Marketers that are trying to connect with millennials ages 18 to 34 to promote products and services related to love and Valentine's Day might want to consider tapping social influencers who produce user-generated content (UGC). This generation trusts people rather than brands, and values the opinions of like-minded strangers as much as people they know, according to a new study scheduled for release Monday titled "Talking to Strangers."
Strangers appear to have the most influence when it comes to making a purchase. About 51% of millennials are more likely influenced by UGC produced and posted by strangers, compared with recommendations from friends, family and colleagues, but only 34% of boomers agree.
In fact, 84% of millennials report that UGC from strangers has some influence on what they buy. That's because 65% of millennials believe UGC offers a more honest and genuine view online, and 86% believe the content represents a good indicator of the quality of a brand, service or products.
Millennials question the motives of companies that collect customer opinions. The study finds 71% of millennials say companies care about customer opinions simply because they impact how other consumers will view the brand, rather than truly caring what their customers think.
Seventy-three percent of millennials believe other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do; that's why they continue to share their opinions online. They view companies that include customer feedback on their Web sites as honest, at 66%, and credible, at 53%.
Millennials won't complete top purchases without UGC -- big-ticket items like major electronics, 44%, and cars, 40%, as well as hotel stays, 39%, insurance policies, 30%, and travel to specific destinations, 32%.
The millennial generation relies heavily on input from social media. About 80% use Facebook; 49%, YouTube; 18%, Twitter; and 25%, Google+. This suggests they are more likely to share both positive and negative experiences with brands via social channels -- 42% and 32%, respectively -- than by emailing their friends or calling the company.
The "Talking to Strangers" Survey, released by Bazaarvoice in partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics and Kelton Research, aggregated findings from 1,013 participants ages 18 and over by Kelton Research between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, 2011.