5 Gen Z Marketing Tactics From Minor Figures

June 22, 2021
Food & Beverage

Key Takeaways

Minor Figures is a challenger oat milk and coffee brand with a large share of 34 years old and under audience. The company skillfully builds and engages its community of young environmental-conscious people in 5 following ways:

  1. Establish Friendship-Like Connection with Raw Humor: Minor Figures doesn’t shy away from posting bold memes that might not even be related to the brand or its product but will surely add a drop of humour to its followers day. 55% of the brand’s Instagram content are funny unpolished visuals accompanied by tongue-in-cheek captions. Remaining true to its casual and funky tone of voice helps Minor Figures maintains a stable 1.5% engagement rate without overwhelming its followers with “tag, comment, follow” giveaways.
  2. Build Authenticity with Transparent Sales: When Minor Figures overproduced its Latte product, the brand announced a “Pay What you Can" sale. Minor Figures acknowledged the fact that they might have produced more products that they could sell and invited consumers to buy the latte at a discounted price. During the two days of the promo, the brand saw 26X more traffic to its website and 925 new followers on its Instagram account. 
  3. Entertain Brand’s Community with Engaging Contests: While Minor Figures occasionally opts for quick and simple “tag, comment, follow” sweepstakes, the brand aims to come up with creative ways to engage its community. For example, in July 2020 Minor Figures announced a contest aimed to both educate its consumers about acidity notes in coffee and inspire them to unleash their creativity. The brand launched a “High on Acids” giveaway that invited its community to go to the contest-specific landing page and create some “coffee art”. To participate in the contest, creators had to post their creations on Instagram, tagging the brand and using giveaway-specific hashtags.
  4. Publicly Acknowledge Missteps: When Minor Figures launched another contest in January 2021 which asked its community to come up with brand-inspired art posters for a chance to have them featured in outdoor ads, some followers felt like the brand was asking for too much. Hundreds of people suggested that brands should pay creatives for their work rather than expecting them to “work for free”. Minor Figures listened and canned the contest the next day, acknowledging that it made a mistake and reassuring its followers that it didn’t mean to offend anyone. 
  5. Inspire Community to Practice Sustainable Shopping: Minor Figures puts sustainability high on its priority list and in 2020 the brand announced it has gone carbon-neutral. Minor Figures came up with a way to enable its community to shop more responsibly. In 2020 Minor Figures launched an oat milk refill stations program — customers can purchase milk in bulk at the selected sores across the UK. This initiative helps the brand build awareness offline as well as provides a valuable online communication pillar.

Minor Figures is a challenger oat milk and coffee brand that originated in the UK and expanded its reach to 22 countries. The brand relied on offline coffee shops and retailers' distribution. Yet in 2020, Minor Figures had to shift their focus to its digital channels.

Despite the fact that oat milk is the best selling product, the communication strategy is very much focused on coffee rather than m*lk (this is how Minor Figures refers to its oat drink).

Founded by “coffee misfits” Minor Figures’ branding and tone of voice are funky and honest, which appeals to younger quality-seekers.

Minor Figures saw 20X traffic growth to its website in 2020. 

55% of Minor Figures website visitors are under 34 years old, the highest share amongst the competitive set. 

Minor Figures skillfully engages its community of young environmentally conscious people by leveraging:

Tactic #1

Raw humour

Minor Figures aims to build a community rather than sell products via its Instagram channel. The brand’s Instagram feed resembles a friend’s account — the content is raw, funny and very relatable. 

Instagram is Minor Figure’s main channel to connect with its community. The brand has accumulated 78K followers on this platform. 

  • Instagram is Minor Figure’s most dynamic channel. The brand posts 5 times per week and maintains a 1.5% engagement rate. Minor Figures keeps up a very casual and honest voice on this platform and doesn’t shy away from memes that would brighten their followers’ day.
  • Minor Figure rarely posts on Facebook, the brand added only 4 new posts since the beginning of 2020.
  • Minor Figure reserves its LinkedIn account to share business-related news and updates and post job vacancies.
  • On Twitter, Minor Figures mainly shares posts they are tagged in and doesn’t actively communicate on this channel.

Minor Figures connects with its followers by posting memes and funny user-generated content (55%). The brand doesn’t try to push its products via social media but rather strives to build a community.

