Much is being made about the generational sea change being ushered in by millennials. The difference in the list of top ten brands between GenX and Millennials is yet another example with retail giants such as Canadian Tire disappearing from view. Social media capabilities or lack thereof are cited as a driving force behind these shifts. While there is no question that retail giants need to be social media savvy to engage this audience, it equally important for these retailers to demonstrate that their brands have the substance or depth that comes with living by a clearly articulated set of social values.
Research we have conducted underscores the millennial's continued desire to engage with brands that, like a Wes Anderson film, are able to erase the distinction between style and substance. In short, they want to engage with 'style savvy' brands which demonstrate that they care about more than the bottom line. This is good news for retail brands like West Elm and a watch out for Leon's. A recent Meta4 Insight home furnishing study we conducted reveals that home furnishing brands like West Elm engage millennials because they blend aspirational style with a commitment to community and the environment. Leon's, on the other hand, is not only perceived as 'cookie cutter like' but also 'predatory', 'aggressive' and 'ready to take advantage of the customer in order to feed their bottom line'. As a result, it is a brand that millennials will say 'they have nothing in common with'.
Leon's latest spring campaign promising to inspire these customers will feel hollow to a generation that does not 'admire' the organization's corporate values. In short, millennials want brands that are Wes Anderson like in their ability to erase the distinction between style and substance and in doing so deliver both.