by Josh, Creative & Design
Millennials, millennials, those damn millennials. Just the mention quickly diverges into a fist-shaking critique of their work habits, emotional sensitivity, and their cyborgian connection to social media. Well, we’re not here to jump on that conversation. We like millennials. In fact, with nearly $1.3 trillion in purchasing power and almost 50% of their food expenses coming from dining out, we LOVE millennials. Gen Z on the other hand, geez it’s like they are a bunch of socially conscious, risk-averse babies. Basically, the younger generation will never be as hard-working/enlightened/pleasant-smelling/athletic or as awesome as our generation, says EVERY GENERATION EVER.
See, we’ve already digressed. What we really want to talk about is the dawning of a demographic subset. The MALLennial. And for those urbanites that aren’t familiar with the term “mall” you can call them HALLennials (as in food-hall aka mall food courts-sans-mall). It doesn’t sound as smooth, but the principle is the same.
Mallennials are more of a target audience in methodology vs. simply a demographic. We take the same principles that make brands attractive to millennials in a packed digital space and apply them to the crowded physical space of malls and food halls. Think of grabbing a snack as the eating equivalent of “clicking.” (No, “likes” is not the equivalent of licking… well, actually it kinda is).
We defined this demo as we helped Wafflejack, a brick and mortar Hollywood and Highland success, transition into a more packaged concept suited for growth into malls and shopping centers. Since we hadn’t stepped into a mall since … geez, maybe since we bought that lava lamp at Spencer’s? … we had to explore the landscape.
Dining options hadn’t changed as much as we had expected. Hot Dog on a Stick, Panda Express, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Auntie Anne’s, Mrs. Fields, Orange Julius, and Dippin’ Dots (ice cream of the future? They never saw Salt & Straw coming). Despite the mall’s evolution towards “lifestyle centers,” these gastronomic-geezers have stood their ground while new concepts constantly turn over.
We realized that it wasn’t enough that Wafflejack was introducing a brand new craveable snack to the marketplace. To make them stand out as a sustainable concept, we had to amplify the brand principles that would appeal to Mallennials:
BE YOU Own who you are. If your concept is evenly remotely defined as “something for everyone” then you need to rethink it. In fact, there is probably already an Applebee’s in the vicinity that offers exactly that (it’s in the same parking lot as Sears, BTW). Your concept should be distinct. Focus on something very specific that people can’t get at any surrounding eatery. Or at least do it way better or markedly different than anyone else.
BE LOUD You’re in a crowd of “look at me” and the fact that other concepts can tap into a familiarity that you haven’t established yet means you need to shout even louder. Be bold, be bright, be different. This applies to your physical space, as well as your social and marketing presence. Take a good look at all your competition and see what everyone is doing. Now do something else.
BE SHAREABLE Both with the friend next to you and your friends online. Smaller, bite-sized, customizable items get the most mileage within a group. Just like small plates, you order a bunch and everyone can partake. If it’s good, you order more and more. The more people are enjoying it, the more it’s shared on social media and the more impressions it makes.
BE SOCIAL By their nature, shared things are social – but you can’t leave it up to the product to do all the work. Create other opportunities that people can’t help but photograph and talk about, like marketing, packaging and environmental design. Be careful though, as gimmicks that are self-serving and aren’t true to the brand can have a negative impact. If you have a “selfie station,” we will haunt you.
BE THE DESTINATION People are willing to travel for food. We’ve found ourselves miles outside of our comfort zones just to eat some tostada/sandwich/bon-bon, etc. crouched on some curb or in some alley. If food drives people to do that, then getting them to go to a shopping center shouldn’t be a problem. Accomplish everything above and it definitely won’t be.