Marketers and brand managers faced with the challenge of marketing to Millennials should look to the dynamics of household structure for effective ways that influence path to purchase for their products. This is one of the key findings in a new Hartman Group report, Culture of Millennials 2011.

In its research, Hartman Group finds that Millennials are linked as consumers to complex household and family structures, whether by breadth of lifestages they represent (ages 16 to 30), living with their parents as young adults, or on their own with or without children, all of which influence changes in brand preferences in foods, beverages, and other consumer packaged goods categories.

“We’ve been observing for several years now the influence of the household on brand preferences,” says Laurie Demeritt, Hartman Group president. “We’ve maintained that while significant attention and marketing spend have shifted to shopper and retail-oriented promotions, the formation of brand preferences and choices occur primarily in the household, not in the store.”

Millennials begin to shift their brand preferences away from the brands they grew up with upon leaving home. One out of five — 20 percent — switch almost entirely to different brands when they move out on their own. While Millennials characterize their food and beverage brands and products as more healthy, organic and natural than those of their parents, they also say they are more expensive indicating an expectation for paying a premium for higher quality food and beverage experiences.

“These findings do not suggest that Millennials are averse to forging a relationship with a brand,” says Demeritt. “It means that companies and agencies should rethink and reimagine how they market to them. One of the most effective ways to connect with Millennials, in fact, may be in not marketing directly to them. Millennials don’t want to be advertised to, they want to be advertised with.”

As the report shows, some off the most popular ad campaigns with Millennials have almost nothing to do with the product itself, they are about fun, whimsy and most importantly, entertainment. The Culture of Millennials report is available for purchase from the Hartman Group:

About the Report: Culture of Millennials 2011, an immersive Investigation into a unique generation, gives you an up close and personal look at Millennials, a generation that is transforming the cultural landscape and will have a profound impact on the marketplace in ways yet imagined. In addition to providing unique perspectives on Millennials’ lifestyles and the culture of food, the report provides strategic direction for brand building.

About Hartman Group

With over 25 years providing primary immersive consumer research, innovative thinking, analysis and strategic direction Hartman Group is the undisputed leader in understanding Consumer Culture. With a fulltime staff of multiple PhDs and analysts, as sociologists, anthropologists and marketers the Hartman Group provides comprehensive insights into how consumers live, shop and use brands, products and services within the context of real life.

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