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Millennials and brand loyalty

This article previously appeared in the Grand Rapids Business Journal on September 29, 2017.

Peanut butter. Jam. Bread.

Besides a craving for a sandwich, do you think of certain brands when you think of these products? Does Jif or Smuckers pop into your head? Companies invest millions into advertising, so their brand is top of mind at the time of a buying decision. They want you to be loyal to their brand, regardless of the cost of their product.

According to Forbes, brand loyalty is the tendency for customers to favor one brand, consistently, above its competitors for goods and services, even when new purchasing opportunities appear. Companies depend on brand loyalty or awareness to influence a consumer’s buying decision.

Enter the millennial generation. Brands = corporations = distrust. Simply put, millennials don’t give a hoot about your brand.

If you are hoping to resonate with the generation born after 1980, then you need to up your game before your competition does. It’s not impossible to build loyalty among this large population that has dollars to spend, but it does take a very strategic approach that may be different than tactics that have worked for you and your brand in the past.

Integrate the ideas below and watch your engagement soar:

User-generated content

Millennials want to hear from people their own age, authentically. They don’t care what the older generation thinks or recommends — they care what their peers say, do, wear and think. They can also tell when something is contrived to gain their attention. Find the right people who really love your products and work with them to share content that is honest and engaging.

3 stars or 4 stars, it matters

Millennials are avid readers of reviews and opinions. They want it real and unedited — and they want it online. Companies need to invest heavily in digital and market with the customer, not to them. What is your plan for addressing a negative review? Are you making it really easy for customers who love your products to share that with others? Strategy here makes all the difference. Entire brands have died, because people shared negative experiences.

Get creative

This is the selfie generation. They love to be seen and heard. Meet them where they are — social media (Snapchat, Instagram and more), mobile, online. You get the picture. Leverage the creativity of your team to create new and innovative ways to share your products and create real conversations.

To quote a recent Inc. article: “Millennials may not trust corporations, but they do trust each other. And they love to share.”

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