All too often the question arises whether there is such a thing as brand loyalty among millennials. According to a BridgeOver survey, 70 per cent of the generation Y respondents believe their peers are less brand loyal than Baby Boomers and Generation X.
Is this preconception accurate though, or do communication specialists need to rethink how brand loyalty is perceived?
Do millennials have brand loyalty?
Contradictory to the prevailing stigma, research has found that the generation born between 1980 and 2000 is highly loyal to brands.
"Our findings confirmed that millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and – despite popular belief – do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands," David Arabov, CEO Co-founder Elite Daily, pointed out.
84 per cent of millennials love it when brands cross over with celebrities.
Moreover, findings by the Buzz Marketing Group report 84 per cent of millennials love it when brands cross over with celebrities to try something new. This suggests that it's no longer enough to keep doing what has worked for the past decades and hope it will attract and retain the target market.
Knowing that it is indeed possible for generation Y to be loyal is one thing, but how can a communications specialist ensure they know how to inspire it for their company?
Buzz Marketing Group CEO and Founder Tina Wells commented on the organisation's findings on how the landscape has shifted.
"When it comes to loyalty, multicultural millennials give as much as they get. They know what they like, and aren't shy about sharing that information with their friends and contacts," she said.
Wells also pointed out that the younger generation knows what influence it holds and how important it is for brands to communicate inclusively as luxury goods are bought by millennials as much as by older demographics.
The drivers of loyalty
Inc. has a hypothesis that social proof encourage loyalty. Social proof is explained as the concept that humans are naturally drawn towards their immediate environment to make decisions.
Originally a uniquely analogue phenomenon, people are increasingly looking for online approval, inspiration and advice on purchases, including which brands to invest themselves in. Social media is therefore a key driver when it comes to growing loyalty and forming connections with consumers.
The target audience is able to communicate their opinions of a product with their networks in a relatively public manner. By extension, direct interactions with consumers on social platforms is another important factor in building a lasting relationship with the millennial generation, according to a number of studies.
Another key to building millennial loyalty is authenticity. With 43 per cent of millennials ranking originality and transparent opinion over statistics when consuming news, the need to build trusting relationships between an organisation and its consumers is essential – individuals connect with people, not logos.
As such, only 1 per cent of respondents indicated they were influenced by advertisements. The general consensus is that authenticity and personal connection trumps paid-for opinions.
In addition to an improved social media presence and connection, organisations are also required to give back to society in one way or another. Inc. states that 75 per cent of millennials report being fed up with corporate greed while a lot of people are still recovering from the financial crisis. Support for local communities is rated highly and seen as competitive advantage for businesses.
For communication specialists to successfully attract a loyal, millennial customer base, they have to build brands that are authentic, technologically accessible and socially conscious.
The job of experts in the field of brand loyalty is not getting any easier. Yet, understanding what drives a key market's behaviour may offer at least a little bit of guidance as to what needs to be focused on more.