Scouting out millennial parents

Understanding the needs and more importantly the wants of millennial parents is becoming one of the holy grail of retail these days.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 20 – 24. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

The most sought-after generation is having kids.

Understanding the needs and more importantly the wants of millennial parents is becoming one of the holy grail of retail these days. But few understand this next stage of millennials and the keys to crack their enigmatic code. Tom Rugh’s Outdoor University at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market session on “Youth Engagement as a Marketing Strategy,” sought to try.

With a smile that could charm the pants off a bear or a board member, Rugh looked every bit the part of his role as director of marketing for Boy Scouts of America (BSA). His forecast for the organization and outdoor industry, was austere, but not without hope.

With 2.5 million kids currently involved in scouting, BSA is by no means a dead extracurricular. However, with soccer leagues and science clubs catching the interest of youth, not to mention the allure of staying inside to play video games, the organization is no longer the go-to, after-school activity it once was. Paired with a public perception reminiscent of the 1950s, the brand is up against a formidable foe.

The lynchpin to an increase in interest will require appealing both to these youth, but more importantly, to the millennial moms who are, across America, the household’s decision-maker-in-chief. “They are the gatekeepers, the ones signing them up, and we are looking more and more to who is this mom? What is she like? How do we target her?” Rugh said.

Research into the 18-34-year-old generation reveals they’re indeed a set of cagey consumers. Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in American history. They’re comfortable with technology because they grew up with it, tend to be less trusting overall and are more burdened financially. They generally have fewer religious and political ties and often stay single longer, leading to less traditional families.

Social media marketing is an obvious avenue to reach out, but more important is the broader peer-to-peer information train. Because millennials are a skeptical crowd, they’re often wary of messaging that comes directly from a brand. They’re far more likely to take something on the word of a friend. As a result, “getting that local advocacy is huge,” Rugh said, noting that no brand message is as powerful as a mom telling her peers what a great experience her son had scouting.

That recommendation extends to the outdoor industry as well. “Figure out who your advocates are, and make sure that those key people are posting things about your store,” said George Rogers of Weld digital solutions agency, BSA’s marketing partner, after the talk. “You have to catalyze that initial interest and then keep that stoke rolling.”

-- Courtney Holden

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