Companies trying to win over millennials and create brand loyalty have a challenging task at hand. This generation, born between 1977 and 2000 have a uniquely different outlook from the generations before them and operate on an entire different set of values and priorities. As a brand, if you don’t know how to speak their language and touch their hearts they will disregard you, that is, if they even noticed you at all in the first place. So why should companies care so much to cater to a generation that gets a bad rep for being entitled, unrealistically idealistic and A.D.D. ridden? To start, they have an annual buying power of $200 billion and have significant influence over older generations. They are highly educated, career-driven, and contrary to popular belief, they do develop brand loyalty and often become evangelists for the products and services they love. They are a generation of content producers and feel compelled (if not their duty) to share with the world what they are eating, wearing, loving (and hating) at that moment – all in real-time. So how does a company gain mindshare of this generation? If you are the CEO who still doesn’t buy into investing in social media because you cannot quantify the ROI, it’s time to get relevant. Millennials can be your greatest brand evangelist or your biggest social media nightmare. They are vocal about their experiences and will go straight to the masses to share what they love and hate.
“There is no longer a social media bandwagon, if you’re not driving this bus, you will be left behind.”
In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Virgin Mobile Canada revealed that 87% have used social media to share positive customer service experiences and 80% have used social media to share negative customer service experiences. The same study reveals that millennials are the most likely age group to prefer to connect with brands either online. It’s evident that even if you cannot see a direct sale resulting from social media, adapting social into the marketing matrix is no longer a nice to have – it’s a must. This generation doesn’t just expect good customer service, they demand it. Even though this generation is super tech-savvy, when it comes to customer service, they reject the idea of speaking to an automated machine. In fact, 70% of survey respondents said not being able to speak to an actual person was their biggest customer service turn-off according to Virgin Mobile Canada’s survey results.
“If Millennials are unhappy with your service they feel it’s their responsibility and duty to vent… publicly.”
To win over the hearts of this fickle generation, companies need to ensure they keep relevant. This applies to all aspects of the company. If your branding makes them feel like an outsider, they will not buy from you. You need to speak their language and make them feel like they belong. If you lack cool factor, they won’t notice you or, actively reject your brand. You must keep up with technology and social media which includes ensuring seamless usability of your website, being optimized for mobile and having a presence on the various social media platforms. In addition, this is a generation of content creators, they appreciate valuable and authentic content, they scan articles and love list format and most importantly, they connect to stories. Your brand must convey a compelling story and if the executives behind the company are spokespeople, they need to have a story that aligns with the overall brand. Think Richard Branson and Virgin, Steve Jobs and Apple, Tony Hsieh and Zappos. Regardless of age, in today’s world of infinite options and competing brands, customer service is a table-stake. Nearly all Canadians agree that customer service is important to them and 95% agreed that they’d take their business elsewhere if they were not getting good customer service. Brands need to step it up in order to maintain loyalty. Exciting brand activations, loyalty programs, a social media presence, live human customer support staff – these are all part of the essentials for gaining mindshare of the millennial generation.