4 important lessons on the future of innovative business; the Millennial 2020 mindset  

A couple of weeks ago Rebelhead Entrepreneurs were proud media partners for a  disruptive world class summit in central London called Millennial 2020. This proudly placed Rebelhead alongside media brands including  Forbes, CNBC and BBC World News.Millennial 2020 brought together over 3,000 of the world’s leading brands, marketers and start-ups to explore the future of next-gen e-commerce, marketing and entrepreneurship.

The summit has been built from the ground up, to directly address the immense challenges and unparalleled opportunities embraced  by businesses in today’s fast-paced tech driven world. The subject matter received unrivalled attention from attendees and exhibitors including Pepsico, Accenture, Selfridges, Uber, Expedia, Trip Advisor, Unilever and Jamie Oliver to name a few.

On a top level, the underlying investigatory narrative aimed to unearth one core line of enquiry; how do we go about marketing too, and building relationships with, a generation who have grown up with technology in their DNA? This is a sociological and commercial phenomenon. Unchartered territory for the evolution of the human race and the development of innovation in business. On a deeper level, the summit both embodied and personified the notion that Millennials value experiences far more than material possessions. The summit both embodied and personified this notion.

Set in the breathtaking low hung basement of Victoria House, among a vast expanse of white brick, shiny corridors and neon clad stands. Oculus Rift headsets, augmented reality guest passes, interactive artificial intelligence and robots you could actually converse with – were all just part of the furniture and the unique experience of the summit. The event fused the hyper-cool flair of a Shoreditch hipster den, with the class and sophistication of a luxury futuristic hotel in Dubai. Warmingly intimate and tastefully grand in perfectly equal measure.The atmosphere was electric. The conversation was inspiring and energising. 4 live immersive showcases, 3 curated conference stages and hundreds of buzzing interactive stands made for a truly unique experience.

I was lucky enough to open the Content Hub Stage on the Wednesday afternoon and give a short presentation and talk on  ‘The Future of Millennial Marketing’, after which I moderated discussions with  speakers from incredible companies including  Social Chain and Channel 4. Here are four key lessons we took from the expo:

  1. Millennial is a mindset
    The term ‘Millennial’ is not just an age bracket or demographic;  it’s a belief system and a way of thinking. The seamless integration of technology into our lives has now embedded itself ubiquitously, no matter your age. The intrinsic expectation we place on accessing the world’s information instantly, at the tap of a screen, is now perceived as normal. The millennial mindset is one of limitless pace and boundless comparison. We are more informed and universally aware than we have ever been before, thus we are better equipped than ever before to form mature and globally considered opinions. This affects us all and is by no means exclusive to those born between 1980 – 2000. The information economy has died a death; and  the general value of information is plummeting. We now live in a connection economy, within which we are all both observers and participants. Nonetheless, connections are themselves becoming commoditised by the plethora of macro social networks and micro niche portals, and we are fast approaching the emotion economy.
  1. Emotion is the currency of value.
    Extreme and exponential technological advancements are now an everyday part of modern life. They are impressive and exciting, but also expected and therefore taken for granted by today’s millennial society. Moore’s Law is prophetically running its course and sci-fi movies of just a few years ago are starting to look like fly on the wall documentaries of today. It’s very hard to surprise, impress or ‘wow’ a human being with a millennial mindset.  However, whilst so much attention is being focused on tech; there is a massive neglection of focus on the human element. If we (as brands, marketers and entrepreneurs) are able to captivate emotion in our audience, and communicate directly to the limbic brain,, then we are able to cultivate something more impressive than any slice of technology ever can: ; a genuine human connection and a brand advocate. This is how we build relationships with our audience and customers. Emotion is the currency of value for millennials.
  1. Disruption is the new language of business
    If you’re not prepared to innovate and challenge conventional wisdom you will get left behind. During a recent podcast interview I conducted, an incredible music entrepreneur called Peter Himmelman spoke about the infamous demise of the ‘traditional’ business model of the music industry. He said, “imagine you’re a diamond dealer – all your life you have mastered the art of curating, marketing and selling precious rocks that held great value and even better profit margins. All of a sudden, every single one of your customers can now push a button, hold out their hands and fill their palms with an endless supply of diamonds on demand for free. Your business is screwed! If you want to remain in the diamond industry, you NEED to find a new way of doing things.” This is of course representative of exactly what’s happened in the music industry over the last decade. Yet here’s the really important lesson – this is symbiotic of what is happening, or is about to happen, in just about every industry known to man . If you don’t focus on innovation, futuristic thinking and adaptation you are going to perish.
  1. Personalisation and experiences
    If the three previous points represent the ‘what’, this last point represent the ‘how’. Personalisation and experiences are the vehicles through which we should be connecting with our audiences. This is how we turn the wonder and amazement of our product or service, into a human connection that stirs emotion and subsequently drives behaviour. If we focus on building an engaged audience rather than a customer base, we build  trust. An audience wants to hear more; a customer base just wants the best deal and has no loyalty. An engaged audience will bring friends along to the show, and become your marketing department. Personalisation and experiences inherently start with the audience in mind, rather than the customer. This is what businesses targeting millennials must aim for, yet many struggle to comprehend the concept. ’We need to accept that this is the new way of doing things. You may think you have the customer in mind when you’re selling features and benefits, but the millennial mindset sees through this and understands that really, you only have your bottom line in mind.  The experiences you create must of course be relevant,valuable and authentically personal.  To neglect the importance of the two, is fatal.

Here are four key Rebelhead moments:

  1. My talk on ‘The Future of Millennial Marketing’:

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MAx talk2

MAx talk1

  1. The UMA (Unsigned Music Awards)  panel on ‘The Future of Music: Millennial Record Deals’:

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UMA m2020 panel 2

UMA m2020 panel 1

  1. Myself and Megs meeting Rio Ferdinand to talk about his new business #F5 Magazine:

Rio 1

Rio 3

Rio 2

4.The founders of disruptive augmented reality e-commerce technology GoInStore and myself discussing the ‘The Future of the Physical Store: Dead, dying or just different?’:

Goinstore 1

Goinstore 3

Goinstore 2


About The Author

Max Pepe

Max spent the first 8 years of his career in music, touring and recording with two UK / US rock bands. With a passion for marketing, Max launched a digital marketing agency in 2012. In three years grew a team from 2 people to 30, driving 800% growth year on year. Max now believes there is a massive disconnect between the world of business and the world of creativity. To address this problem, REBELHEAD was born. Max speaks regularly around the world about marketing and entrepreneurship. In 2016 gave a TEDxTalk titled 'Challenge the Concept That You're Either an Artist or a Business Person'. Aside from Rebelhead, Max is VP Marketing for award winning mobile tech company, Mozoo - and consults on marketing and growth for scale ups.

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