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4 Brands That Used The Tiny Trend For Big Impact

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

The tiny trend has become a marketing move as minimizing everything from food to homes has gained traction. We take a look at 4 brands that are thinking small in their campaigns…

Tiny homes, tiny food, tiny DIY, and even tiny weapons have made headlines in recent years. The trend took off around 2016 but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s still going strong. Tiny food originated in Japan, where tiny equals cute—and cute carries a lot of cultural weight (we are talking about Hello Kitty’s birthplace after all). Beyond the trend’s inherent cute factor, Vogue explains that “tiny food seems to tap into a nostalgia for the past, and an aspect of play that is most often largely forgotten during adulthood.” Today, the YouTube channel Miniature Space has over 2.2 million subscribers who watch videos of large hands very carefully creating tiny dishes and desserts. And the YouTube rabbit hole of tiny DIY projects takes users through tutorials for tiny slime, tiny beds, and more. In fact, one video, “Making Slime with Mini Balloons,” has racked up over 21 million views.

Then, of course, there’s the tiny home trend, which may have less to do with cuteness and more to do with Millennials’ penchant for minimalism. Downsizing spaces isn’t only environmentally friendly, but wallet friendly, for young people who will sacrifice space for aesthetics and affordability. Many companies are offering tiny vacation houses, like Getaway, which offers compact campgrounds full of “charcoal-gray box[es] on wheels.” Caravan in Portland and Austin’s Tiny Homes Hotel offer similar rentals for Millennials looking for price tags as small as their interiors. And let’s not forget the #vanlife movement, showing that living out of a van can actually be an Instagrammable dream. All in all, tiny abodes are making a big impact with young consumers.

Brands are getting inspired and tapping into the trend, from its more practical application of small scale home décor to the more extreme videos of lighting tiny ovens with matches to create cakes the size of fingernails. Below, we take a look at 4 major brands that have gone mini in their marketing:

1. KFC Mini Boxes

KFC is tapping into the tiny food trend, serving up mini meals at the world’s smallest KFC pop-up in Portland, reports Adweek. They shrunk down the $5 Fill Up Box to one-twelfth its original size, but don’t worry—they’re not charging $5. They’re giving them away for free. KFC’s Director of Advertising says the one-day-only pop-up (and its accompanying prep video) “is a sharable way to show how our famous Original Recipe fried chicken is prepared the hard (and mini) way.” The accompanying YouTube video shows the behind-the-scenes process of creating the fried chicken in a fully-outfitted doll-sized kitchen, complete with sinks, fryers, a stove, and even a mini trash can for any nearly invisible crumbs.

2. Starbucks’ Small Cafes

Starbucks is experimenting with some surprisingly small cafes inspired by the tiny house trend, according to Today. The new stores are small enough to fit on the back of a flatbed trailer, and 45 have been set up across the country so far. They let Starbucks test the areas’ love for the Millennial & Gen Z-favorite coffee brand before committing to a larger location, and a Starbucks rep explains that the self-contained stores can be set up in “sites not designed for traditional store locations.” For instance, when one location proved that people were interested in a more permanent latte-slinging location, Starbucks set up a full-sized café and shipped the small-scale version across town. Often made of reclaimed materials like shipping containers, the tiny brick-and-mortar stores have a small environmental footprint, too.

3. Tastemade & Bravo’s Tiny Top Chef

Tastemade teamed up with Bravo to have their popular Tiny Kitchen show recreate Top Chef finale dishes. The move was used to promote content that ran on a split screen alongside the short videos. Adweek explains that this is a format that many networks have experimented with; they’ve found that viewers are more likely to stick around through a commercial break, absorbing the content they want to watch and the sponsored message simultaneously. The silent demos showed life-sized hands creating complicated dishes like Manzo di Colorado beef ribeye and dashi spoonbread in the show’s signature micro kitchen over the span of three and a half minutes, giving the side-by-side commercials plenty of time to sink in.

4. Lowes’ Small Space Décor

Lowes wants to help Millennials decorate even their smallest spaces. In an Instagram stories campaign, decorators redesigned rooms that more aptly qualified as closets, fitting perfectly on a vertical screen. Adweek explains that the 34-second videos were broken into 64 steps, so users could quickly tap through to see the completed redesign, but also slow down the process as needed. The format allows for anyone who wants to attempt the project at home to go back to the steps they need for any elusive DIY tips. With a swipe, viewers can also access more detailed instructions. But Lowes isn’t the only home goods brand to hop on the tiny spaces bandwagon. Ikea also showed off how to convert small spaces into functioning, modern-looking rooms in a series of YouTube videos.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.