Hot or not- Youth sub brands

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How do you feel when an advert or marketing campaign clearly isn’t aimed at you? Bored? Disinterested? Perhaps even a little frustrated at the assumption made by those responsible for attempting the sell, without considering that you may be interested?

Now let’s flip the question. How do you feel when a campaign is trying to target you? Stereotyped? Misjudged, perhaps? With this in mind, it strikes us as pretty shortsighted, and rather risky, that major firms such as Vodafone, KLM-Air France, and Marriott have all unveiled new youth sub brands that, despite the firms’ best attempts to say otherwise,-are squarely aimed at ‘millennials’. Let’s look at the evidence.

Introducing the brands
Voxi is Vodafone’s new sim-only network. The benefits are actually pretty impressive- unlimited data on selected mobile and chat apps, unlimited calls and texts, free roaming in Europe (although that’s actually an industry standard these days), and, of course, no contractual obligations.

Moxy, meanwhile, comes from Marriott. As Conde Nast Traveler so eloquently reported in September, the brand is an ‘millennial-friendly answer to Airbnb’, with the properties in locations such as Times Square, New York.  It comes with no front desk, three rooftop bars, two restaurants, one egg sandwich shop (let’s not question that one for now), and ‘obsessively designed rooms’, in which there is an absence of business-related furniture.

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Finally, we have KLM-Air France’s Joon. Again, the target market is millennials, with medium haul services starting this autumn, and long haul from summer 2018. Passengers are being promised a connected experience that ‘stands out in the world of air transport’, with flight attendants sporting ‘new fashion codes- basic and chic’.

First impressions
It’s hard not to have mixed feelings about these offerings. On the one hand, Voxi looks to be quite the deal, but why is the assumption that it’s only millennials who would be interested in a sim-only phone deal with so much thrown in? As the earliest adopters of mobile phones get older, so too do those that began using mobiles in their teens. Some of those are in our own team, and none of those are adamant that a contract is essential, providing they get a good service and value for money.

Moxy, meanwhile, seems almost as confused. For one thing, not having desks in the room isn’t the same as being in touch with a target market. Many young people are choosing to freelance and work while on the go- there’s even an organisation that specialises in bringing independent workers together and sending them around the world for a year so they get to see far flung countries while still keeping up with business. Desks might actually come in useful for these types.

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Joon seems to suffer from the same issues, only possibly worse. Connectivity isn’t that much to shout about when the number of airlines- particularly long haul- now offering onboard WiFi is growing exponentially. There’s also the not-so-small factor of having WiFi, but that WiFi not being fit for purpose. The vast majority of passengers would sooner choose cheaper tickets over the chance to watch Netflix midair- in flight entrainment is actually pretty decent these days anyway.

The big problem
All of which sounds like we’re venting personal feelings regarding the desperation brands have when it comes to luring in the youngest generation of adult consumers. But that’s exactly the point.

Millennials aren’t just hard to define, they actively choose not to be definable through many of their actions. A loose age range, this is the first group in history to have grown up with the internet, advertising exhaustion, and an inbuilt cynicism when it comes to marketing efforts. Ultimately, then, the success of these companies will less come down to factors like trendy uniforms, and more whether the service provided is actually good, and needed in the first place.