Looking at Millennial Metaphors #1: Transformation

Putting the science of metaphor to work on the most significant ‘demographic’ cohort to emerge since the Baby Boomers will help demonstrate its power and unique ability to satiate marketers’ enormous appetite for insights into the Millennial psyche.

When working with metaphor it is important to begin with the handful of universal, deep metaphors that work across demographics and cultures.   This blog is the first in our Millennial Metaphors series and will focus, appropriately, on TRANSFORMATION or the deep metaphor of change.  

When exploring metaphors it is important to dig into all of their potential. Transformation can be actual or envisioned.   The change might unfold in incremental steps or it might be dramatic.   Transformation might be highly desirable or it might be feared.   Learning can be profoundly transformative.   A winning lottery ticket is instantly transformative.   Weight loss is a transformation that encompasses physical, social and mental change.    Gender transition and the Caitlyn Jenner story is a profound transformation currently dominating the public spotlight.

Most products and services are transformative in that they help consumers change from one state to another, transforming how they feel about themselves and/or their lives. They key is to dig beneath the WHAT to understand HOW the different transformations manifest among consumers.  For example, home furnishings are transformative.   In recent metaphor elicitation work with millennial women, we discovered three distinct motivations for the transformation of living spaces.    For some women this transformation is about self-expression, for others it is about designing places of calm and for still others it is about creating places of belonging.    

Understanding the transformative nature of home furnishings helps to explain why a creator brand such as Crate and Barrel resonates with millennial women.   It delivers on their deep desire to express themselves as they consider the canvas of their living space.    It is experienced as a brand that seduces you and fills your transformative ambitions with beauty and ideas. 

Finding the intersection of the transformative motivations of Millennials and the transformative qualities of the home furnishings brand is just one example of how metaphor can inspire brand building with deep insights. We’ll look at other universal metaphors and their potential to unlock the mysteries of Millennials in subsequent blogs.