In case you hadn’t heard yet, Pepsi recently announced the return of Crystal Pepsi, their early 90s cult hit soda. Not only that, they’ve also packed it with everyone’s favorite educational death simulator, Oregon Trail. While this might seem like a pretty underwhelming announcement to a large segment of the population, it is earth-shakingly momentous to others.
Only people of a certain age can truly understand the sheer joy of sitting in a computer lab with a 20 oz. bottle of clear, sugary goodness while your entire family dies of dysentery.
I’m talking about the generation that drank enough sugar water to put a hummingbird to shame and shot more buffalo than ever even existed. To millennials, this announcement is like watching your childhood be gloriously resurrected in front of your eyes.
Overlooking no detail, Pepsi even designed their campaign-specific site, crystalpepsi.net, in what can only be described as true Geocities splendor. This throwback to early webpage design includes everything from rotating Crystal Pepsi GIFs and scrolling banners to a visitor counter near the footer.
If You Aren’t Marketing to Millennials, You’re Doing It Wrong.
It’s no coincidence that a huge company like Pepsi would be reaching out to young people right now. With each passing day, millennials are supplanting baby boomers as the nation’s most active consumers and trendsetters. In an increasingly digital world, the 15-35 demographic has taken control of the conversation and, increasingly, the marketplace.
If you look around, it won’t take long to see that Pepsi is far from the only company making blatant appeals to millennial customers. Cinemas are packed with adaptations of comic books that saw their heydays in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s hard to find a popular children’s show from those years that hasn’t been rebooted, repackaged, and resold in wide release. It’s clear that the largest companies are shifting their focus away from boomers and toward the future, and that nostalgia is the tool they’re using to power their efforts.
Nostalgia Transcends Generational Gaps
Nostalgia has always been a powerful marketing tool, and the reigning baby boomer generation was no exception. Try to find a city in America that doesn’t have a “classic rock” radio station attempting to cash in on the childhood and teenage memories of the 40-plus crowd. It wasn’t until the millennial crowd grew into a powerful consumer base, though, that the popular remake culture was born. Maybe it’s their newness to adult and professional life or the combination of high student loan debt and years of a bleak economy, but for some reason millennials seem especially receptive to childhood nostalgia as a marketing tool.
Running a successful business is about staying ahead of market trends. The economy is steadily changing and the youngest segment is driving most of the growth and activity. When big companies like Pepsi start shifting their marketing younger, it’s a sure sign that a sea change has come. In order to succeed in the coming years and decades, businesses absolutely must find ways to effectively market to young people.
Try Nostalgia-fying Your Marketing
If you own a business, examine your current marketing and see how you can optimize it to appeal to millennials. Whether it’s a nostalgic promotion, a more creative social media presence, or another method of selling the comforts they associate with childhood, finding ways to expand your reach in the youth market is the best foundation for future success. So sit back, hit the Trail, grab a Crystal Pepsi, and start brainstorming about how you’re going to tap into this powerful consumer base. If you’re looking for suggestions, we were all promised Hoverboards.