Millennials are loyal to brands that connect them to experiences.


With social media, subscription boxes and targeted advertisements following consumers on every web site they visit, it’s easy for shoppers to get distracted. Since most Millennials were born into the age of e-commerce, it’s easy to assume they’re susceptible to the intrigue created by the new brands and products constantly inundating their screens.

Despite the many brands constantly vying for their attention, Millennials see themselves as quite brand loyal. In fact, 64 percent say they’re more brand loyal or as brand loyal as their parents. So, if Millennials consider themselves brand loyal, but they’re also exposed to more brands on a daily basis than any other generation, how can retailers make sure they’re one of the brands Millennials keep coming back to?

While advertising might seem like a go-to strategy, it turns out the best way to reach Millennials may be to not advertise at all. A 2015 survey revealed only one percent of Millennials say they are influenced in any way by ads. But before you cut your marketing spend entirely, there are other ways to get in front of this audience — some far cheaper than traditional advertising. Considering this generation spends $600 billion per year — and return customers spend 120-plus percent more than new customers — you’ll want to be sure you’re reaching them time and time again. Keep in mind these best practices to effectively turn your Millennial shoppers into your biggest fans.

Create Experiences

With the popularity of Airbnb, Uber and other manifestations of a sharing economy propagated mostly by Millennials, it’s plain to see that this generation doesn’t feel a need to own things. As the value of ownership decreases, the importance of a brand experience is on the rise. Nearly 48 percent of Millennials feel more loyal to a brand that provides interesting experiences, compared to 35 percent of Gen X and only 17 percent of Baby Boomers. According to an Eventbrite survey, more than three-in-four Millennials (78 percent) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable. But what if you sell products? What if the thing you want Millennials to buy from you is not a vacation, concert or event?

Retailers who sell products and have garnered loyalty from this generation have done an incredible job of finding the intersection between the thing they are selling and the experience it represents. More than eight in 10 Millennials attended or participated in a live experience in the past year, including concerts, festivals and sporting events. Brands such as Flash Tattoos have gained a loyal Instagram following — 400,000 strong — by successfully positioning themselves as a must-have accessory for festivals, pool parties and beach vacations. So, whether it’s putting your brand’s hiking boots at the top of a mountain in an Instagram post or tweeting about how your tote bag is a must-have for weekend jet-setters, brands whose marketing strategies position their products as enhancements for experiences are the ones that will be best received by this generation.

Adopt-a-Cause

In 2013, 87 percent of Millennials donated to a nonprofit. Say what you will about this generation, but they have a penchant for do-goodery and want to support brands who do, too. Seventy-five percent of Millennials said it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. Retailers like Toms shoes and Warby Parker promise that for each product purchased — a pair of shoes and eyeglasses, respectively — an additional product is donated to a community in need.

While this isn’t a sustainable model for all retailers, there are other ways to demonstrate a social conscience. Hosting an event, creating a campaign or donating proceeds to a philanthropic cause are all ways you can promote your brand while gaining customers’ trust and loyalty. Find a beneficiary whose mission ties closely to the values your brand represents, and build a philanthropic relationship with them. This will show Millennial shoppers that your business goals extend far beyond profit to supporting a greater good.

Engage, Engage, Engage

Sixty-two percent of Millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. Engaging with Millennial customers in a personalized, authentic way is the key to a successful marketing strategy, but it’s no easy feat. The good news is, if you’re gathering data on your customers, it becomes much easier to engage with them on relevant topics. As Facebook chief marketing officer Gary Briggs said, “You know a lot about me. I’m liking things, I’m tweeting things. You should be able to put something relevant in front of me.”

Whether through targeted ads, personalized e-mail promotions or social media engagement, interactions with Millennial consumers can drive repeat purchases and elevate customer loyalty. Make sure you have a cohesive marketing strategy across your web site, e-mail campaigns and social media properties and are regularly collecting data about your customers’ interests from these sources. Use this data and these platforms to reengage and share new opportunities, offers and promotions that will keep your Millennial shoppers hooked and coming back for more.

Millennials are brand loyal, but they’re loyal to brands for reasons different from preceding generations. This tech-savvy, hyper-connected generation has plenty of choices when it comes to which brands they buy, but there are several actions retailers can take today to ensure they’re on the short list for repeat shopping. Learn what’s important to your Millennial customers and demonstrate this knowledge through experiences, community building and social media awareness. Earn your piece of the Millennial pie now, because they — and their dollars — will only gain more power in the coming years.

Thomas Marks is vice president of marketing at Stitch Labs.

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