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It’s no secret that the ascendency, and eventual victory, of President Obama was due in large part to the turnout of Generation Y, a generation largely reputed to be the country’s most apathetic voting bloc. For Curt Cuscino, Founder and Principal of HypeLife Brands, a leading branding agency targeting Generation Y, such an overwhelming response shouldn’t have been that surprising. “The important thing to focus on,” notes Cuscino, “isn’t the turnout of these voters, but the reason why they chose to vote for this President.
“Mr. Obama instilled a message of good from day one, a belief that a vote for him would go a long way in making the world a little better. This is a generation that wants to believe in things like that, and Mr. Obama understood that better than anyone.”
As the 2012 election kicks into high gear, audiences should expect to see a lot of this ethical appeal over the coming months. But as HypeLife Brands notes, it’s a message that should not be lost on brands large and small. They are quick to point to the rapid ascension of TOMS, the do-good shoe company whose mission to donate a pair of shoes for every purchased pair resulted in one million pairs of shoes given to those in less-developed countries - all in less than four years.
To Cuscino, who oversees the Millennial marketing agency, the lesson from TOMS, and other companies with similar missions, is clear. “There are lots of brands out there - Burt’s Bees, Starbucks, Nike’s LiveStrong campaign - to name a few,” says Cuscino, “who noticed early on that the best way to reach Generation Y is to appeal their sense of optimism.
“Most of these buyers are no longer interested in the best product for the cheapest price. They’re interested in the best product in every sense of the word. Price, that’s of much less concern.”
Sentiments like that explain why many members of Generation Y won’t think twice before spending upwards of $75 on a pair of espadrilles, or are happy to spend twice as much on everyday items like shampoo or lip balm.
And that’s why HypeLife Brands has been steadfast in urging its clients to employ three simple rules in their brand strategy:
Be honest. As a company, do what you believe in. Generation Y is as skeptical as they are passionate, which means they’ll be able to detect a PR stunt a mile away. Stick to your gut and make sure your brand stays true to that inherent sense of ‘good’ that got you started in the first place.
Back up your promise with product. It’s not enough anymore to simply want to change the world with your brand. To get noticed, and to stay noticed, you’ve got to have a quality product or service to back it all up.
Be real. You’ve got the mission. You’ve got the quality. Now get out there and make friends. Talk. Listen. Ask questions. Stay humble. You’ve got a real brand with real intentions. Don’t sell it short by selling it.
“Like 2008, the 2012 election is going to be a battle for Generation Y,” says Cuscino. “It’ll come down to who Gen Y believes in most. And that’s something brands can no longer afford to ignore.”
About HypeLife Brands
HypeLife Brands is the leading branding and marketing agency focused on helping brands engage the youth market, specifically Millennials. Key client industries include apparel and streetwear, musicians and recording artists, entertainment and extreme sports. Founded in 2001, the agency is headquartered in coastal Oceanside, California.