Grilling Brands Fire Up New Strategies For Millennials

Weber, Char-Broil and Lynx Are Changing Marketing Tactics as Demographics Shift

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Char-Broil has taken a digital-first approach to its marketing plan.
Char-Broil has taken a digital-first approach to its marketing plan.

Whether it's propane, charcoal or electricity as the fuel, the grilling and barbecue industry is preparing to pass the tongs from older buyers to millenials.

Younger consumers are predicted to be 65% more likely to purchase a grill in the next two years, according to a report from global market research firm Mintel, which released its findings as "National Grilling Month" comes to an end.

The report also revealed that consumers are switching their interests from gas and charcoal grills to smokers and electric grills.

But the grilling market hasn't satisfied millennials' needs as of late, according to Lindsey Rogers, a consumer analyst for Mintel. "Millennials, who tend to be multicultural and urban, live different lifestyles than their parents did, and their lifestyle needs aren't necessarily being met," she said in a statement.

Companies need to factor in possible lower incomes, as well as different housing and technology when thinking of younger consumers, she added.

The trend is a recent phenomenon that, for some, is a surprise because a grill purchase usually comes during the time when someone buys a house, which is a purchase most millennials haven't made yet.

But millennials are compensating for low home ownership by taking their grills on the road, according to the report. Based on the data, which surveyed 2,000 people, millennials have key interests in grilling at parks, while camping and at other peoples homes. As grilling habits change, brands like Weber, Char-Broil and Lynx are updating their marketing.

"Millennials are just the hottest topic probably for every consumer goods brand," said Kim Lefko, executive vice president of marketing for Weber Grills. "We fit really well into their lifestyle because they love food, they love entertaining, they love bringing people together."

Weber has maintained its target consumer as the "family man," she said. But as it reaches out to younger consumers, Weber has almost exculsively used digital and mobile platforms.

Ms. Lefko said the campaign also includes out-of-home ads. Weber grills spent $3.1 million on measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

The 67-year-old Char-Broil brand is looking for the most innovative ways to reach millennials, according to Director of Digital Marketing Paige Farrow. Ms. Farrow said the company's marketing efforts are nearly entirely digital. "We just feel that in this day and age, we want to show up in the relevant places where consumers naturally are in their daily lives versus spending a lot of money and just hoping that we reach people," she said.

Char-Broil and Lynx Grills have launched apps that allow users to monitor temperatures on the grill and provide suggestions for cooking. Daniel Chin, director of marketing for Lynx, said in an email that the brand is striving to reach a younger demographic by "orienting our products, service and marketing toward a connected experience."

Lynx grills is one of several brands that is marketing toward millennials now.
Lynx grills is one of several brands that is marketing toward millennials now.

The company, according to Mr. Chin, is currently focused promoting its app, called SmartGrill, to dealers and vendors.

And while Lynx only spent $347,000 on measured media from 2011 to 2014, according to Kantar Media, Mr. Chin said the brand is hoping to continue to promote its products with a digital-first mindset to consumers.

"We pride ourselves in being nimble, so we are always updating our strategy to meet trends," he said. "We want to leverage those platforms in a way that is organic and logical."

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