Uncovering 4 secret ingredients of 'the modern brand'

| by Jeff Fromm
Uncovering 4 secret ingredients of 'the modern brand'

When you think about the to- performing food brands today (Panera, Starbucks, Shake Shack) they all have one thing in common. They have become more than restaurants or food products; rather, they represent the lifestyle of modern consumers today. In order to win with a new consumer market, food brands are being challenged to become more than just a product or service. Instead, in the experience economy, consumers are aligning the products they eat and where they eat with their lives and expect an adventure or elevated experience. Smart brands are providing this by tapping into the Millennial Mindset.

The Millennial Mindset is a new way to understand modern consumer behavior that is not defined by birth year. In an April 2016 study of 3,000 U.S. Consumers between the ages of 18-65, my team looked at what drives exceptional brand performance inside and outside the food industry.  We identified what we coined the Millennial Mindset, which classifies the influence millennials have on, not only their peers, but also up and down the generational line.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably already well aware of the major spending power of the millennial generation and their influence in the market. However, the real challenge is learning how to truly begin to navigate, prioritize and quantify that coveted millennial influence. The answer to this question lies in determining in what areas of the Millennial Mindset your brand has the biggest opportunity. 

There are six mindset drivers:

  • Social Circle: a brand I want to tell my friends about and will advocate for.
  • Self: represents me, my lifestyle and what I want to be.
  • Innovative: constantly in a state of beta and changing.
  • Trust: puts consumers' needs first and follows through with promises.
  • Accessible: simplifies my life and is easy to access, find and use
  • Purpose: adds good to the community and committed to making the world a better place

In the next several paragraphs, we'll tell you the secret sauce of the Millennial Mindset and what you need to know in order to connect with a new consumer market. 

Ingredient No. 1Understand what drives pricing authority

Without question, the greater experience your brand provides, the more pricing authority your brand will have. The kicker is that the experience must align with your consumers' lifestyle and values.

For example, the coffee economy is rolling along not because per capita consumption of coffee has skyrocketed.  Rather consumers are paying $4 for a cup of Joe that may have only cost $.40 at home because of the experience that is associated with buying a coffee.  That's a 10X increase in the value related to creating a unique experience! Think about the Pumpkin Spice Latte phenomena. Starbucks and other coffee chains simply created the product and it was the consumers who fueled the experience and ultimately lifestyle associated with that menu item.

Ingredient No. 2: Triple-bottom line brands have the edge

Consumers today are looking for brands that add good to the world and are committed to making our planet a better place. Today, brands must acknowledge the triple bottom line that exists — place, planet and profit. Businesses cannot exist in a modern market if they are only focused on the numbers in their P&Ls.

Blake Mycoskie is often credited with propelling the buy-one-give-one business model into the mainstream marketplace. When Mycoskie founded Tom's Shoes his goal was to create a for-profit business that had major environmental, economic and community impact. Not only did he succeed, he set a new standard for businesses across the board.

Brands that are committed to more than just their bottom line are the ones that will achieve the greatest success in connecting with Millennial Mindset consumers.

Ingredient No. 3: Technology needs to support a frictionless journey

Today's modern consumer whether they are a part of the Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X or baby boomer generation  expects their experience with a brand to be frictionless. What does that mean? In any given purchase process there are points of friction that exist. However, with technology today and the greatest amount of access to the internet we have ever seen, if a consumer experiences tension when making a purchase, they will simply move on to the next brand that has created solutions for those tension points.

Ingredient No. 4: Flavor and  lean proteins go hand in hand

Today's consumer is a day trader; you know that. High-low budgeting is a trend we have seen dramatically affect the economy in recent years. Consumers will spend up to make a purchase that they deem worthy, and as a result, buy low-cost products or services elsewhere. 

When it comes to food, they want flavorful choices and but they need lean proteins.  Chicken is a starting point but Turkey, Tofu and other choices seem to be gaining ground as they allow unique flavor profiles to be added to the menu.

Leah Swartz,ContentSpecialist at FutureCast, contributed to this article. 

Topics: Customer Service / Experience, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Operations Management

Jeff Fromm
Jeff is executive vice president at Barkley, an advertising agency in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also the lead editor of MillennialMarketing.com and a co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. wwwView Jeff Fromm's profile on LinkedIn

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