Let's Not Forget Our Veterans This July 4th

Millennials are as ready as anyone to celebrate this 4th of July. But it looks like they prefer to keep their parties and patriotism close to home. 

In a recent survey, 68% of Millennials said they plan to celebrate Independence Day this year, which is consistent with other age groups. And when asked what they’d be buying to fuel the party, 18 to 34 year olds were almost twice as likely as adults 35+ to say fireworks (50% vs. 28%) and flags (34% vs. 17%). But at the same time, it looks like Millennials may be more interested in a killer cookout than a nod to today’s patriots — our veterans. 

Compared to adults 35+, Millennials were more likely to say they want brands to get involved with the holiday by “offering promotions and deals that help people get more for less" (54% vs. 40%) and less likely to say brands should “honor a selection of veterans with free products, services, or July 4th experiences” (28% vs 44%). 



This doesn’t mean the generation is completely unpatriotic. Only that they appear to be motivated differently around this holiday. A recent Ypulse study supports that young Americans do subscribe to their own idea of patriotism. In the study, 83% of 14 to 32 year olds said they are “proud to be an American” and 69% said they consider themselves “patriotic.” Furthermore, Millennials say they are open to brands making patriotic ads (19%) and creating corporate social responsibility programs that benefit veterans (14%). They simply aren’t as motivated by “free stuff for veterans” as the older crowd. They’re more passive about their support for veterans. 

Brands can and should step up to provide value to both age groups. Although it’s true that 18 to 34 year olds are more focused on their own fun than on veterans, incorporating support for veterans would play well with the 35+ crowd. This support can come in the form of donating proceeds from holiday sales or making donations to relevant veteran support charities. Brands already doing this have an opportunity to break out of the promotional clutter. They can use social media to drive corporate responsibility initiatives forward this July 4th. I’m not suggesting to move away from the deals and the celebratory aspect of the holiday, but there is definitely some room to find a balance here.

Walgreens has a long history of supporting American troops and veterans so I look forward to seeing what they serve up this year for July 4th. Lowe’s is also a proud supporter of veterans, providing men and women who have served in the U.S military with 10% off this July 4th. Last year, Lowe’s impressed us with their DIY Vine videos, and took the cake for their fireworks videos. The text simply read "Happy 4th of July!" — no promotion, no link to their website. Just a simple, personable, well-wishing message for the holiday, and a very nice break from company-focused promotions we're used to seeing. Classy move! 

Consumers across all demographic groups should appreciate these efforts by marketers and have a feel-good approach about purchasing products from brands that support veterans while enjoying their July 4th weekend. Millennials are patriotic, but they really are motivated differently around this holiday and it’s important for marketers to take this into account when planning their July 4th campaigns. And as we all enjoy the celebration, I hope we can take a moment away from the barbecue grilling to take stock of the spirit of the day and remember the veterans who fought for our ability to indulge.

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