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The Onward ‘Missing Millennials’ report highlights a common belief that people tend to become more conservative as they age, but challenges this notion by focusing on the millennial generation. Onward conducted research on the political attitudes of millennials through a nationwide poll and focus groups in specific areas. Their findings reveal that millennials are critical of the Tory party, with only 21% of them currently inclined to vote for it. Millennials feel that the party is not addressing their concerns and lack hope for the future. Housing affordability is a significant concern for them, and the perception that the party has not done enough in this regard has negatively impacted their view of the party. However, the research also indicates that there is potential for the party to gain support among millennials. While they may not currently vote for the party in large numbers, they do hold conservative values and have a positive view of business and low taxes.


The report also discovered that millennials are favourable towards Rishi Sunak, I want to focus on why this is the case, and why branding and delivery should be part of the solution to win the missing millennials.


“There is one small silver lining for the Conservatives. Although Millennials take a dim view of the Party, they are more favourable towards Rishi Sunak. There is a clear ‘Sunak effect’ among voters in their 30s, where the Prime Minister polls much better than the Conservative Party.”

Millennials favour Rishi Sunak, but won’t vote for his party.


The Onward report states that millennials desire lower taxes, and as a millennial myself, this rings true. My generation deeply desires lower taxes. The report also highlights millennials’ preference for Rishi Sunak, which is also accurate.
However, Rishi Sunak, the person favoured by millennials, has significantly increased taxes on them. One might naturally assume that such tax increases would turn millennials against him. Surprisingly, this has not been the case, suggesting that something else is at play here— this is Rishi Sunak’s Brand and his Delivery.

If millennials desire lower taxes, why do they still support someone who has
increased their taxes? It’s because they appreciate his brand and his delivery.

Some people may automatically assume that millennials favour Rishi Sunak because of his race, given their social liberalism and acceptance of diverse races and cultures. However, this assumption doesn’t hold up since the same group strongly opposes individuals like Suella Braverman and Priti Patel. Thus, race and culture are not the determining factors. I am adamant that the culture wars pose a significant barrier to selling conservatism to millennials and Gen Z, even the millennial capitalists, entrepreneurs, and libertarians don’t buy into them. Many millennials are expressing fatigue with discussions surrounding immigrants, statues, and trans issues like women having a penis, fact is they don’t affect them. Culture wars fail to cut it with millions of economically deprived millennials and Gen Zers.

Branding


Rishi Sunak’s selling points are his character, personality, soft voice, slow tone, his story, and cuddly appearance. When Rishi adopts an attacking stance at the despatch box, he seems out of place, whereas Boris Johnson appears in his element.
Rishi also embodies what most millennials and Gen Zers strive for—progress and success. His story of rising from humble beginnings to achieving everything represents hope. Unlike other party leaders, a lot of millennials don’t perceive Rishi as an establishment figure. His voice lacks the ‘toff’ accent and he isn’t seen as a ‘silver spoon-fed’ politician from the Bullingdon boys club. The average millennial cannot relate to the upbringings of Boris Johnson or David Cameron, as their experiences differ greatly from those of 99% of millennials and Gen Zers. Rishi Sunak’s parents were both grandchildren of the Great British Empire and immigrants to the UK, embodying a rags-to-riches journey. People identify with this, and they desire it, especially working class people. Plus who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story, right?

Millennials and Gen Zers are starting to admire the ‘Man in the Limo’.

This is why I believe the left and liberals focus more on tarnishing Rishi Sunak’s wife. His wife doesn’t represent progress and success like Rishi does; she aligns more with Boris and Cameron, being born into considerable wealth. Attempting to
use Rishi’s wealth against him is a misguided move because it indirectly tarnishes success and entrepreneurship. Boris, Cameron, Corbyn, Starmer, May, Blair—none of these individuals was an entrepreneur or achieved financial success before entering politics. Rishi Sunak did, all before the age of 35.
He is also the kind of person many millennials can sit down with at a local pub or Hackney bar and have an engaging conversation. As a millennial male, I think to myself, “I could get along with this dude, he seems relatable.” I am not a conservative, so if I feel this way, many others like me are likely thinking the same.


Don’t just take my word for it—give it a try and you will understand what I mean. Gather ten different pictures of Tory MPs smiling, including Boris, Mogg, Sunak, Patel, and others. Create a collage with these ten pictures and observe how Rishi
Sunak stands out from the rest. Analyze how his smile exudes ‘happiness’ and ‘hope,’ while most other smiles convey ‘smarminess,’ and ‘superiority’.
Go to Google Images and search for ‘Rishi Sunak’s smile’ and then search for ‘Jess Phillips’ smile’. Look at the differences between the two. Who do you think the average millennial and Gen Zer could get along with? The one acting superior? or the
one exuding happiness?
I understand that some readers may find my perspective illogical, but I encourage you to try and understand the mindsets of both millennials and Gen Z, understand how they think. Sometimes a lot of little things can form one big thing.

