Why National Consumer Brands See Travel as a Solution to Driving Positive Change in the Market

Allison Schult - Principal, Mile Marker 630

Consumer behavior has been driving deep change in the market for top consumer brands and CPG (consumer product goods) giants. Ever since Millennials and GenZs started plugging in earbuds and zoning out, marketers have had to evolve. While traditional advertising methods haven’t resonated with either of these demographic groups (and for many, it doesn’t even reach them) they can be, however, heavily influenced by advertising if it’s done their way.

Scrambling to build loyalty from their customers and grow market share, national brands with enormous ad budgets and massive distribution channels are looking outside traditional mediums to form collaborative partnerships to reach and engage consumers who value the experiential purchase over buying stuff—their stuff!

Millennials comprise the world’s largest consumer group—set to surpass $1 trillion in spending power in less than a year. If you haven’t adapted to reach them in meaningful ways, you have serious mileage to make up.

There is power in numbers. 

Charles Darwin said, “It is the long history of humankind that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

Collaboration is key. Working with trusted brands and influencers who have a genuine affiliation with you is the most efficient step in making inroads with this complicated and progressive demographic. Combining resources, knowledge and ideas—this is what gets your brand down the road faster, what ignites others to follow, and what keeps them following.

Opportunities for growth are often outside the confines of industry verticals. Consider Millennial travel trends and it’s not difficult to see that the travel industry is the dynamic solution CPGs are seeking. Creating strategic partnerships among aligned brands to amplify a collective share of voice and wallet maximizes impact.

Skift recently reported that 78% of luxury brands plan to collaborate in 2020. Premium auto brands are partnering with luxury hotel brands to promote upscale road trips—think, extended test drive meets mini vacation. They’ve figured out that when you share your wallet, your brand attributes and your customers with compatible companies, you can create a synergistic consumer experience that goes way beyond selling a product—they’re making cherished memories that consumers may want to repeat on a regular basis.


To cross promote Pixar’s Toy Story 4 which follows Woodie and the gang on a road trip adventure (in theaters June 21), Disney developed collaborative partnerships with 14 consumer brands including Alaska Airlines, Best Western, Chrysler and Go RVing. Alaska Airlines has created themed planes featuring the film’s lead characters, and fans can follow the airline’s promotions on their Twitter and Facebook channels. Meanwhile, Best Western encourages families to vacation with the lodging giant and enjoy the summer blockbuster by rewarding loyalty members with a $20 BW gift card. Chevrolet’s integrated marketing has the gang celebrating in the perfect road-tripping vehicle— their family friendly Pacifica model. And finally, a themed RV provided by Go RVing is making promotional stops throughout the U.S. to promote the film and encourage families to build bonds on their own RV adventure. Learn more about how film inspires travel in my earlier blog entry.


Collaborate on your own level.

While these Toy Story 4 promotions might seem daunting and completely out of reach, national brands still find great value in scaled, regional partnerships that combine wallet, brand attributes and market share.

During my tenure as VP of Marketing at Visit Tucson, we participated in a break-out, far-forward, two-year (2016-2017) Visit Arizona campaign: Arizona Expedition. The program aligned a number of communities with national brands and celebrity influencers specializing in culinary, health and wellness, and outdoor—current megatrends in travel that also represent the best Arizona has to offer travelers. This video/story-driven campaign showcased celebrity influencers engaging in activities while using products that enhanced their experience—like professional baseball player Cody Ross using gear from Dick’s Sporting Goods during an excursion in Sedona’s Oak Creek Canyon. 


Not only did Visit Arizona leverage the Instagram influencers’ online following, the state tourism office also leveraged the assets of national brands (Lexus, Callaway and Samsung) along with major media channels (Bon AppetitConde Nast Traveler, Golf Digest, and The New Yorker). These cross-vertical collaborations provided Visit Tucson with exceptional video stories and generated more than 43 million print impressions and 29 million online impressions from our print media affiliates and 4 million social media impressions.

Visit Myrtle Beach has been in the victory lane in its ability to forge relationships with national brands. This DMO is focused on creating new marketing channels to effectively communicate and distribute their value proposition to grow tourism. National and regional brands deliver the results they seek. From big box retailers, partnered with CPG’s, there’s a different and innovative way to amplify exposure to new potential travelers. The current Summer of Fun program to drive excitement and interest for summer travel is the latest collaboration between Visit Myrtle Beach, Skippy’s, Sara Lee and Walmart.

Visit Myrtle Beach and Entenmann’s partnered to reward moms over Mother’s Day.


For many destination marketers, the challenge is knowing how to identify the right brand affiliates; then, how to connect with them; and finally, how to sell them on the partnership. That’s where Mile Marker 630 comes in.

At Mile Marker 630, we highlight relevant research that supports the proposition (including the challenging conditions within our industry that are driving the need to develop extraordinary solutions). We identify opportunities for destinations of all sizes to integrate with national brands and CPGs—underscoring the value it creates for generating new business across all market segments, including sports tourism and group sales. We multiply the exponential value of those collaborations through shared narratives, thus elevating the travel effects of tourism on our local and national economies.

I may not be a mathematician, but when it comes to formulating successful marketing partnerships, our formula is 1 + 1 + 1 equals much, much more than 3. Allow us to put our formula to work for you. To start a conversation, please contact me at Allison@MileMarker630.com.