Why Experience Innovation Matters When Marketing To Millennials

2 August, 2017 / Articles
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Millennials may be afraid of dwindling job security and small savings accounts, but there’s one thing they’re not shying away from: change. Their life choices have taken a drastic departure from the more linear paths of their parents, and as millennials seek new life paths and products that better fit their individual values, even the most traditional businesses are having to adapt. While many areas are changing, few segments are evolving as rapidly as the wedding industry.

One of the major changes this industry is facing is when millennials will walk down the aisle – Millennials are tying the knot later in life, with 59% of them being unmarried today. Part of this decision to delay matrimony is due to financial insecurity, as they entered the job market around the Great Recession, after inflated tuition costs caused their student loan debt to reach an all-time high. Individuals are hesitant to enter a binding contract with another person when their own financial worries have created an underlying feeling of instability.

Another driving factor in delaying marriage is the growing philosophy that saying “I do” is just not necessary to live as committed partners. After watching their traditional Baby Boomer parents divorce, new norms ranging from the hookup culture to open relationships have reshaped the meaning of partnership. That’s without mentioning cultural changes in society, such as the much needed and deserved progression of women in the workforce and marriage equality for same-sex couples.

It’s evident that we are no longer living with the stereotypical gender roles and family dreams of the 50’s, and, as such, people are finding that traditional marital satisfaction is not necessary for happiness. These progressions in culture have led to less pressure to put a ring on modern relationships, as well as a desire to switch up the processes that come along with matrimony. Of course, many millennials still aspire to marriage, but what will weddings look like when every aspect of partnership is being redefined?

Understanding the desire for personalization in an experience economy

The brand ThirstyNest, a wine and spirits registry, found its beginning based on this question.

With the new median ages for millennial marriage now at 29 for men and 27 for women, engaged couples aren’t needing the traditional oven mitts or a toaster anymore. They already own the basics, and most don’t see value in adding more items to their homes.  And with many millennials opting to live in cities rather than the dreaded suburbia, couples just don’t have the space for a million more kitchen appliances or a china cabinet filled with crystal bowls. Instead of stuff for stuff’s sake, millennials are seeking items that enable personalized experiences.

Jacqueline Strum, founder and CEO of ThirstyNest, was no different. As she prepared for her own nuptials, she realized that she didn’t need many of the traditional registry items. Inspired by the popularity of wine and spirits within the millennial market, she created ThirstyNest so that engaged couples could register for things that create memories rather than a filled-to-the-brim junk drawer. By registering for alcohol and bar gear, individuals are actually receiving the experience of being able to celebrate their married lives over a glass of fine wine. And with millennials purchasing 42% of all wine sold in the U.S. last year, this helps millennials register for things that actually fit their current desires. After all, no one really wants another casserole dish.

Strum shared that one of ThirstyNest’s most popular features is the one-click registry, where all of the guesswork is eliminated and a personalized selection is suggested to the user. With just one click, an expertly-curated list of beverages and accompanying drinkware is complete, saving couples time and energy for other aspects of their wedding planning. It makes sense that this aspect of the brand is so popular, as it offers simplification and customization, both of which are high up on millennials’ lists of valued characteristics.

It’s also a significant disruption. With traditional registries, users are focused primarily on selecting the items they don’t already own. This makes the goal for couples to just complete their lists rather than perfect them. On the other hand, the ThirstyNest registry enables three main offerings: personalization, polish and functionality.

The key to their success is that each of these three offerings caters to deeper emotional desires of consumers. ThirstyNest users can personalize by creating their own vanity URLs and website pages, addressing the millennial desire to put an individual spin on the entire wedding process. That’s not to mention the ability to personalize all of the drinkware available on the site. By building polished registries that look like aspirational Pinterest-esque vision boards for a couple’s home, users feel empowered and inspired to use ThirstyNest as a tool to get one step closer to their dream life. Lastly, list management tools and functional items help every addition to the registry feel valuable and intentional, two things millennials want in a time where overconsumption is abundant and actively avoided. These three brand values work because they have been shaped around generational values and use innovation to expand a traditional industry to fit modern needs.

And who says it has to stop with one industry?

“In five years, I would love for people to come back to us and view us also as a great gifting and commerce outlet,” says Strum. “The wedding is only the beginning. I want to be able to continue to offer an opportunity for consumers to explore new tastes and mold their own.”

Earning consumer loyalty through experience innovation

Millennials are clearly craving services that can adapt as quickly as the generation itself is changing. They are uninterested in following the norms just for the sake of fitting in, and instead desire less stuff and more meaningful and tailored experiences. Their disruption of traditional life paths is changing retail as they shape purchases around their values. Brands that listen to consumers and find opportunity among their evolving wants and needs rather than in spite of them are the ones to watch, as startups like ThirstyNest are best-positioned to earn consumer loyalty.

The science man and innovator, Fernando Fischmann, founder of Crystal Lagoons, recommends this article.

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