Overabove Blog

How do marketers continue to attract valuable millennials to brands when what they want is instant gratification?

The plan was set. Insider advice given, acted upon and put into motion. Our objective? Find the ancient Roman road that leads to a remarkable, secluded beach and isolated peninsula. No crowds, no noise, just us and the most incredible blue sea this beautiful and precious Earth has to offer.

To get a sense of the destination, one must first understand the island of Sardinia. Surrounded by the Mediterranean, this oasis epitomizes the region’s unique lifestyle. Rugged and varied landscapes, deep cultural roots, hard work and incredible cuisine sustain some of the oldest people on the planet.

The list of peoples that have set foot on and claimed the island tells the story of our desire for expansion, conquest and progress. Prehistoric people in their ancient, mysterious Nuraghi were soon followed by Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Goths, Arabs, Moors, the Genoese, Pisans, the Marseillais the Aragonese and many others too tedious to mention.

The layers run so deep that it’s hard to escape the history that exists around every bend and every ancient, coastal road. Tell that to my millennial children and they groan with “yeah, so what?”

But it’s those very millennials that are at the heart of this story.

Despite the vibrant sky, the unfathomable blue of the ocean stretching out before us and the prospect of doing nothing but soaking in this paradise, something triggered our millennials once we hit the long anticipated ancient and abandoned thoroughfare. “Road rage” were the only words I could find to describe it. Roman road rage.

“What’s the matter with the beach we’re walking on now?” “How long is this going to take – why are we walking so far?” Are you kidding me, Dad?” “This is ridiculous.” “Can’t we just stop?”

Instant gratification was elusive at the moment – a sharp contradiction to their daily life. What they want, when they want it, on the device they prefer. All at their fingertips, catered to by advertisers, products, services and the media. Their whims answered, gratified and satisfied.

Their satisfaction on this day was not instant, and the virtue of patience was non-existent.

How do we as marketers continue to attract valuable millennials to the brands we represent when what they want, what they demand, is instant gratification?

Offering instant gratification is certainly one possible answer and likely the one that fuels many a campaign today. But don’t we need to go deeper? Isn’t it our responsibility to not fall prey to the instant, but to remind them that there is more than just the tweet, the like and the share? More than just the influencer phenom and his hilarious pizza reviews? More to see on the road ahead?

I keep coming back to the context of this story: ancient people, a place informed by traditions that matter, a road still standing after thousands of years echoing the story of us as a people.

Gratification comes in many forms. Once we arrived at our destination, my millennials dove in – literally and figuratively. The value and the power of the experience transcended the time to get there. They finally understood. I have to admit the beautiful topless Italians may have helped a bit, too.

In spite of their demands, I think what millennials actually value is substance, meaning and authenticity. Not the here-today-gone-tomorrow >flash and sizzle I mentioned in my last post.

As solid as that ancient Roman road is today, our ideas, our strategies need to be built with the same integrity.

Substance versus sizzle. Truth versus the trivial.

This, I believe, will instantly satisfy the needs of the millennial – and the rest of us, as well.

John Visgilio

Principal and Co-Founder