Yes, Millennials are different from Baby Boomers and from Generation X individuals.
One of the very interesting ways in which these cohorts differ has to do with brand loyalty.
Some say that Millennials are not brand loyal. This is wrong. It is just different. It just needs to be nurtured differently. This is especially true regarding Millennial attitudes regarding technology. The differences are so stark that those businesses selling technology services to companies will need to change how they sell and what they offer.
The Wall Street Journal reports Pew Research Center data showing that by the end of 2016, there were more Millennials in the workforce than there were Generation X workers. It is not a small margin. The 2016 numbers show 58.1 million Millennials in the workforce relative to 52.9 million Generation X workers.
Growing up with technology, it is not a surprise that the IT department of companies is one of the youngest departments in terms of age. The Wall Street Journal cites a study by Korn Ferry, an HR consulting firm, indicating that at the executive level, CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are the youngest group.
Even though this study is about IT buyers by generational cohort, the study is an insight into how to build loyalty with Millennials. Relative to Baby Boomers, Millennials are more serious about working with partners who can help foster confidence about building long-term relationships. Baby Boomers care less than Millennials about the relationship, caring more about the detailed product specifications and timely solutions. Millennials look for the combination of detailed pricing information, a recognizable brand, and a personalized message. The gaps between Millennials and Generation X/Baby Boomers on these metrics are huge.
According to the report, where Millennials want detailed pricing, a known brand, and a personalized pitch, older buyers – Generation X and Boomers – “tend to focus on solving immediate issues and prefer to respond to pitches that addressed those needs.”
Many of the benefits Millennial IT workers look for in vendors are similar to Millennials’ non-workplace behaviors. Millennials shop online, using search engines and social media while their older counterparts are more comfortable with email and especially with picking up a phone to call.
Brand loyalty for Millennials appears to be driven by “creative marketing efforts – such as personalized messages.” Again, this is how they grew up. They used online services that were appealing because of easy-to-use apps and intuitive websites where personal profiles led to personalized offers and interesting, compelling promotions.
Of course, it is an extrapolation to move from Millennial IT workers and Millennials in general. But the idea of personalization, price, and brand as key drivers of long-term relationships is not far-fetched. Millennials want to be known by the well-known brand. They are less likely to be interested in a “cold” call basically because it is “cold” and not personal.
Personalization is a powerful force. And messages and promotions can be personalized for each of us. This is changing from being interesting to becoming an expectation. Technology, digitization, and interconnectedness create personalization that reflects our desires for recognition, status, uniqueness and respect. Brands that deliver personalized experiences are perceived to be more valued experiences.
What we learn from this new study is that for Millennials, personalization is a critical factor in building loyalty, whether in work-life or non-work-life. Millennials especially want experiences that acknowledge their individuality while being connected to recognizable brands, at the right price.
Larry Light, a global brand revitalization expert, is co-author with Joan Kiddon of Six Rules for Brand Revitalization. He also is the Chief Executive Officer of Arcature, a marketing consulting company that has advised a variety of marketers in packaged goods, technology, retail, hospitality, automotive, corporate and business-to-business, as well as not-for-profit organizations.
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