Minor Figures is not trying to post only polished visuals on its Instagram feed, instead the brand opts for funny memes that highly resonate with its community and position the brand as a friend rather than aspiration. 

Based on 100 latest Instagram posts.

The visuals the brand posts on its Instagram account are not necessarily polished but always on point and accompanied by tongue-in-cheek captions. 

ER: 3.2% | Click to view

Committing to its true voice helped Minor Figures maintain its engagement rate at a steady 1.5%, with some non-giveaway posts reaching 5% ER.  

Tactic #2

Honest gestures

Minor Figures opted for transparency when it presented its Pay What You Want promo for the UK and US consumers — the company overproduced one of its products and needed to sell it out before it expires. The brand community welcomed both honesty and a chance to purchase the product at a discounted price, which resulted in brand appreciation and sales.

On February 23, 2021, Minor Figures posted about over producing its latte product and offered its followers to pay what they want to sell out the batch.

Website visits spiked to 94K over the two-day promo, which is 26X the average daily traffic.

During the two-day promo, Minor Figures’ Instagram account saw +925 new followers.

The spike at the beginning of the month was driven by a sweepstake asking to tag and follow for a chance to win a vegan rice pudding kit (+1.2K new followers in 2 days). 

Tactic #3

Engaging contests

Minor Figures experiments with keeping the contests simple yet engaging. Going beyond a "like, tag and follow" formula, the brand added a creative element to its “High on Acids” giveaway. Minor Figures created a simple landing page for the users to try a barista art and share their creations on Instagram.  

In line with the “coffee-first” communication agenda, Minor Figures launched a contest aimed to praise the acidity notes in coffee. The winner would get a year’s supply of the Oat Milk.  

Link to the stand-alone interactive website.

Minor Figures promoted the contest on Instagram and let it run for over a month.

The promo website generated at least 2.2K hits, mainly from users in the UK (50%) and the US (40%).

Directional data, desktop traffic only.

Participants posted 246 contest entries on Instagram tagging Minor Figures and added a giveaway-specific #highonacids hashtag. 

On August 13, Minor Figures shared three winning entries. 

Tactic #4

Admitted mistakes

Minor Figures is willing to publicly acknowledge when some of its initiatives miss the mark. Not all contests that go beyond a simple formula and seek more engagement resonate with the community. When one of the Minor Figures contests received negative feedback from its Instagram followers, the brand listened and humbly acknowledged a mistake.

In January 2021, Minor Figures launched a contest that called followers to come up with brand-inspired artworks and submit them via Instagram. Winners' works would be featured in the brand’s outdoor advertising posters. 

ER: 3.5% | Click to view

Contest rules:

  1. Create Minor Figures brand-inspired art poster.
  2. Post it on Instagram and tag Minor Figures.
  3. Winning works will be used in printed outdoor brand ads. The authors will receive monetary remuneration and brand prizes.

However, a part of the brand community didn’t agree with the contest rules and thought that asking creators to submit their work without paying for it was diminishing the value of the art. 

Minor Figures cancelled the competition the next day acknowledging the failure and apologized for offending some creatives. In turn, the brand received appreciation from both parties: those who were against the contest appreciated that the brand took a stance and pulled the plug and those who thought the competition was totally fair. 

ER: 3.4% | Click to view

A week later, the brand respectfully shared a few contest entries they received until the contest was canned with their Instagram community and thanked everyone who entered. 

Tactic #5

Practical sustainability

Minor Figures is concerned about the impact their operations have on the environment. The company has gone carbon neutral, and it also found an engaging way to get its conscious-minded customers on board. Minor Figures launched a milk refill program — coffee shops and stores can install an oat milk dispenser and sell vegan milk in bulk.

In September 2021, Minor Figures launched a Milk Refill Stations program across the UK — customers can purchase a glass refill bottle and buy oat milk in bulk in selected coffee shops and grocery stores. 

  • 45 refill stations installed 
  • In 30 cities across the UK
  • 700L oat milk sold in one machine in 2021 YTD* 
  • 15K cartoons saved due to the refilling initiative

Refill initiative provides Minor Figures with a meaningful and tangible way to make its consumers a part of the brand's sustainability mission. It also contributes to building brand awareness and driving loyalty amongst the environment-conscious audience. 

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