Reaching Millennials: Authenticity Matters

Reaching Millennials: Authenticity Matters

by Tracy Johnson

If you’ve followed this site for awhile, you know how much importance I put on having an authentic brand. Authenticity matters. And it matters even more with millennials.

Your personality brand simply must come with values that stand for something.

This isn’t new to radio. But how you react to it is profoundly different. And it demands a new approach to managing your brand.

Authenticity Matters In Cause Marketing

One of the stations I work with wanted to know why it’s become so hard to sell tickets to their concerts and events to their 18-34 year old target audience. It turns out there are a lot of reasons for it. Disposable income is one challenge, but that’s not the biggest reason.

The most important one was voiced by one respondent in a focus group ,

If I felt like the money were going to support something cool, like the music program in schools, I’d feel better about going.

The other heads started to nod.

That cause is important. And it matters that you’re sincerely and deeply committed to the cause.

Promos Don’t Cut It

Here’s another thing that’s changed with today’s generation. You can’t fake it. In the past, many stations had a goal to make listeners feel good because of what they do. That was enough. Talk about the charities and the cause and you’d with points with the audience. If it was easy to participate, even better.

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That’s all changed.

Now, you actually have to DO good and BE good to earn those perceptual points.

All those PSAs don’t count. It doesn’t matter how many blood drives you sponsor or how many promos for the charity run you air. It does matter what you stand for and are committed to.

Your brand must be clear about what you stand for, and it has to be clearly and unequivocally authentic. Authenticity matters.

It has to be embedded in your DNA, a central part of your story. An integral, important part of your brand values. Generation Now demands that you show that you care. And that takes time, resources and focus.

Two Brands Doing It Right

Tom’s Shoes does a great job with this. They get support because they represent a cause. When you buy a pair of shoes, they give a pair to someone who needs it. Brilliant. Their shoes are great, but the cause earns loyalty.

Warby Parker Glasses does the same. They’re inexpensive, it’s easy to order and their customers love supporting them because they donate a pair of glasses for every pair purchased.

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This goes a long way: Save me money, do good for others. That’s a winning combination for those brands.

And here’s the good news: The audience is more concerned that you are doing good than who you’re doing it for. They don’t have to be a supporter of your cause to respect it. Millennials respect that you stand for something without passing judgement on what that something is.


You can do the same for your target audience. Entertain and engage them and make them feel good for being a fan by finding a cause and supporting it.

Make it part of your brand story and make a long-term commitment to it. And don’t wait. Start now, while you still have a chance to make a difference.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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