We write about Millennials often on this blog, and for good reason: they're a giant, well-informed monster of a generation that has proven to be somewhat unpredictable. They're altering the way we brand, the way we sell, the way we work.
We specialize in discussions around brand engagement and loyalty. And keeping up with Millennials isn't just important - it's vital to the long term success of any brand.
Of course, that statement begs the question of whether Millennials possess any sort of capacity for a long term relationship with a brand.
Sure, you can spend a few million to trot out Drake or Kevin Durant for an ad, and get a boatload of sales. But that won't help you much in earning long term admiration.
The truth is Millennials are capable of brand loyalty - it just has to be earned over and over again.
Products of Their Environment
Spend some time with data about Millennials and you'll begin to see a few patterns emerge. (Our collection of millennial loyalty statistics is a good place to start.)
Like every generation before them, Millennial viewpoints and preferences have been shaped by their environment. For example, their desire to save money comes from spending all of their professional lives in a middling economy. Their awareness of marketing comes from consuming more media (and having more media options at their disposal) than any generation in history.
Those views are reflected in how and where they spend their money. The companies who receive their dollars en masse are changing all the time, but the ones who have maintained a strong presence among Millennials (to this point) seem to share a handful of common traits.
5 Traits of Brands Beloved by Millennials
To begin a relationship with Millennials, a brand would be advised to take on as many of these characteristics as possible.
- Have a heart. Millennials have been made all too aware of the issues facing their communities. They've responded in part by being picky with their dollars. That's benefited brands such as Target and Whole Foods, who both have strong ties to non-profits and community/global initiatives.
- Recognize their greatness. Red Bull has built their brand on the idea that they're going to be along for the ride as people reach the unreachable pinnacles of life. Millennials are a generation of people who received trophies simply for showing up (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). They're special people, just as their parents told them (again, not a bad thing). Whether or not you think their greatness is up for debate, they don't.
- Take them seriously. Millennials like to think they're experts at product development. And most brands would be wise to hear them out. (Dell, which has had a great recent resurgence is a good example.) Utilizing customer feedback is important regardless of what generation is providing it, but Millennials in particular want you to hear their opinions on your brand and product development.
- Help them save. Walking into the worst recession in 80 years with $1.1 trillion in student loans debt will make even Richie Rich count pennies. That forced frugality is a major reason why brands like Walmart continue to shine for this demographic.
- Ditch the suit. Bottom line is the brands Millennials love have removed much of their corporate, focus group-tested sheen. Old Spice, a brand your grandparents probably loved, reinvented themselves with a goofy overtone. Nike practically reinvents their tactics every few years to keep up with what the youth of America is interested in. Taco Bell has a Twitter feed that spits fire and humor. Bottom line: these brands are cool, and they don’t feel like “suits and ties.” In other words, being relational (also known as being human) goes a long, long way with Millennials.
More to Come
With many Millennials only now reaching financial maturity (to a degree), new information about their generational preferences seems to emerge every day.
At this point it's pretty clear that brands who follow at least a portion of the characteristics above are winning with Millennials (#winning?). Those brands are reaping the benefits, such as social validation (a major brand selection criteria for Millennials).
Just as well, they're earning the opportunity to win them back every day - and for now, that's as close to loyalty as we'll probably get from the Millennial generation.