Millennials are generally more environmentally focussed, tech savvy, and value companies and products that embody authenticity and demonstrate their social and moral responsibilities. They preference boutique operations and products over the commercial mainstream cookie-cutter operations, in a quasi-revolt against globalisation. Traditional marketing strategies no longer apply to this demographic, where word-of-mouth and a sincere brand story carry more weight than ‘expert’ reviews or a catchy jingle. They crave personal connection and uniqueness (read obscure).
Today, if you throw a pebble in the CBD, you’ll have a good chance of hitting a young bearded man drinking the latest craft brew. Craft beer, while still a relatively small segment of the beer market has grown exponentially over the last 5 years and is a great example of how the millennial preferences and tastes are shaping our reality. The premiumisation trend in the liquor industry has been well documented, and has begun making waves in the spirits sector. The big category movers are gin and rum, the once neglected cousins of Vodka and Scotch. You only have to look to the new Adelaide Hills Distillery to see a local example of this global trend.
One of the biggest recent success stories in the rum world traditionally dominated by the large multinationals, is that of independent spirits company Stolen Rum. Originally born in a one-bedroom apartment in New Zealand in 2010 as the brainchild of rum lovers and co-founders Jamie Duff & Roger Holmes, the brand was specifically created with the intent to offer the market a hip new alternative in a category filled with old-fashioned (read uncool) brands. Contemporary design and a DIY/Punk ethos, backed up by 3 medals at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Awards has launched the brand to cult status, and can be currently found in many trendy cocktail bars and restaurants across Australia and New Zealand and now in parts of the US.
A key component to resonating with the sometimes elusive and often fickle millennial culture is to embrace unusual ingredients or techniques and they have done both. They utilise column-distilled rum from a renowned distillery in Trinidad & Tobago, age in ex-American whisky barrels in the Caribbean, and then add the curious combination of premium ingredients sourced from around the world. These include refractionated Arabica coffee beans from Columbia, vanilla from Madagascar and fenugreek from Morocco. And their innovative style has also led to their creation of the world’s first smoked rum.
The Stolen Rum marketing department also tapped into the new cultural zeitgeist with a hugely successful campaign called The Stolen Sofas Project. The public was asked to ‘steal’ 150 branded couches on the same day across the globe in warehouses in Sydney, Dunedin and Miami with no strings attached. All couches were gone within 7 minutes. The campaign cleverly encouraged user-generated content through popular social sites Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #thisisstolen.
This can be a powerful strategy to get ‘cut through’ with the new consumer generation because it’s the perfect way to showcase customers’ personal experience with the brand in shiny photo-filtered form and turn them into an army of product ambassadors.
It’s clear that effective methods of marketing to the new generation are increasingly fluid and dynamic, especially when they’re forever chasing the next cool thing and are considerably less brand loyal than previous generations. Millennials vote with their dollars, and more and more companies are now listening. However, at the end of the day the product behind the image still has to stand up because the demographic have far more discerning taste than given credit for, and are less likely to swallow force fed advertising messages. For those who want to get on board the millennial train, Expresso Martinis are all the rage right now, so here’s the Stolen Rum recipe version to wet your whistle (read beard) with.
Smoked Espresso Martini
45ml Stolen Spiced Rum
15ml Coffee Liqueur
30ml Cold Drip Coffee or Expresso
10ml Agave Nectar + Pinch Of Salt
Put all ingredient in a shaker; shake with ice, double strain, serve in a martini glass. Garnish with 3 coffee beans
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