Studies show that millennials, more so than past generations, lack brand loyalty.
In the past, brand loyalty was based on product — and product alone. Today, media platforms have compelled companies to become more transparent to the public. As a result, consumers now make purchasing decisions not only based on the products and services being offered, but on the ethical values of the company or individual selling them. In addition, consumers have more options, and access to information about these options, than ever before.
According to a July 2016 Forbes article, “Consumers are not inclined to be loyal to brands as they once were because the underlying value of loyalty itself is no longer particularly relevant. … generational experiences have made sticking with ‘tried and true’ a sucker bet.”
New companies and better products come along every day. Millennials have access to countless options that claim to fit their needs as consumers. And in addition to the products themselves, today’s consumers have access to reviews, ratings, and testimonials about products that allow them to look before they leap.
Millennials, heavy users of the internet and social media, have proven more willing to make purchases based on recommendations or promotions from “friends,” “connections,” and other people they “know.”
Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards, Facebook pages, and other sources constantly promote new companies and products. Add pushes from social media influencers — people who try, rate, and review products, then share their experiences with followers — and millennials feel like they have all the information they need about a product or service, making them more likely to try it.
Santana Bozman, a 26-year-old public health and fitness figure, is more than willing to try new products, especially when someone she follows on social media has used the product.
“I take advice from the people I follow on social media,” she says. “I obviously base it off if they’ve done their research, but most of them have. If it’s something I’m looking for and somebody says they’ve used it, I’m going to give it a try. I’m not necessarily stuck on a brand, though. I’m willing to expand and try other things.”
When consumers have a need, they look for a product to fulfill that need.
But millennials have proven willing to try other products even when they’ve found a product that works for them. And that’s a new hurdle for brand loyalty. It’s not that it’s dead. It’s that the way companies are earning it is changing.
Brand Loyalty Isn’t Dead
Just as headlines scream that studies show brand loyalty is dead, studies also show brand loyalty isn’t dead quite yet.
Look at The Elephant Pants.
The Elephant Pants donates a portion of every sale to help create a sustainable future where elephants thrive.
This company sells “the most comfortable pants you’ve ever worn.” The style is popular right now, and this brand is doing well.
Could we find similar clothing somewhere else for cheaper? Absolutely. But it’s not the pants themselves that has millennials trumpeting this brand. It’s the social benefit.
By partnering with outside organizations, this company promises to donate a portion of sales to an organization that works to end the exploitation of elephants. To date, the company has donated more than $145,000.
Sure, the pants are comfortable. But as a millennial, I am more drawn to the values The Elephant Pants espouses. That’s got my loyalty … for now.