by Dan Schawbelm. Forbes contributor
Companies are fiercely competing for millennial mindshare and it’s only the beginning. There are eighty million millennials in America alone and they represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power. They have a lot of influence over older generations and are trendsetters across all industries from fashion to food. Companies have been struggling connecting with this generation because many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention. Furthermore, many companies believe in certain myths about millennials that are just plain inaccurate, including that they aren’t brand loyal.
As a millennial myself, born in 1983, I know how we operate and with my peer network, I always confirm my own assumptions as well. In order to better understand this extremely important consumer, we partnered with Elite Daily, the voice of Generation Y, on a new comprehensive study released today. “Our findings confirmed that millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands,” says David Arabov, CEO Co-founder Elite Daily. Here are the top ten new findings that we gathered through this study, where we interviewed 1,300 millennials:
1. They aren’t influenced at all by advertising. Only 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic. That’s why they use Tivo to skip commercials regularly and avoid banner advertisements on Facebook and various news websites.
2. They would rather buy a car and lease a house. 71% of millennials would rather buy than rent a car, where as 59% would rather rent a house than buy one. 61% admit that they can’t afford a house. The economy has had a major impact on millennials, many of whom still live with their parents, have crushing student loan debt and are underemployed. Since they are getting married, having children and getting decent paying jobs later in life, they are putting off owning a home. A car is cheaper and they need one to get around even if they’re still in their parents basement.
3. They review blogs before making a purchase. 33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books. Older generations rely more on traditional media, whereas millennials look to social media for an authentic look at what’s going on in the world, especially content written by their peers whom they trust.
4. They value authenticity as more important than content. 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. They first have to trust a company or news site before they even bother reading the content that they produce. Blogs are meant to be authentic and many of them are run by a single individual. Millennials connect best with people over logos.
5. Their future inheritance won’t change their buying behavior. Despite the $30 billion inheritance that Accenture predicts will transfer from Baby Boomers to millennials in the upcoming years, 57% said that the money won’t change their spending habits. This is surprising because most people would think that this money exchange would make millennials spend even more yet our findings report that it won’t have an impact.
6. They want to engage with brands on social networks. 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. This obviously takes more labor from companies to be able to maintain social networking feeds, but it’s worth it if you want to reach millennials.
7. They want to co-create products with companies. 42% said they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. In our society, companies usually create products and hope that their target market will consume them. When it comes to millennials, they want to be more involved with how products get created. Companies that enable them to be part of the product development process will be more successful.
8. They are using multiple tech devices. 87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis. 39% are either very or completely likely to purchase a tablet computer in the next five years, while 30% are for wearable devices. When there’s new technology available, you can bet that millennials will be all over it! In order to keep your brand relevant, and appealing to millennials, you need to be able to engage them on new platforms as they are released. For instance, having an application on the iWatch could be a good long term investment.
9. They are brand loyal. 60% said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase. The sooner you build a relationship and deep connection with millennials, the better because they will continue to purchase from you as an adult.
10. They expect brands to give back to society. 75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. They are sick and tired of corporate greed and are still recovering in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Millennials love brands that support their local communities and would rather purchase from them than competitors.