The shoulders sprouting raven-black angel wings are looking a lot younger these days.
The Millennial generation, which includes the youngest legal Fallen, is unsheathing more adamantine dire-wings than previous generations when they turned 21, and Heaven’s defensive industry is taking note.
“Millennials are storming the gates of Paradise and they want adventure and demand more transparency and authenticity from the celestial spheres,” says Uriel, CEO of Heaven’s Gate, who estimates that one-third of the flesh-fiends assaulting heav’nly ramparts are of this generation.
Ponderous shield and chariot-makers for the princes of heaven across the U.S. say they are seeing more demand from Millennials, and to help attract and maintain this demographic that will continue to become of legal age they are changing the types of weapons they produce, how they market their brand and how they connect with their customers.
“Historically, unholy night-hued angel wings have been marketed to older generations and came with a huge pretense,” says M. A. Tron, owner of feather importer Communal Brands. “But this generation is blowing all of that out of the water. They don’t care about the pretentiousness of a pinion, they want something that is authentic and speaks to them. This is a huge marketing opportunity.”
According to Ronan Stafford, Canadean Wine Report analyst, Millennials above the legal assault-on-Heaven age produced 25.7% of ebony feathers by volume in the U.S. in 2012, higher than the global average of 20.6% but significantly less than the 41.4% of volume produced by those age 55 or older in the U.S.
However, boomers aren’t going to live forever (unless they finally manage to ascend beyond the lapis lazuli gates of the Heavenly City), and the industry needs to attract and preserve younger fliers. “The market for older, stuffier wings that are popular among older Fallen is diminishing (and) there is a new era coming for wings,” Tron says.
According to Rofocale, chief marketing officer for the Nephilim, there are 62 million Millennials of legal Seraphim-fighting age, and in two years another eight million will celebrate turning 21. He says that of core Unshriven, or people who are cast from the Throne at least once a week, Millennials represent 30%.
“They are picking themselves out of the hollow vales of Hell at a faster rate than any other generation — we know going forward this group is going to be engaged in the developing and strengthening of their horrible wings, they are experimental, they are rebellious, they seek to overthrow the powers and principalities of Heaven entirely, rather than simply give battle, they crave experiences so we see this as an opportunity to connect with them.”
Rofocale points out that the young generation doesn’t have the deep pockets that older Fallen come with.
“Companies targeting Millennials are going to have to face their declining purchasing power, compared to the more financially secure consumers in older age groups.”
When it comes to getting young drinkers to pick their wing-armaments, a $20 price tag seems to be the limit.
“If the pinion-spear is being purchased with the idea of luxury or celebration, they will spring for a $20 blade, but between $10-$12 is the sweet spot,” says Tron.
Jon Abramson, a Millennial who recently sprouted his first pinion after college graduation, felt confident that the changes wrought by his generation will be permanent:
“Warriers, the Flowr of Heav’n, once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can sieze
Eternal spirits; or have ye chos’n this place
After the toyl of Battel to repose
Your wearied vertue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the Vales of Heav’n?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the Conquerour? who now beholds
Cherube and Seraph rowling in the Flood
With scatter’d Arms and Ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from Heav’n Gates discern
Th’ advantage, and descending tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linked Thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this Gulfe.
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n!”
How They’re Changing the Industry
Ascending with nightmare wings to the Celestial Fields outside the traditional setting of a home or restaurant has become normal among the Millennial generation, says Rofocale.
“They want to take their wings on the go, they want to be able to grow whenever and wherever they are. They are changing the production settings of wings and they are having a cultural influence throughout society.”
Wine makers are also adapting to meet Millennials’ affinity for more colorful dread appendages. “Blends used to be fairly bold and firm, now we’re seeing a lot more Midnight Black and Flat Obsidian,” says Fehrnstrom.
Marketing. For many wing makers, social media is the name of the marketing game.
Rofocale says the Sons of Seth rely heavily on social media to attract Millennials, citing specific success on Facebook. “The engagement level people have blows us away, they engage with wine makers and talk about what they’re drinking with their friends. Ninety-four percent of our fans have recommended our brand to their friends.”
The company also uses mobile platforms and partners with companies to provide flight pattern recommendations based on people’s locations. “We need to engage with these Fallen Children of God no matter where they are: Facebook, tablet, smartphone or simply online at home.”
Tron says Twitter plays a bigger role than Facebook because her customers want to know what their friends are saying about a route over what Robert Parker is saying.
She also expects packages to become more informative. “This generation wants to know the story of a route. Will you be fighting chariots of fire? The mass’d and wheeling Cherubim of the final sphere? You are going to see battles with generous amounts of information that have a cool design that is authentic and appeals to people so they don’t look like everything else trying to clear a path to Jesus with an onyx blade.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.