We’ve talked quite a bit about emotional loyalty and purchasing loyalty, and how emotional loyalty is the pinnacle of the mountain. Which not only means it’s the most desired type of devotion, it means it’s the most difficult to obtain.
The problem is emotional loyalty is largely based on intangibles, or characteristics that are difficult to measure. It’s more about who the brand is versus the service or product. Which means it can’t be engineered, at least not without top-to-bottom organizational customer centricity.
No, you can't force emotional bonds through your product, but you can light candles and set the mood with every other aspect of your business.
Allow us to help with a few suggestions that might help you take your relationship with your customers to the next level.
We’ve compiled key characteristics for each of the three most active generations influencing the marketplace – Millennials (Gen Y), Gen X, and Baby Boomers - as well as ideas around how to take advantage of each characteristic. We find that approaching things from a generational perspective can help identify necessary traits. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in loyalty marketing, but if you look at this list of ideas you’ll see that there are recurring themes within each generation.
Today, we'd like to share the first generational breakdown: Millennials. They're highly educated and deeply in debt because of it, yet they're already worth $1.3 trillion in the marketplace. They're incredibly influential, yet also prone to influence from peers.
Successfully building relationships with them requires knowing them well. Consider these key traits your road map to their hearts.
What are Millennials? They're...
- Value-conscious – Being saddled with debt (they have three times the student debt of Gen X after graduating) and never truly experiencing a healthy economy, Millennials are expert penny pinchers. Offer them exclusive deals, or show them how your product can help their bottom line.
- Suckers for Personalization – 60% of Millennials are willing to share personal information, and 30% of those who wouldn’t might change their minds if it meant coupons or other incentives. They offer this information for a reason: custom, personalized content tailored to their needs. Use it in every communication sent out. Also: if you offer an in-store experience, get your team in the habit of using and learning first names. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way.
- Always On – Contrary to popular belief, Millennials aren’t slackers on the job; in fact they recognize more than any other generation that work/life balance is a myth, so they have the same expectations for work as they do their personal lives: fun, flexible and interpersonal. This means brands that can shift the mindset from “work” to “relax” – say through a happy hour gathering or even something they can involve their families in such as a corporate picnic – can earn special places in Millennial hearts. Also: Every piece of content you produce should be consumable on mobile.
- Willing to Contribute – Millennials want to have a say in the creation and development of the products and brands they use. Every brand should welcome customer-driven development (and there are major drawbacks to ignoring their pleas). Open every forum for feedback, and constantly solicit their ideas. Then take every opportunity to let them know how much they contributed.
- Eager to Influence – These digital natives are eager for peer approval and feedback, so they’ve opened their online lives to brands and their friends. This means brands should take every opportunity they can to encourage and empower sharing through social media. Allow them to go forth and brag to the world about their exclusive access to new items or personalized discount they earned from a loyalty program.
- Optimists - Despite the cruddy economy, the debt, and the lack of trust in authority, Millennials believe the best is yet to come for themselves and the country. Treat them as if they’re the wealthy world-changers they believe they can be when they grow up – ego-boosting positivity in every communication can appeal to this generation more than any other. Inspire them to picture themselves, fresh of some world-conquering, with your brand by their side.
- World Savers – Keeping with the theme of Millennials as world-changers, they expect businesses to have the same beliefs. Four out of five prefer to do business with companies that support the causes they care about. Most brands engage in some sort of charity or cause; they need to frequently remind Millennials that they do more than just take their money. (Conversely, they'll run from companies that engage in bad behavior.)
- Looking to be Rewarded – If there is one stereotype about Millennials that is turning out to be true, this is it. The idea that Millennials want trophies for everything is somewhat accurate, and it drives older generations nuts. But let’s face it, every generation has an interest in being rewarded for their loyalty. The desire for recognition is something we’re all a little guilty of. It why we crave loyalty programs – they’re a way of being rewarded for our purchases. Every business that’s interested in connecting with Millennials should have some sort of loyalty or incentive program.
As unique as this generation is, they have a lot in common with their parents, as you'll see. In the meantime, the key to their hearts is feeling like they have a one-on-one relationship with a brand. That means everything that comes from a personal relationship: respect, influence, rewards and dialog. Push that philosophy across your organization and you'll be sipping soy lattes and talking about the impeccable sound of The Strokes on vinyl with this group before you know it.