Is Beer the Missing Ingredient for Engaging with Millennial Men?
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Is Beer the Missing Ingredient for Engaging with Millennial Men?

Brands have a new love affair with Millennial men. Who is the Millennial Man, you might ask? He is a hard worker who is typically happier with his current career and making more money than his female counterparts. He also values social media and loves staying up to date with his favorite sports team and entertainment news. Millennial men are also considered to be gadget gurus and are constantly connected through their multiple devices, including their smartphone, laptop, and video streaming software.

Aside from his various devices, there are a few things a Millennial Man cannot live without. One of those things is his favorite beer chilling in the fridge for a night out with the guys or to drink while watching the game on Sunday night. As the youngest legal drinkers, Millennials as a whole have embraced beer drinking and are transforming the entire industry. Craft breweries are popping up all over the country, and Millennials are opting to pay more for craft beers. There are lessons to be learned from beer brands that are staying relevant and available to the Millennial men taking over the market.

Brand love is never static

According to research conducted by BERA Brand Management, there are five stages of development that parallel human relationships: new, dating, love, boredom, and divorce. Like every great relationship, the idea is to remain "fresh" and "exciting" to the other party. Heineken has mastered the art of remaining relevant and leveraging their brand authority to tap into the Millennial Man's thirst for adventure. In its "Departure Roulette" campaign released last year, Heineken pushed Millennial men outside of their comfort zone.

According to Heineken Brand Director Belen Pamukoff, "The only way to connect with Millennials is to inspire them and to talk about what they care about. For Heineken, it's go beyond your borders." Millennials responded positively to the new campaign, which kept Heineken in the top spot of favored Millennial beers.

Millennial myths

Millennials are often misunderstood as the "over stimulated" generation. This has led to a myth that this generation is disloyal and will jump to the next best brand as soon as they are bored with the first. Clearly people who believe in this myth haven't visited Chipotle to see the line for customers willing to pay full price for their Burrito Bowl.

Millennials are an extremely loyal generation and will maintain a relationship with a brand - as long as they continue to receive functional, emotional, and participative benefits. Mature brands are trying to stay relevant with young Millennials while staying true to what made them great. Budweiser has been around for decades yet still remains one of the preferred beers of the Millennial male demographic, though clearly not without challenges. According to a study released last year by marketing technology firm Unruly, Budweiser accounted for 59.2 percent of all alcohol ad shares in the first quarter. Although considered a more mature beer, new companies have a lot to learn from this old timer.

Corralling the lone ranger

One segment of Millennial men is more likely than women to value the "lone ranger" lifestyle. This segment believes that manhood stems from a desire to be independent. Research shows that men, unlike women, would prefer to eat and travel alone. Brands that target this Millennial man mindset are aligning themselves with Millennial values that rank high in the male demographic. Think of "The Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign from Dos Equis. It's important to note that the main character is never talking about the adventures he has with friends, only of his independent journey. This lone ranger style of communicating with Millennial males is becoming popular among top brands.

Five marketing lessons to apply

  1. Understand the headwinds and tailwinds of Millennial culture.
  2. Seek the intersection of your brand authority and cultural trends.
  3. Keep it fresh because love doesn't stand still (i.e., boys will look at other brands).
  4. Engage your consumer as a participant and do not refer to them as a target audience.
  5. Disrupt your last success, because if you don't someone else will.

Jeff Fromm is executive vice president at Barklay, a "fiercely independent advertising agency." He is co-author of Marketing to Millennials, lead editor of the blog, and founder of Share.Like.Buy, a conference about marketing to Millennials. Contact him at or 816-423-6195.

Published: June 10th, 2014

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