Burgers, Beyonce, and Branding: A Reflection on Millennial 20/20

Kite Hill’s UK team recently attended Millennial 20/20 - recently rebranded as FUTR - a fairly new event located in East London’s Old Truman Brewery, focusing on how brands, marketers and retailers can respond to ever-changing consumer culture and consumption habits.

What was striking about Millennial 20/20 was its atmosphere. Though partially attributable to the free waffles and popcorn, there was an infectious excitement and a noticeable lack of formality. Exhibitors and attendees alike seemed to bask in the opportunity to meet and chat in a relaxed and casual way. Within this context, it was inspiring to explore a range of mar/adtech, digital media and retail companies’ work and, after a morning of insightful talks and panel sessions, we left feeling stuffed full of both ideas and burgers (having dropped by Deliveroo’s wall of burgers activation on the way back to the office).

Here are the key takeaways from our favourite sessions:   
     1. What Beyoncé’s beyhive can teach us about brand loyalty
Josephine Hansom, Head of Youth Research & Insight, YouthSight

Hansom explained that being truly strategic requires a creative and innovative approach to communications strategies, one which is cognisant of trends in wider society and culture, and one which takes inspiration from outside of traditional PR and communications thinking. This session explored - through the lens of Beyonce - how to cultivate brand loyalty with Gen Z, by transposing the characteristics young people admire in celebrities to your brand and messaging.

  • Be unapologetically disruptive. Like with her groundbreaking album Lemonade, Beyoncédisrupts the status quo with everything she does. Prior to Lemonade, she hadn’t released an album in almost two years. That in itself is disruptive in today’s music industry, and it hasn’t cost her any fans.
  • Stand for something. From her Black Lives Matter Superbowl tribute to her Formation Scholars college grants, Beyoncé is a committed activist. She stands for causes outside of her main talent, and does so with authenticity. Gen Z expect celebrities, influencers and brands to be ethical, virtuous and just. However, this doesn’t extend to a CSR campaign or token project, this must form a central component of a brand’s identity.
  • Be real. Social media has fundamentally changed the ways in which audiences can communicate and relate to celebrities and influencers. Young people align themselves more closely with those who are authentic and imperfect - who Snapchat without a full face of makeup, who Instagram Live stream eating pizza in their pajamas. Gen Z doesn’t relate to the perfectly coiffed, impeccably executed: they look for real and raw, for truth.

     2. What does authentic marketing look like in today's world?
Moderated by Rich Kitto, Head of Creative Brand Strategy, The Tab

With speakers from Yotpo, Lifestyles, Tata Communications, Lego, and Livearea, this panel explored the concept of authenticity in marketing, how it has come to be expected by today’s consumer, and how to execute authentic brand marketing strategies.

  • Brands should engage directly with their consumers, letting them guide brand and marketing strategy. This comes from listening to the consumer, and allowing them a space to have a voice in the brand.
  • Authenticity and trust in a brand comes from friends, families and peers - so marketing strategies must be centred around empowering an audience to share stories. Stories add realness to a brand, and are the foundation of awareness, authenticity and loyalty.
  • Communications strategies must also be holistic in order to build authenticity. The experiential aspect of a brick-and-mortar store must tie together with the experiences of brand interactions on social, apps, and ads, allowing consumers to connect with a brand in a way that’s individual and organic, and therefore authentic.