One of the largest differences between Millennials and the generations that came before them is that they are much less loyal. For example, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 50% of Millennials identify themselves as independents politically (though the majority tends to lean Democrat). That’s compared with 39% of Generation Xers and 32% of Baby Boomers who identify themselves as independents. According to the study, the same holds true for religion. Twenty-nine percent say that they have no religious affiliation.
So what does all this mean for brand marketers? It means they are going to have to work – harder. It isn’t enough to simply earn a Millennial’s attention at an early age and assume they will be locked in for life. If a young man born in 1988 bought his first Nike sneakers with his allowance money at 10 years old in 1998, it doesn’t mean that he will still be buying Nike products at age 25 here in 2014. In many ways, brand loyalty doesn’t exist among Generation Y, and that is why brands can’t just sit back and relax. They have to actively try to keep Millennials wanting more.
Trying to give Millennials something that they desire isn’t always the easiest thing to do. This generation has become notorious for the constant need to jump from medium to medium. However, there are a few basics that brands can exercise in hopes that they will keep Generation Y coming back.
Engage - Today’s marketing landscape offers so many different channels to push engaging content that it is almost inexcusable for any brand to neglect them. By creating a level of dialogue with Millennial consumers, it will give them the sense that their opinion matters to your brand. Make sure social media is always updated and that any mention of your brand in the online space is responded to, whether it is positive or negative.
Let Them See Themselves - Have you ever seen a child (or a puppy) catch a peek of themselves in a mirror? Think of the excitement it generates. Now apply that to Millennials. Video and photography are two easy ways to get Generation Y to interact with your brand. Take any opportunity available – whether it be for a contest, cause, or artistic purposes – to get Millennials in front of a camera. There is a reason why “selfie” was 2013’s “Word of the Year.”
Establish Your Position - Unless your brand is engaging in something truly immoral, it should be transparent in regards to what it stands for. Millennials have never been shy about making their beliefs heard (which can be attributed to their constant exposure to social media). If they can identify a brand that shares similar values to them, it gives greater reason to take an interest in and stay loyal to that brand.
Capturing Millennial attention will continue to be a challenge for brands moving forward. However, by concentrating on establishing loyalty, a feat not to be taken lightly in today’s marketing landscape, brands can create advocates that can last for a lifetime.