Traditional conservatives need to adopt the mindsets of millennials and Gen Zers, and they need to do it ASAP.

Boris understood the power of branding, but his brand was a ‘joker’ brand that resonated with older generations. This brand helped him win the mayoral election in one of the world’s most multicultural cities and become Prime Minister under very conservative and illiberal policies. Boris positioned himself as a brand for
boomers and the average bloke from Blackpool to Bournemouth. However, this brand doesn’t attract millennials and Gen Z, but since they weren’t Boris’s target audience, it doesn’t matter.


Many of the factors i mention collectively paint a picture of Rishi Sunak as an outsider, embodying hope and the potential for progress that is attainable for the average person. I believe many traditional tactics used to gauge and understand millennials can be a little flawed. Polling and surveys primarily focus on policies and ideological beliefs, overlooking character, personality, and image. Millennials and Gen Zers are drawn to character, personality, and brands, which is why they admire individuals like Mr Beast, Elon Musk, Andrew Tate, Jake Paul, the Kardashians, PewDiePie, and many others.


We will witness the power of branding play out in the upcoming battle between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. One candidate offers policy, while the other only offers a brand, and I would bet on the brand winning the battle. Trump is already beating DeSantis in the polls and he’s yet to issue a key policy.


The downside for Rishi Sunak, which dilutes his brand, is that he is associated with a political party perceived as toxic. Millennials and Gen Z have no faith in the party and believe its brand is out of touch. This is why I think the report discovered that millennials who favour Rishi Sunak might not necessarily vote for his party.
The Tory party is larger than Rishi’s brand, so perhaps part of the solution would be to build a future leader’s brand that is entirely separate or isolated from the party brand.

Delivery is key

After listening to some policy proposals from Bim Afolami, I thought to myself, “Nope, you’re delivering it wrong, Bim.” Within 30 seconds of speaking about a proposal, he will lose the attention of many millennials and most Gen Zers. Bim’s policy proposals are logical and sellable; the issue is that they are too complicated
to convey to millennials and Gen Z.
As the old saying goes, “Keep it short, keep it sweet, and keep it simple.”


Millennials and Gen Zers do not read newspapers, long website articles, or dissect reports, nor do they care about the credibility of professors or so-called experts. These generations crave influencers, funny social media accounts, slogans, memes, clips, satire, parody, and shi*posting. Sociables Express understands the power of the ‘Memification of Politics,’ and fortunately for us, entities are slowly starting to recognise this.

If conservatives want millennials and Gen Z to engage with conservative policies, they need to simplify them and deliver them in alternative formats. The delivery vehicle for this should be influencers and boutique brands across social media
because they have millennials and Gen Z as their audiences. Unlike Trump, DeSantis, and Biden, British conservatives have yet to grasp the power of social media influencers and boutique brands. Many of these brands and influencers are
producing ratings that TV barons would walk 5,000 miles for, and they are amassing cult followings that would impress the Church.

Millennials and Gen Z are highly creative and imaginative, so creativity will play a significant role in future political campaigns.

At some point, future elections will be decided by decentralised groups of social media influencers and boutique brands. Essentially, politicians are slaves to public opinion, and they will soon realise that there is a large audience that doesn’t consume tabloids, TV, and radio, an audience that will determine our future. When they do realise the necessity to win over millennials, in order or achieve this, politicians will manoeuvre towards winning over influencers and small brands.

Trump, DeSantis, and Biden are all getting in bed with influencers and boutique brands.

Summary

The Onward ‘Missing Millennials’ report hits the mark, but it’s surprising that Onward and others are only now recognising this. We’ve identified it as part of a larger issue Sociables Express calls ‘A Crisis in British Conservatism’. Having read Onward’s tabloid articles and watched their YouTube show, I believe both Bim and Onward are focusing on the wrong solution: Policy. They believe that
policies alone will be the key to winning millennial voters.

However, policies are just one-third of the solution. In my view, a future Conservative Party leader who can win millennial and Gen Z votes should consist of three key components: branding, delivery, and policies. Each of these segments should carry equal weight. Don’t look at a future party leader as a person; they are a product and a brand.

What is required is a modern brand tailored to millennials and Gen Z, delivered in a simple tone they desire, and through influential figures they admire, combined with a basket of policies that meet their needs. This is the formula to the solution. Winning their hearts and minds all at once is the way to capture the support of millennials and even Gen Z.

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