A Millennial employee just came over to my corner to ask about the music playing during our food shoot. With his nose wrinkled up he asked, “What is that?”
What’s funny is that I had just texted my husband, a Steely Dan fan, that we were playing Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly” in the office. And if, like our Millennial, you don’t know the connection between Steely Dan and Donald Fagen, or worse, don’t know Steely Dan…well, I’m sorry for what you’ve missed in life.
What was completely connecting with me was foreign to someone else. Truth is, this co-worker and I have few things in common, and we respond to marketing differently. And yet, brands still try to reach us both with the same tactics.
Brands today are all seeking relevance, but aren’t really sure what to do with it. They want to be relevant to the consumer, to their employees, to the marketplace in general. They spend time and money to make sure their messages are relevant and that they aren’t overstepping into areas where their brand really doesn’t fit. And yet, as our world embraces yet another buying generation—as Gen Z grows up—brands are faced with understanding relevancy across a wide variety of memories and behavior patterns.
Music to a Millennial is Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, Skrillex, maybe Death Cab for Cutie. Gen X is Alanis Morissette, Blues Traveler, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Green Day. Boomers relate to anything Dick Clark promoted. And yet, today’s music moves across all genres, all artists, and recreates “old” music in new forms and with new technology, which just confuses the issue. Are we all melding together into one big pot of memories? Or are we distinctive people, sometimes fueled by our generational preferences, but more likely powered by our own needs and wants.
Relevancy has moved into a place where it’s now not just about appropriateness, but about the other side of relevance: making a true connection. You can do that regardless of demographic or generation, but understanding your audience is a good starting point. Finding the right key to unlock the code is still the issue—who is our audience and what will cause that immediate connection to the brand.
It’s at least something to think about. While you figure it out, put on a little Donald Fagen and see what you just may have been missing. Good art is, after all, good art, regardless of generation.