10.09
 |  Longer reads

Millennials versus brands

I’m a Millennial.

I don’t like brands. 

And I’m not the only one. 

A minuscule 6.5% of millennials say they are loyal to brands. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we just don’t trust or relate to them all that much. Why is that?

Too many options

Even more so than previous generations, millennials are spoiled for choice. There’s a multitude of products and services to choose from and we’re not afraid to experiment and trial different options. 

Lack of time

Comparison shopping is just one thing eating away at millennials’ time. But not only are we time-poor, we’re also distracted – 95% are doing other things while shopping. Because of this, brands have to work even harder to win our attention in the first place.

Seeking meaning

Perhaps the most interesting idea about why millennials aren’t loyal to brands is that brands aren’t quite delivering what we’ve come to expect from them. Millennials are a disenchanted, sceptical, and activism-focused generation. 68% of millennials say that creating a change in the world is a personal goal they actively pursue, compared with 42% of baby boomers. In addition, 65% buy on the basis of their beliefs and 57% are buying or boycotting brands based on the brand’s position on a social or political issue. 

New brands like Patagonia (pictured), Lush and TOMS have profited off millenials’ idealistic outlooks

Many established brands are trying to bring ‘purpose’ to the forefront of their marketing and advertising in order to tap into the millennial mindset of ‘let’s change the world’. Nike’s new ad campaign is proof that big brands are taking a stance on political and social issues – but the #JustBurnIt backlash shows the inherent risks of this approach. It’s also hard to do well. Remember Pepsi’s poorly judged Kendall Jenner ad

So what can brands do?

Although each generation poses unique challenges to brands, millennials, like all consumers, are simply looking for two things – utility and emotional connection. We expect products and services to fill a functional need: feeding, clothing, transporting us and so on. But because so many products and services exist that do the same jobs, brands have to work incredibly hard to win us over.

Consumers’ habits have evolved. Technology fulfils so many of our basic needs so much faster than ever before that we have more time to turn our attention to other things. We’ve become more conscious and started to realise the true cost of our consumption habits on underprivileged workers, animals and the environment. We are expecting brands to demonstrate the same awareness. 

Loyalty will follow when brands start to address our newly formed emotional drivers – not through inauthentic campaigns, but by truly becoming purpose-driven.

Case studies