retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

You gotta know your customers. Because when you don’t, it can be like the air being shattered by the force of a blow that doesn’t connect.

In other words, a whiff.

The Washington Post the other day had such an example. It happened when the Class A Lexington Legends, which is affiliated with the Kansas City Royals, decided to hold a “millennial night:” to attract some new customers to the ballpark.

In doing so, the Legends’ crack - or maybe cracked - publicity team promised to give millennial attendees “participation ribbons” because, in the team’s words, “” … we know it’s a big feat to leave the safe confines of your home with Netflix beaconing you to stay on the couch, so the Legends are ready to congratulate fans on their accomplishment, even if they are still in sweatpants.”

Just the kind of approach designed to warm the heart of a millennial with disposable income.

But that wasn’t all.

According to the Post, “The team also said that fans would be asked to sign a petition to make Avocado Toast the official food item of Kentucky … Naps were also being offered between innings (although blankets weren’t provided). Additionally, fans were encouraged to ‘bring their own coloring books and colored pencils in case the game is too stressful and they need to find an escape’.”

Yikes.

There’s nothing like condescension to alienate potential customers.

Needless to say, millennials made their displeasure known, especially through social media.

One team spokesperson said, in the aftermath, “We didn’t realize people would take it in a negative way.”

Time to get a new publicity department, because it ought to be fairly obvious that if you insult or disrespect your customers, it isn’t going to be good for business.

I, for one, am tired of the ways in which some people of my generation like to generalize about younger folks. There are high achievers and slackers of every age, and to characterize any single age group as one thing is lazy thinking. Besides, there even are wide divides within individual generational groups, and an older millennial can be very different from a younger millennial. If you’re in business and want to appeal to these folks, it makes sense to understand and respect these differences, and then cater to them in specific and targeted ways.

This story serves as an Eye-Opening cautionary tale.

The Legends’ millennial promotion may have generated media and social media interest, but it didn’t generate any more business. So it failed on a number of levels.

I did, however, like the Twitter posting from one millennial who gave as good as she got:

“Wow. I really hope no one got paid for that promotion. I’m sure boomer night will be a big hit too, first 10000 boomers to blame millennials for anything get a free hat and bowl of soup.”

Boom. Drop the mic.
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