A mentor of mine many years ago shared his wisdom that we live in a world of real and fake, and the lines between these two can ebb and flow like the tides of the oceans. At the time, this was no news and as you read this sentence you are probably thinking the same thought.
But the reality – and wisdom – of time inevitably proves that no one can fake it, and especially in today’s social marketplace the fakes will eventually be called out and marginalized.
No marketing miracle can forever mask an inferior product. And the superior product will always make the marketing miracle that much more real.
Once someone has experienced your product, service, offering, or people the gig is up. If their experience does not exceed the expectations, even if those expectations are low, then time is working against you for the end to come.
Many times we hear of a company that has a superior product but lacks the marketing. These are the businesses and their people who are passionate for doing it right, of the highest quality, and with superior authenticity. There is no replacement for the best and they believe that eventually, because of the superiority of their offering, that the marketing miracles will come to them. Marketing and advertising consultants love these clients because of the upside in taking the product out to the masses who have never heard of it. That’s much easier than marketing a product of inferior performance.
What is coming to the coffee industry is a continued trend of product superiority as witnessed in the Third Wave. My definition of Third Wave coffee is about getting as close to the core product as possible. But strip this down to it essence and you will find consumers, especially Millennials, are seeking real product experiences and transparency. They are seeking out these coffee products and solutions that make coffee because they want to have the smart, genuine, and own-able experience of the product.
Many Americans are turning away from the factory-processed convenience of mass produced foods, and looking for what can be seen: the real ingredients that go into the product. The real people that make what we enjoy. The plants and animals that are involved and how they are really treated. They are looking for the preservation of the environment for a sustainable future, and for those consumers up and coming to coffee.
We want to know the journey that it all took to get from place to person so that we can feel good about the good food we consume.
To be precise, these types of consumers are not just coffee connoisseurs or insiders, but the wave of Millennials (those born between 1978 and 2000) now in the market…and those still coming that will be future coffee drinkers. Because of how they were raised and the unprecedented access to information at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to products that are verifiable and bona fide.
China has their “little princes” created from a one-child policy and in the U.S. we have our “trophy” generation, a label used to describe Millennials because they were raised by “helicopter” parents believing in the importance of self-esteem; so in competition there were no winners and losers – everyone got a trophy.
Millennials are confident and optimistic, yet they need structure. They are conformists and can be passive, but expect others to adapt to them. As babies, they were sheltered—the precious “Babies on Board” of the 80s— with their safety a high priority from birth. Infused with a “leave no one behind” mentality, they were taught to be inclusive and tolerant of other races, religions, and sexual orientations—everyone is special in their own way.
Here are lessons with this up-and-coming generation and where a coffee brand has potential to connect with them:
1. Millennials have a personal-values structure that is more pluralistic than other age generations.
Lesson: Show how your brand and product helps people and planet in need.
2. Compared with earlier generations, they are living ethnic diversity and appreciate inclusion. This is especially true for their tolerance of sexual diversity.
Lesson: Don’t market your brand as exclusive; let your consumer define its exclusivity and themselves as purists.
3. This is a “look at and listen to me” cohort who wants to be seen as smart and heard for what they have to say.
Lesson: Create online and offline spaces where Millennials can choose to speak to others about their experiences socially and as individuals.
4. For years Millennials were raised on having choice, adaptation, and the ability to select what other age groups never had access to and what they experience.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to experiment and let the consumer drive your innovation ideas through crowdsourcing. Let them feel that they have some control over your product.
5. According to the latest Pew study on Millennials, just 19 percent say that most people can be trusted. While still low, the number is much higher among Gen Xers at 31percent, 40 percent among Boomers, and 37 percent among the Silent Generation.
Lesson: Be a brand that has real products and show that your company is one that does what it says.
Some think that Las Vegas epitomizes that anything can be faked and that fancy marketing can sell any story. These individuals argue that Las Vegas is a man-made mirage of fantasy, super-hyped in its promise of anonymous adult freedom in the deep recesses of the desert where those hipster Millennials go to hang out.
But nothing could be further from the truth for those who have experienced Las Vegas. Go behind sin city’s curtain and what you will find is authenticity of the product vertical offering that wows and exceeds expectations. Cirque du Soleil? Bobby Flay? City Center? High Roller? They don’t fake it. Market your real.
Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research consultancy that continues to pioneer the use of personal-values insights and marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.