Green Onion: New Marketing Strategy Employs Reverse Psychology on Millennials

It was just another article in the New York Times in which a Baby Boomer stumbled clumsily over the motivations of the Millennial generation like John Travolta holding a coat in Pulp Fiction. The article suggested that, according to the results of a 2015 report by Mintel, Millennials aren't buying cereal anymore because it's too much work; cleaning up after cereal (e.g., rinsing out the bowl and throwing it in the sink) is such a hassle.

Not long after the article was published, cereal manufacturers saw a spike in sales from Millennials. And this got marketing manager Tim Thurgood thinking: What if the secret to marketing to the generation that defies to be defined was to define their defiance?

"The cereal story was an excellent example," said Thurgood in an interview, "of reverse psychology and how it can be used in marketing. They took a simple premise, 'Millennials don't like cereal,' and because Millennials don't like being defined, they go out and buy cereal just to spite the article."

Thurgood is hoping to employ this method on a number of other things that Millennials don't like such as credit cards, cars, domestic beer, cable, and CostCo. The idea is to release an article detailing how much Millennials hate these things, get a few thinkpieces going about the article and annoy them into purchasing the thing that they hate because they've been called out on hating it.

"It's sure not to make life-long customers out of them," Thurgood admits, "but we're hoping once they have the product in their hands, they'll understand why it's important. At this point it's really just an experiment, anyway."

Thurgood and his company, Millennial Marketing, has pitched the idea to Ford and plans on running a few articles on specific Ford models to see whether sales of these models spike in the wake. He's confident that Millennials have enough money to go out and buy cars if they just get off their couches and do something useful for a change.