Jim Berra describes the target as “the savviest generation of consumers that’s ever walked the planet, with a very well-defined and developed BS meter.”
That’s as well-defined and compact a description of Millennials as could be imagined, given that experts in various fields hustle daily to add to the already long list of descriptors that have been gathered to limn them.
As Royal Caribbean International’s chief marketing officer, Berra has to wrestle daily with how to get them onboard for vacations. There are signs he and his team have begun to crack it.
“In your advertising, you need to be who you are,” Berra says of luring Millennials, less commonly known as Generation Y. “You also need to leverage influencers and outside experts to tell your story.
“The days of being able to just sit back and cast the perfect commercial and art-direct it to within an inch of its life – no one’s buying it. So we’re trying to be much more authentic.”
Authenticity is big with Millennials, who represent a golden market as the largest generation in the history of the western world. Reportedly, there are nearly 90 million of them in the U.S., and they make up about a quarter of the population in the U.K.
“As we think about trying to attract new consumers to experience vacations that we offer, our sweet spot is what we call ‘Maturing Millennials,’” Berra explains. “So think married couples, early 30s, typically with kids, but younger kids at this stage in the game.”
Royal Caribbean has developed a rapid-fire approach to advertising its charms to the Millennials – whose information lifelines are in social media – posting a video a day as 15-, 30- and 90-second “short stories” about the cruise experiences it offers.
“Today we look more like a publishing company than we do like a traditional marketing organization,” Berra says. “The web eats content at an unbelievable rate, so we have to be out there making it every day.”
Results? “Our overall passenger growth in the U.S. is up, let’s say, 8 percent,” Berra says. “We’re seeing kids ages 4 to 8 growing north of 20 percent over the same time period, the last year.
“So call it 2.5 times, roughly, the rate of growth of our overall guests, with kids kind of in that sweet spot of 4 to 8, 4 to 12,” which is to say the children of “Maturing Millennials.”
That’s the upper end of the Millennial age range of roughly 18 to 34 who, while they’re known as being careful with a buck, have more disposable income than other cohorts and are well into family life.
That’s where the brand is happily positioned to attract them, according to Berra. Shipbuilding innovations, many aimed directly at giving families new onboard experiences, has widened Royal Caribbean’s appeal and flattened the classic challenge that kids won’t have enough to do, that they’ll be bored.
“I think we’ve overcome that,” Berra says, satisfied, but not resting on any laurels.