Friday, June 04, 2010

At Least We're Not Dr. Scholl's (Yet)

Country music radio, in spite of Taylor Swift's amazing success, (click that link to see her artistic sensibilities in the current issue of Marie Claire!), remains largely a Boomer brand, with a big bump in our demographics 45+ (click that link to read the article and blog comments on it which prompts this post).
"No brand can ever rest easy with one target audience, but brands that have relied heavily on Boomers for their success really need to think like Mercedes and consider how they will engage the wave of Gen Y consumers that could be the key to their futures."

Cole & Weber United President/Ad Guy Mike Doherty made me think of the great run country has had for the last 25 years, thanks to the good fortune (brilliant strategy?) of bonding with the boomers back then they were 25-34 and how, now, like Saturday Night Live, CNN and National Geographic, our long heritage requires rethinking our entire approach as we seek to draw the 80-million strong "Millenial" generation, who now dominate 18-24, 25-34, thus 18-49, and within just a few years, 25-54.

"For Gen Y, formats like CNN that were once revolutionary are irrelevant. Headlines along with a touch of analysis are available everywhere. Check out this article for a good read on CNN's woes.

"For Gen Y, content can be informative and educational but must also be very entertaining in the process (à la "The Daily Show" or Huffington Post). There isn't time for both entertainment and information digestion separately. Content providers could learn from sites like and For National Geographic, it seems that with a new face and new ways to distribute its content, it could be reborn as the the content source for conscientious Gen Yers passionate about environmental and cultural issues worldwide."

You can reach all three generations which straddle 25-54 today, but it requires a different mindset and actions now:

  • Show that your brand cares about them by involving them in a wide variety of aspects of your business.
  • Collaborate with cachet brands (thanks, Taylor!)
  • Avoid hype with a simple and clean style that feels fresh, hipper
  • Be an active participant in pop culture and embrace the lives of all listeners, including Gen Y. For example, SNL’s Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host is an obvious example of Gen Y's cultural force. They saw how hilarious she was in her Super Bowl spots and turned her hosting gig into a mission. This is particularly interesting as it proves that like Betty White's brand (no offense to her), you don't have to be a new brand to appeal to Gen Y.
  • Tell stories. Be informative or educational, but you had better be extremely entertaining in the process.
  • Other boomer brands like Tylenol, Bayer, Advil and even Band-Aid could learn how to relate to Gen Y from brands like Vitaminwater, which helped the generation care about staying hydrated.

Need an example closer to home?

Brad Paisley (among, lucky for us, many others) pulls it all off just by being himself. His authenticity, mix of sensitivity, self-deprecation and humor, yet fearlessness in singing about what he stands for may be an even more applicable role model for most of us.

Having something to say and lots of talent completes the package.

Is that you?

It better be if you hope to keep from being seen as the audio equivalent of orthopedic insoles.


Gord said...

The Millenial in our house surprised us when she put a National Geographic subscription on her birthday gift list along with all the other expected Gen Y necessities. (iPhone, flash memory cards, Starbuck GCs) Thanks for the explanation, Jaye.

Tom Scott said...

This is so right on...people don't live in a box and our country listeners are no exception. Embracing them and how they connect with music, entertainment, information and each other should be our new mission without assumptions that often end up with country radio reinforcing the same stereotypes that have dogged us for years.