Millennials can be demanding – they want variety, they want value for money, and they want everything to be available to them at the touch of a button – and quickly. Their demands are being met – from fast-fashion retailers delivering clothes to their doorstep the next day to Netflix and Amazon Prime providing hundreds of films and TV shows anywhere, at any time, on a variety of devices.
For some generations, this array of choice can seem bewildering – off-putting even. For millennials, it’s expected. The millennial generation is forcing brands to adapt to an entirely new consumer model in which traditional customer loyalty seems to count for much less than it used to. A study by Daymon Worldwide found that just 29 per cent of Millennials usually purchase from the same brand.
As a result, business leaders are recognising the competitive advantage of superior customer experience and the value that resides not only in what a company delivers for its customers, but in how it delivers products and services. Where brands once could differentiate themselves by product or efficiency, distinctiveness today lies in creating a seamless, multi-channel customer experience.
However, as brands harvest consumer data to predict their needs and buying patterns, data privacy watchdogs are pushing organisations to re-evaluate how they obtain customer insight – levying hefty fines for non-compliance. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), non-compliance can cost businesses a maximum fine of 4 per cent of global annual turnover – up to a staggering 20 million Euros.
Here are four tips for companies to master the art of gaining millennial brand loyalty, whilst ensuring regulatory compliance and customer consent:
- Be transparent with your customers
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of security breaches in retail, and conscious about how their personal data is being used, and if it’s to their benefit. According to research, 79% of UK shoppers say they consider cyber security as a top criterion when selecting retailers, with more than 68% willing to shop more with retailers that are transparent about how they use personal and financial data.
Brands must work with their customers to build trust and openness about how personal data is used. This means building a single view of an individual across their customer journey– to better allow an individual to take control of their data, and for organisations to respect rights and consents of data subjects. Building trust through transparency is the first step in garnering loyalty from millennial customers.
- Take a scaled approach to communication
Marketers see today’s consumers as web-savvy, mobile-enabled data sifters who pounce on whichever brand or store offers the best deal. In response to the vanishing brand loyalty, companies have ramped up their messaging, expecting that the more interaction and information they provide, the better the chances of holding on to these increasingly distracted and disloyal customers. But for many consumers, the rising volume of marketing messages isn’t empowering — it’s overwhelming. Rather than pulling customers into the fold, marketers are pushing them away with relentless and ill-conceived efforts to engage.
However, the answer to this doesn’t simply lie in the ‘unsubscribe’ button. Often, wary customers rush to block all communications from the brands, in turn also blocking out offers that may be of interest to them. The frequency and type of communication, as well as the preferred channel of engagement, should be left to the customer. Through a series of quick feedback loops, customers should be able to choose how often companies reach out to them and what kind of offers they would like to hear more about – helping companies find the right balance between engagement and harassment.
Millennials also spend a large chunk of their day on social media – engaging in conversations, building their profile and making purchases. As a result, brands are also relying on various social channels to effectively reach their audiences. Ten years ago, brands thought of social media as little more than a content distribution channel, but today, social media platforms are the most sophisticated ad delivery networks in existence. The key to driving successful customer engagement is to understand the customer journey on these platforms, and the various touchpoints and influences that impact not only a millennial’s purchasing decision but also their affinity towards a brand. This can then inform a brands communication pattern and frequency – honing a seamless brand identity across these platforms.
- Keep things simple
The single biggest driver of customer stickiness – or the propensity of customers to repeatedly buy or recommend a product – is decision simplicity. This is the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. What consumers want from marketers is, simply, simplicity. For marketeers, this means ensuring all messages sent to consumers make it easy for them to navigate information about a brand, aim to build trust in the information they receive and allow them to evaluate the options available to them.
At the same time, it is also important for companies to ensure brand consistency across all channels of customer engagement. According to the LucidPress study, the average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 23%. Inconsistency means firms are not maximising the value of marketing – not benefiting from the synergy created by delivering high quality at every touchpoint and missing out on the opportunity to reinforce your brand.
At the most basic level, if the website doesn’t ‘feel’ the same as an advert, the customer doesn’t get that immediate recognition that they’re in the right place, which makes them less likely to convert. And science backs this up – academic studies have found that colour increases brand recognition by up to 80%, for example.
- Give something back
Millennials are more likely than Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers to buy products from a company that gives something back to society. As well as ensuring charitable donations and social work are part of a brands corporate strategy, marketeers should leverage these efforts for customer engagement across digital platforms. The first step to this is finding out what a company’s target audience cares about, and then generating support for these causes through social and digital engagement. “Like our page and we’ll plant a tree” is one increasingly employed by companies. This enables customers to relate to certain brands on a personal level, and the alignment of values then leads to the cultivation of brand loyalty.
These four tips can serve as a starting point for brands to cut through the noise and gain the ever-elusive trust and loyalty of millennials. While market researchers and cultural commentators have pegged millennials as ‘unpredictable’ and ‘inconsistent’, this is simply untrue. What they want from brands is clear — they want consistent and engaging communication that transcend the transaction, genuine customer experiences and the re-assurance that their sensitive data is being stored properly.
Credit: Kimberley Dizes, Digital Marketing Manager, EngageHub.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.