Chief Executive: What You Think About Millennials Is Probably Wrong and Risky for Your Business

“CEOs have long known how much is at stake with the most populous demographic cohort in American history, a collective 70-million-some shoppers born between 1981 and 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

Some iconic companies have hit the shoals in large part because they’ve wrongly assessed millennial consumers. Harley-Davidson hobbled U.S. sales with an inability to lure enough millennials. Procter & Gamble is struggling with CEO David Taylor’s strategy of focusing on its huge existing brands over smaller, newer ones that millennials favor. And even amid a retailer renaissance in 2018, enfeebled JCPenney is flailing thanks to new clothing lines that don’t appeal to millennial women. Campbell Soup tried to bait millennials with soup in pouches and in zesty new flavors, but CEO Denise Morrison was ousted last summer in part because she couldn’t overcome the company’s association with traditional table fare in the minds of Generation Y.

‘Millennials are buying bone broth in shelf-stable boxes because they think the products are better,” says Ken Harris, a long-time CPG advisor and managing director of Cadent Consulting. “Soups are doing just fine; but Campbell isn’t.'”

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