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How can designers successfully appeal to the younger generation?

Natasha Frangos
05 February 2018

Appealing to a younger generation, who are more inclined to spend their money on experiences rather than material possessions, is a recurring headache for brands and designers. To stay afloat it’s important to continue to attract potential customers as they embark on the first stages of financial independence, but it is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s climate. Completely transforming a brand and business model is one option, but isn’t always possible, and there are a number of simpler ways to restructure outputs to appeal to this clientele, writes haysmacintyre partner Natasha Frangos.

Millennials are now the largest proportion of the workforce and their new found buying power provides a significant opportunity for retailers, with many brands going above and beyond traditional methods to attract their attention. In order to compete, brand owners and designers may be required to switch how they normally approach engaging with their target market.

A good first step is to ‘think mobile’. Traditionally ecommerce sites have been launched for desktop use first, with the equivalent mobile site considered of secondary importance. Today more than half of internet traffic comes from a mobile device, so an eye-catching and user-friendly website, built specifically for mobile viewing, is key. With millennials championing mobile and wearable technology they are likely to be transacting through a smartphone or tablet; more so than older generations. A mobile site that is clear and simple to navigate contributes to a seamless customer experience, and will pay dividends when appealing to younger generations.


Yoox Net-A-Porter: Mobile-centric

Fine tuning social media interaction is a simple and effective way to be noticed by younger customers. Whilst it is no easy task, brands that manage to master social media enjoy directly engaging with their consumers, particularly those from younger generation. It is well worth investing money and time into. Fanbytes, a social media advertising company, is an impressive example of a business that helps brands to establish their presence on social media.

The power of social media influencers has grown over recent years and their impact seems unlikely to wane. Collaborating with an influencer allows brands to utilise their extensive social media followings in an effort to target younger markets. Working with someone who sparks inspiration, recognition, respect, and is relatable to younger audiences, is a great way to access a younger market, and is often more financially viable when compared to celebrity endorsements. If you are unsure where to start when it comes to finding the right influencer for your brand, marketing businesses such as Whalar help to connect brands with the best influencers in their space. These matchmaking businesses pave the way for long established brands to take a different approach to appeal to a younger crowd, helping to make their products relatable and desirable to a generation that puts a premium on experiences.

Louis Vuitton and YSL have capitalised on influencers’ social media presence, revitalising their following as result. The younger generation have an increasing social conscience and brands that have partnered with individuals who address topical issues such as equality and gender neutrality have garnered further support by showcasing brand values beyond their designs. By working to become increasingly relatable and relevant, these luxury brands have created a following amongst younger consumers, and it is a good idea for all designers to rethink their messaging in this way.

Transparent communication of a brand’s stance on social issues, their commitment to ‘the greater good’ and authenticity is a sure fire way to attract a younger crowd. Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, showcasing their employees’ wider contribution, revitalising traditional craftsmanship and skills, ethical sourcing and manufacturing are all potential ways to inspire confidence amongst younger generations. This demographic are becoming increasingly conscious of their impact on the world and environment, and brands will do well to show they are also genuinely committed the same values.

Partnering with larger brands who have an established and loyal millennial following is another way to get your brand noticed by a younger crowd. Sophia Webster’s recent collaboration with PUMA is an excellent example of a brand tapping into a wider market and gaining broad exposure through association as a result. These partnerships are also an excellent opportunity for newer brands to learn from working with the long established, international household names. User generated content is also very effective in engaging younger generations.

Sophia Webster

Sophia Webster for Puma

Existing customers who become ambassadors for a brand are a great way to gain interest from target markets with a similar demographic. Experience-conscious millennial consumers are attracted by the opportunity to engage with genuine past customers in ‘real’ interactions. Providing a platform where interaction and engagement between customers is actively encouraged is a great method through which brands can appeal to a market that prioritises the customer experience.

Brands looking to appeal to new younger generations have a challenge ahead of them. Past generations placed massive importance on material possessions and were extremely conscious of the latest trends and ‘next big thing’. This mentality was easy for brands to capitalise upon, particularly for luxury high end names. But times are changing. If your brand is relatable, champions customer experience and displays a commitment to doing good in the global community, you are well positioned to appeal to this new youthful market – one that has proved a tough nut to crack.

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