May 13, 2013

Mein Erster Blog Auf Deutsch


Millennials or Gen Y or whatever nitwit cliche you want to use to describe people born between 1980 and 2000 are the current obsession of the marketing industry.

I have a daughter right smack in the middle of this group. She is a lovely, wonderful, intelligent, well-educated, hard-working person. But she is... I guess the polite term would be "economically challenged."

A good deal of what she owns and buys is subsidized by her beloved parents. She is not alone. The economic data for this group is, unfortunately, disheartening.

As an example, people under the age of 34 buy only about 10% of all new cars. And the younger half of this cohort, 18-24, buy only 1% of new cars*. Facts, however, never seem to trump stupidity in the marketing industry.

According to a piece in last Friday's New York Times entitled Trying To Be Hip And Edgy, Ads Become Offensive...
"Some of the biggest names in marketing, including Ford Motor, General Motors, Hyundai Motor, Reebok and PepsiCo, have been forced recently to apologize to consumers who mounted loud public outcries against ads that hinged on subjects like race, rape and suicide."
Why are advertisers getting into deep shit over this stuff?
“It’s the pressure to create ‘viral’ advertising, the urge to get more views online, that leads people to push the envelope,” said Tor Myhren, president and chief creative officer at Grey New York. He added that another contributing factor was the focus on younger consumers. “There’s so much ‘How do we speak to millennials?’ in meetings,” he said.
Here's what I want to know. Why do car makers -- three of the five marketers mentioned above -- even bother with millennials? 90% of the people who will buy new cars are not these people. Yet they remain the obsession of these boneheads -- I mean, marketing leaders.

Let's give this some perspective.

According to Gallup, about 10% of Americans speak German. When was the last time you were watching TV or surfing the web and you saw an ad in German? The logic of American car manufacturers targeting millennials is equivalent to McDonald's running ads in German.

So why are auto marketers obsessed with 10% of their market to the detriment of 90%?

Right. Because they are fucking idiots.


*Several people have asked recently where my automotive data comes from. The answer is RL Polk.

26 comments:

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Anders Bisgaard Madsen said...

Nicely written, couldn't agree more. But shouldn't you grant the boneheads that if parents buy a car for their millennials, millennials might have a big say in choosing which one? So the numbers might not be quite as grave? Again, no doubt that the proportional attention to young people in ads is fucking crazy...

Simon Crunden said...

Without being overly contrary - couldn't it be argued that those 10% of millennials are influencers and play a disproportionate role in deciding which brands are cool and which are not? Many people, whether consciously or not, look to those younger and cooler than themselves for affirmation of their brand choices?

Guest said...

define "influencers", please.

I'm just curious, cause research shows there's no such "segment".

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RyGuy said...

Agree that Millennials shouldn't be the exclusive focus, but what about the next generation of buyers? Aren't these 75+ million people worth courting to some degree now so that when they (presumably) start bringing in some coin, your brand will be in their consideration set?

Jay said...

If you watch TV ads for the big 3 from back in the 60s (they're all over youtube), they were all focused on appealing to families and older folks - the people with money.

They built some of the strongest brands in the world doing this... boomers still have borderline-insane loyalty (try parking a Ford in the driveway of a Chevy household, await insults).

Now, they want to go after people living in dorms who consume noodles in cups and latte flavored vodka. People who could not get a 5 year loan without having someone 40+ as the primary lendee. Foolish.

Cecil B Demille said...

Being hip/cool is like being young. It ends suddenly, embarrassingly and with great consternation. I'll take the bird in hand over the two in the bush any day.

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dickwit said...

What is the average attention span of the millenial? 15 seconds? Why should one invest money in marketing and repeating himself to a millenial for over 5-10 years until he can afford the product, rather than target the actual buyer who can afford? What is the ROI in such scenario? Let's pretend the scenario:


Mercedes markets it's C-class for Rodney, who is about 18-25 Starbuck generation type. M markets and invests money for over 10-15 years until Rodney can afford the C-class, Rodney, of course, is considering M ads ar hip and cool, but the day he hits 32 years or so, only thing he can afford is KIA, which he buys to get to the work as senior-barista at Starbucks or whatever. There is a slight chance that he could afford the C class in another 5-10 years if he gets the "senior vice president of barista tech development branch of Glennsdale", but M has to invest again to market to this 30-40 y/o. When Rodney reaches 40 years, he'll most likely get the VP and a middle-age crisis, thus buying a used M3 beemer. So, M again markets for Rodney for 5-10 Years, now E class. So Rodney is now 50, with kids and Grandkids and has saved some tip money to actually afford the E class. Congrats! You've done well, M! It just took 20-30 years to sell that one E class!

geoff said...

Going after old people worked great for Oldsmobile!

adcontrarian said...

Going after old people? It's Not Your Father's Oldsmobile is going after old people? Hello?

Charlotte said...

Well, let’s look at the demographic of the average agency.
Filled with Gen X and Y. Were they ever trained to think beyond themselves? Do they take any guidance from their over-50 colleagues?

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Tim said...

I spent my twenties not being able to afford a decent car, or even any car for that matter. When I hit my thirties, I'd saved some money, had a few payrises and bought a BMW. Why? Because me exposure to their branding/advertising/marketing over the previous 10 years had helped me come to the conclusion that they were the best. I didn't even test drive a Mercedes, or Audi, or Volvo, or Nissan. Unless they start making terrible cars, I'll probably buy a new one every 3 years until I'm in my 50's. That's 6 BMW's away....

geoff said...

Exactly. Their last, desperate attempt to go after the youth market was too little too late. Mercedes ain't making the same mistake.

paulbenjou said...

If these cars were not focusing their ads on the younger audience you would still aspire to own one (or 6 over the years) because they are superior products .... not because you may have been targeted.

paulbenjou said...

It's not cool to have an "OLDS" no matter how old you might be. The problem is not their marketing .... it's the product (and its name).

paulbenjou said...

Even if you target an older group it does not imply that a younger audience isn't exposed. Targeting comes in two flavors ... creative and media. Over-targeting (too much focus) results in lost opportunities

Dragos said...

They're targeting the youngsters that have their cars bought by their parents. It's like with toys. They advertise legos or action figures to children so that they would go to their parents and ask them for the product. I think it's practically the same deal with cars.

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jswap said...

Someone needs a math lesson:

0.26 * 0.1 --> 2.6% of Americans speak German.

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Jonsey said...

This strategy was used by banks in the UK in the 80's; target early adopters and you will reep lifetime benefits. The banks spent billions targeting an ever younger demo (following their own logic to its conclusion) down to teens. They failed, and the strategy was abandoned.