ConneXion Research

Yes, brands can use market research to Speak “Millennial”, and here are some brands that are doing it right.

Most brands recognize the impact that Millennial consumers can have on their success. The real challenge is balancing the drive to engage tech-savvy Millennials while continuing to cultivate Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Finding this balance is the essence of tribal marketing, but having such a broad appeal for a brand is no easy feat. That’s why Millennial-mindfulness seems to be the marketing formula for success in the hotel industry.


Here is why Hilton Hotels created a new brand:

The Hilton hotel group is the latest company who put their consumer insight to use and added a unique twist on this consumer trend. Instead of trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole, their marketing team decided to create a new brand called Tru by Hilton. This brand is specifically designed from the ground up to appeal to a broad “millennial mindset.” The parent company describes this mindset as “a youthful energy, a zest for life and a desire for human connection. No brand is meeting their needs in their price point today.”

(Redering Credit: Tru by Hilton)

A closer look reveals their marketing strategy combines younger, design-forward branding along with a more modest price point. It is the addition of the latter that the brand believes gives it an advantage over other competing brands of which there are several.

Unlike other hotels, Hilton decided to go beyond rebranding some of their hotels, giving them a hipster makeover, and calling it a day.  Instead, they reimagined the entire hotel experience from a Millennial perspective. The result is Tru.

These hotels have vibrant colors, a lobby designed with eating spaces, game playing, working, and socializing along with efficient, contemporary guest rooms. It’s the guest rooms that have stirred the most controversy because they don’t have desks. Tru’s market research revealed Millennials generally disdain them and prefer to use tablets and smartphones to read emails and interact on social media while lounging in bed. Eliminating desks freed up a lot of valuable real estate that Tru used to their advantage when designing their guest rooms.

(Redering Credit: Tru by Hilton)

In press release for Tru, Jim Holthouser, executive vice president, global brands, Hilton Worldwide explained why they created this brand, ”More than 40 percent of all U.S. hotel stays are within the midscale and economy sectors.” In addition, he added, Tru fills “…a gap in the marketplace by appealing to the youthful mindset demographic, pushing the industry to marry quality and value.”

It’s becoming harder for big brands to differentiate themselves from one another in the hospitality space today like they did in the past. Many travelers are crushed for time, looking to save money, hungry for unique and social experiences. Brands are hoping that having a Millennial-mindset will help them stand out and succeed well into the future.

Here is a sampling of how some hotels are using a Millennial Mindset to grow their brands:

wHO: AC Hotels, Parent Company: Marriott.

(Photo Credit: AC Hotel)

HOW: Originally created in 1998 as AC Hoteles S.A., parent company Marriott International imported the first AC Hotel to the States from Spain in 2014. This brand targets Millennials looking for a hotel experience with a “design-led sensibility.” AC Hotels have a grey and charcoal color palette and are built around a first floor lounge that’s European-inspired and serves up craft beers and tapas-style snacks next to an open kitchen space. A nod to technology is evidenced by the brand’s mobile app that lets guest check into their rooms via their smartphones.

WHERE: AC Hotels are in Chicago, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C., plus global locations that include Denmark, France, Italy, Portugal, and of course, Spain. The brand plans to open new 22 hotels in 2016.

wHO: aloft hotels, Parent Company: Starwood.

(Photo Credit: Rockwell Group for Aloft Hotels – Starwood Hotels & Resorts)

HOW: The first Aloft hotel opened in Montreal in 2008. The brand has since launched across the U.S. and internationally. Most Aloft hotels are located in city centers or close to airports. Sometimes these locations are built in low growth areas with the intent to revitalize urban development.

Notably, before opening its first hotel, the brand created a virtual one using Second Life, the online virtual world. By doing this, the brand conducted market research by letting visitors interact with an Aloft Hotel virtually and studying their behaviors and preferences. The company analyzed this data and incorporated their findings into the design of future real world Aloft Hotels.

Aloft Hotels have a bold, contemporary brand aesthetic and feature a loft-like open lobby and bar concept that’s repeated in all of their locations. Additionally, the hotels are pet friendly.

