NEW YORK: SOL REPUBLIC, the headphone brand, believes marketing based on "principles" will be crucial in winning over millennials – and help it prosper in a category that has become increasingly competitive.

"Principles are going to be what drives marketing," Seth Combs, the firm's co-founder/cmo, told delegates at Internet Week 2014. "You have to have some guiding some principles, and you have to have a belief system."

One primary contributor to this shift is the unique attitudes and preferences of millennials, a demographic that is the main target audience for SOL REPUBLIC – especially as 53% own at least three pairs of headphones.

"We're in an incredible day and age, because people care about brands in different ways now," said Combs. "The millennial generation is the first generation that is not inheriting their parents' brands." (For more, including more tips on attracting millennials, read Warc's exclusive report: SOL REPUBLIC builds a headphone brand with a purpose.)

Not only do members of this cohort actively recommend products they care about, but they will be vocally critical of those not meeting their approval.

"It's not even: 'I don't want to inherit your brand.' It's: 'You're choosing the wrong brand, and this is what's right and this is what's next'," Combs said.

Marketers looking to tap into the passions and beliefs of this customer base must re-imagine the role of brands, he added, and ask themselves a simple question with profound consequences: namely, "What do I believe in?"

"And in order to actually make that work for you – in order to foster that brand identity – you've got to start thinking differently; you've got to starting thinking with different principles," Combs said.

SOL REPUBLIC has embodied its own mission in a corporate philosophy that stretches to more than 150 words, and is centred upon the notion of "changing the world … one listener at a time."

"We're crazy enough to believe we can change the world one listener at a time because we know a couple of things. We know that if music sounds better, it feels betters. And we also know this: there are only two universal languages: mathematics and music," said Combs.

"So if we can get our headphones in the hands of music fans all around the world, we can change the world one listener at a time."

Data sourced from Warc