It’s no exaggeration to say that Millennials are, quite literally, everywhere. At a whopping 75.4 million strong and counting, they’ve already edged out Boomers as the United States’ largest living generation. Now they’ve now caught up to—and are ready to pass—their parents at the polling station.
But Millennials don’t just carry voting clout—they wield marketing clout as well, and they know it. Their roughly 600 billion dollars in annual buying power makes them a force to be reckoned with, for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce entities. They eschew traditional advertising, are supremely skilled at sniffing out spin, make buying decisions based on word of mouth social influence, and see authenticity as a deal breaker, connecting better with people than brands or logos.
But probably the biggest generational shift that Millennials have brought to the table when it comes to marketing is loyalty. They are a generation so loyal they have literally changed the face of marketing.
What’s Up With All This Loyalty and Why Should You Care?
We already know that Millennials were born with technology and expect to have access to, and use, technology and digital devices in almost every aspect of their daily lives. This shouldn’t be a surprise. But, the results from two recent studies on Millennial consumer trends did show something surprising: Over half of their Millennial respondents said they are “extremely loyal or quite loyal to their favorite brands.”
At a quarter of the American population, with 600 billion dollars of annual buying power—and 50 percent of that group say they are extremely loyal to their favorite brands—it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you want to start snagging some of those consumers.
How to Approach the Loyal Millennial
We talked a bit above about how this generation is super savvy, super social, and highly attuned to anything that feels fake or—heaven forbid—slightly spammy. Your marketing strategy needs to focus on those key positive traits.
Social influence (social proof, if you will) matters, but not in the way you might think. For Millennials, it’s less about “super stars” and more about genuine experience. Source influencers who have built their communities naturally, over time, by nurturing their audience and gaining their trust through authentic online sharing. Consider hyper-local influencers with a passionate, deeply engaged (yet potentially smaller), fan base, over a star-type who is thinking only about publicity.
The word authentic has been mentioned often in this article, and there’s a reason: It’s vitally important. Millennials expect transparency, honesty, and authenticity when it comes to which company they are going to throw their money behind. One-on-one engagement on social media tops any type of pre-programmed, generic promotional messaging. Delivering quality, human experiences to the consumer, whether at events or when providing customer service support (especially when providing customer service support!) will help build trust in your brand, and drive “word of mouth Millennials” to share these brand interactions with their communities.
Consider “giving back,” whether to your community or through charitable donations. A poll conducted by Morning Consult for Fortune Magazine found that Millennials “Were more likely than older respondents to say they would buy products from a company that gives to charity or to recommend that business to a friend.” Millennials are a very giving generation, and they appreciate the same in the organizations they support.
Another quick, yet important point before we wrap this one up. While many Millennials still gravitate somewhat toward the comfortable and familiar brands that Mom and Dad always bought, as they age, that parental influence begins to fade. So you still have time to pivot. Start implementing some of what we talked about above into your corporate policies and marketing strategies. Because Millennials are aging. And there’s a whole lot of brand loyalty out there that will only be snapped up by the best of the best.