Marketing to Millennials: How Gold is Getting It Right

Thursday, September 06, 2012

World Gold Council's ad campaigns use humor to complement the strong tagline

Over the last fifteen years, platinum has become the aspirational metal of choice for many engaged brides. This wasn't an accident. Platinum was carefully marketed as rare and therefore prestigious, pure (since it carries a higher degree of purity than other metals do), hypo allergenic, and enduring. Yellow and rose gold were out, and while white gold became a big seller, it was viewed as what one bought when they couldn't afford platinum, and thus was perceived as an inferior second choice. This marketing did so well that in 2005, a study by The Knot found that more than 1 in 3 brides-to-be admitted that they would be disappointed if their ring was not platinum. Gold clearly had its work cut out for it.

Last June, the World Gold Council launched a new campaign with the tagline "gold makes it a marriage" and in addition to being catchy and strong language, the tagline is smart. It's smart because it taps into millennial values in a way that platinum still has not.

gold makes it a marriage white gold
ad campaign using white gold

Platinum's rise to first choice worked because they targeted values that Generation X shared, namely prestige and being able to afford the most rare metal in wedding rings because of personal, individual success. Gold's new strategy, however, is right in line with the millennial mindset and, in a slightly cynical -- though effective -- move, plays to Gen Y's fears in tying the knot.

Nearly half of millennials are children of divorce and, as the 2010 U.S. Census revealed, many are waiting longer to get married. However, 70% of millennials say they do want to get married at some point (only 5% don't want to at all) and more than 80% believe they will only be married once. And 91% consider people who have had successful long-term marriages as "heroes" worth looking up to. This generation does not want to see divorce as a viable option for themselves (though they are open to it as a choice for others) and would rather wait until they are sure they've found the right partner.

Millennials are also not impressed by the highly publicized short-lived celebrity marriages as of late, and more than any other group, are disgusted by what many perceive to be weddings-as-publicity-stunts. Whether intentional or not in relation to this angle, "gold makes it a marriage" is a strong reminder of which metal to choose if you don't want your marriage to be a sham.

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In that respect, gold's new campaign also appeals to the authenticity that millennials crave. Their tagline is anything but subtle: if you want your marriage to be real, you choose gold. This isn't about proving you can afford the most prestigious, this about living a real, authentic, meaningful life. Sure, you can choose platinum if you want to impress others with material success, but choosing gold shows others that you have your priorities straight. Like I said, a bit cynical, but effective.

Because gold came back swinging with such a strong campaign, it will affect other aspects of the lifestyle industry as well, including fashion and interior design. The "gold makes it a marriage" theme will impact the style choices couples make for their homes as well as in what they wear. Platinum won't give up without a fight, and it will be interesting to see how trends and styles evolve over the next few years.

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