer define an audience by pure demographics.

The first step to business success always starts by truly understanding your customer’s unique needs and drivers by investing in your own consumer insights research. Tools such as personality profiling, focusing on the ‘who’ we are rather than ‘what’ we are, is a good place to start. The next step is exploring global and industry insights to learn and be inspired by others, including those outside of your own sector.

Here is a formula that is proving highly successful in the fashionable foods sector. The combination of strong media coverage pre-launch, with communication of limited stock, limited time and ‘highly instagrammable’ looking food, branding, packaging and store layout has made the likes of In-N-Out, Fries With That and Doughnut Time, recipes for success with millennials.

This formula adds up to a Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket strategy’. Breaking it down a little further, if you’re considering a product or brand launch targeting millennials, how do you go about implementing a similar ‘golden ticket strategy’?

– Keep things simple. With the products and services we have reviewed over the first two instalments of this column, the retailer focuses on one food group and offers limited varieties within that group. Know your strength, and play on it.

– Build anticipation pre-launch with a strong PR and media relations strategy. Investing in consumer insights will highlight the key influencers within your target market, allowing you to capture the maximum return when investing in influencers.

– Be insta-worthy. In all the examples above, the food, store designs and packaging are all instantly ‘instagrammable’ providing maximum opportunities for user generated content (UGC) and consequently organically growing word of mouth, and ideally converting to further sales.

The growth of Instagram has outpaced the other leading social media platforms in recent years. And Instagram has an attractive user base for advertisers and marketers, with research showing Instagram users are more open to brand interactors and like to shop. Millennials live and breathe UGC, so immerse them in opportunities.

– Convenience. Make your path to purchase truly seamless, with your bricks and mortar store or pop-up in a convenient location. The basics of ‘right place, right time, right product’ are still as important as ever today.

– Offer added value through exclusivity. Create a sense of urgency with limited time offers during the campaign/launch, or perhaps make it only accessible for a limited number of people.

– Freebies. If you have a low cost, mass production product, freebies are fail-safe solutions for the queue-out-the-door buzz.

– Make an event out of it. People want to feel part of the action, so a product launch shouldn’t just be about the product. Consider the music, location, presence of media and key influencers, free samples; all these components can turn your launch into a social gathering not to be missed. Building excitement around these events leaves consumers hanging on the edge of their seat to be part of the next move. Doughnut Time are certainly leaders in this space, giving out inflatable doughnuts on Bondi Beach or an hour of free doughnuts during a store opening.

– Finally, honesty in your communication will continue to build positive brand image and create a sense of community, allowing you to continue to grow more successful launches and ventures for years to come.

It is important to acknowledge again that millennials as a market are currently anything from a 16-year-old school boy to a home-owning corporate woman in her mid-30s. Consider the broad range of personality and emotion-based drivers, social, environmental and psychological influences relevant to an individual in this market and it’s easy to see how standard demographical segmentation is no longer a strong basis for a retail strategy.

So while we have seen these steps prove highly successful for many retailers, investing in your own consumer, global and business insights always proves invaluable in underpinning a successful retail strategy.

Click Part 1 and Part 2 to read the previous columns in this series.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or

Vikki Weston, co-author of this column, is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team and can be contacted via email at .

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