WHERE:They have 190 hotels located throughout the U.S., and many other countries.

wHO: CANOPY, Parent Company: Hilton.

(Rendering Credit: Canopy Hotel -Reykjavik Canopy Hotel Central Retreat)

HOW: Tru isn’t Hilton’s only boutique brand. The company also has Canopy. Hilton’s executive vice president of global brands, Jim Holthouser, said in a press release Canopy is not trying to appeal to a particular demographic. Instead, Canopy is going after hip consumers who want rooms at an “accessible” price point and don’t want to feel like they’re staying in a hotel chain even if though they are.

“They’re not into cookie-cutter types of lodging products,” he explained. “They’re the ones who are looking for unique local experiences. You do get a lot of Millennials in that segment. You get a lot of LGBT in that segment.”

WHERE: The first six Canopy Hotels are under construction, the first completed one will be in Reykjavik, Iceland this summer.

wHO: hyatt centric, Parent Company: Hyatt.

(Photo Credit: Hyatt for Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami Lounge)

HOW: Their first hotels opened in 2015. By definition, Hyatt Centric Hotels are intended for central (“Centric”) business hubs and tourism destinations that guests will naturally want to explore on foot. It is a trendy boutique brand the company’s says features a central lounge designed to help guests “recharge and socialize.”

Kristine Rose, VP of brands, Hyatt in a press release explained, “We call them Modern Explorers because these are travelers who are very curious, very independent, and very time-crunched,” Continuing, she added, “They have a wish list and they really want to make the most out of all of their experiences and reasons for traveling.”

WHERE: Centric has U.S. hotels in Chicago, Houston (The Woodlands), Long Beach, Miami, and Park City. Many other locations including are planned.

wHO: EDITION Hotels, Parent Company: Marriott.

(Photo Credit: EDITION Hotels London)

HOW: Positioned on the luxury end of the Millennial-Mindset scale is EDITION. They are a collection of individualized, one-of-a-kind hotels, intended to reflect their locations rather than repeat a cookie-cutter corporate design.

On it’s website, the brand says, “Each hotel…reflects the best of the cultural and social milieu of its location and of the time. Although all of the hotels look completely different from each other, the Brand’s unifying aesthetic is in its approach and attitude to the modern lifestyle rather than its appearance.”

Where: Currently, you can check them out in the States in Miami and New York City and internationally in Istanbul and London. They have seven other locations scheduled to come online between 2016 and 2017.

wHO: Moxy Hotels, Parent Company: Marriott.

(Photo Credit: Moxy Hotels for Moxy Milan Malpensa Airport Hotel lobby)

HOW: In collaboration with Ikea, Moxy first launched in Milan in 2013, the brand will open its doors in the U.S. in 2016. Moxy is specifically focused on the “millennial traveler,” someone who wants style and technical amenities at “attractive prices.” The company’s website describes its hotels as “bold, confident and hip” and each location will feature a modern, industrial-style lobby with a 24-hour café/bar.

One way the brand seeks to engage Millennials is on in social media. Guests who choose to hashtag their hotel experience photos and videos on Instagram (#atthemoxy) can see their posts streamed on Moxy’s “Guestbook (,” which is a video wall located in the hotel lobby streaming Instagram posts.

WHERE: Be patient. Currently, Milan is the only location, however, New Orleans and Tempe are scheduled to open in the first half of 2016. Nine other locations will be opening later in 2016 and followed by two more hotels in 2017. The brand expects to have 100 total hotels in the next five to seven years.

wHO: Tru Hotels, Parent Company: Hilton.

(Rendering Credit: Tru by Hilton Market)

HOW: Hilton is launching a new hotel brand, focusing on travelers looking to spend $75 to $90 a night. Hilton Worldwide has over 4,500 hotels globally.

WHERE: Its website says the brand has 102 hotels signed and an additional 30 hotels in various stages of approval in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Nashville, and Portland.


If you’re interested in learning more about how a Millennial-Mindset marketing strategy could help your organization gain a Millennial Mindset to grow your brand, then contact the market research experts at Connexion Research.


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