Meet the Millennial: Digital Trends and Authentic Brand Loyalty

Posted by: Becky Wu

The millennial demographic is the most in-touch generation so far. Being digitally-savvy from a young age, this group of over 80 million global citizens is leading the way when it comes to innovation, consumer trends, and what’s considered to be the newest and coolest things, from fashion to makeup to tech. When you’re more or less born and raised on the Internet, you happen to know a thing or two about how to communicate online, what you like and don’t like in marketing, and what you look for in a brand you’ll support.

That’s why marketing agencies ought to be looking to millennials – these vanguards of the latest trends – to be the ones to focus their message on. The marketing game has completely changed from even ten years ago; now, it’s all about the online world, apps, social media, who you know, and who you trust. Millennials are the new arbiters of cool, and it’s worth knowing a little more about them in order to better tailor your message.

Where they spend their time

These days, it’s not only the business people who are attached to their smartphones; now, you’re entirely likely to spot anyone between the ages of 12 to 32 with a mobile device in their hand almost constantly. This is how millennials communicate, using a wide variety of social media apps, messaging programs, and texting. And it’s not just handheld phones – according to our infographic, Mastering the Millennial, this demographic may spend 54 percent of their digital screen time on their smartphones, but they also spend 27 percent on their tablets and 18 percent on their computers. That’s a lot of digital ground to cover.

When it comes to the top places where millennials congregate online, the sands can shift from network to network (anybody remember Friendster?), but a few popular ones remain consistent. Gmail, Facebook, and Pinterest are the most favored platforms, with more media-focused platforms like Instagram and Snapchat quickly gaining momentum among millennials. Their generation also tends to be attracted toward short features that hold their attention (Vine’s six-second videos; Twitter’s 140-character limit).

As for e-commerce, a blog post at WISECHAPTER3 makes the point that millennials “…are avid researchers and want to be empowered. They are looking for the best information available to make decisions to improve their lives.” This could go a long way in explaining how thoroughly millennials research products online – as well as looking up product reviews and taking recommendations from favorite websites or bloggers – before making a purchase. They would prefer to trust their peers rather than what they see as faceless corporations.

What they look for in a brand

It goes without saying that, with an estimated population of 83.1 million, millennials are a powerful consumer force – Forbes notes that this generation represents a fourth of the population, and has $200 billion in “buying power.” As millennials continue to age, enter into the workforce, and gain higher career positions, they’ll only have more buying power and influence. They’re more plugged in than ever before, which can influence marketing a product or experience in two ways – it can either “go viral” (the Holy Grail of marketing) or simply become lost in the noise.

One marketing tactic that millennials definitely aren’t swayed by is traditional advertising – particularly commercials. More and more users of digital platforms are simply skipping ads before videos or installing ad-blocking programs in their web browsers. It can be difficult for ad agencies to find the sweet spot that appeals to millennials enough to grab their attention.

So, if they aren’t looking at your usual advertisements, how can you reach the millennials? Simply put: They want something real. They crave interaction – says Forbes, “62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to engage them.” For millennials, who may not have known a world without digital connectivity through social media, it’s absolutely important that they feel like they’re a part of something by engaging with the brands they like.

To that point, brands need to be authentic. For a brand to be transparent and down-to-earth about who they are and what they want to achieve is something that millennials are attracted to. If the demographic can see the real, human story behind a brand and its product, they’re much more likely to make a connection. Instead of just being another pop-up window to close, brands and products with authenticity are more likely to be proudly displayed by millennials, as a part of their lives.

Trying to determine what’s cool to millennials may be like catching lightning in a bottle, but with so much buying power behind them (as well as sheer populace), it’s definitely worth the time to get to know millennials, where they connect, and how they consume their chosen products and culture. If businesses can tap into their world and its digital trends, then they’re one step ahead of potentially outdated competition.

CLICK HERE to read more about digital marketing tactics to connect with millennials

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About Becky Wu

Senior Executive Vice President of Luth Research and your expert for digital tracking solutions. Becky joined Luth Research in 2001 and brings unique perspectives in a wide array of research practices, particularly in the areas...See Becky's full bio.