Millennials’ Plea to Brands: Authenticity, Not Advertising

“This generation doesn’t dislike brands. What they don’t like is advertising,” said Maker Studios’ chief content officer, Erin McPherson, at a recent IAB meeting.
McPherson is right, and it’s an important distinction.
Millennials continue to drive an evolution in marketing and advertising, as marketers are frequently hit with stats like these from a recent survey by The McCarthy Group:

  • On a scale of 1-5, millennials rank the trustworthiness of advertising and sales at a dismal 2.2
  • 84% of millennials say they don’t like advertising

So, what do millennials want from brands?
As the first generation to be so innately connected to the internet, millennials have a different (read: higher!) level of criteria and expectations they apply to brands.

Millennials have specific expectations for interaction with brands

Millennials aren’t alone — about 63% of consumers say they are highly annoyed with repeated, generic advertising messages — but as the first generation to be so innately connected to the internet, they have a different level of criteria and expectations they apply to brands.
A recent study by Annalect shows that:

  • 55% of millennials who own smartphones expect brands to have an app or mobile-friendly website
  • Before making a purchase, 52% consider the brands’ use of technology
  • 39% say they are loyal to brands whose use of technology is up-to-date
  • 47% report that social media has helped introduce them to new brands

The pressure is already on brands to keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing, and stats like these show that getting your digital act together is even more important for brands with a millennial target audience.

Millennials need to feel authenticity throughout the digital experience

It’s about more than the latest technology and hottest social network, though. It’s about authenticity. In other words, you can’t expect to create an account on Snapchat and instantly connect to the millennial generation. You have to work at building a relationship.
So what does authenticity look like in the millennial/brand relationship? A 2014 study by SDL gives some insight. Whether on the phone, in person, or online, millennials say that dealing with a company should feel consistent—in other words, the brand has established a true identity that runs through everything they do. Millennials also report that they like hearing from a brand when the communication is not about selling a product; they want to feel like brands are building a relationship with them as an individual, not just as a consumer.
[Tweet “Millennials need to feel authenticity throughout the digital experience. #millennials #marketing”]
Another way to create an authentic relationship between your brand and millennials? Establish a connection based on what you mutually value (remember: this can’t be faked). A 2014 Nielson report shows millennials care about:

  • Family: This generation cares deeply about being a good parent and caring for their own parents as they age.
  • Philanthropy: Despite a significant unemployment rate and low salaries, around 75% of millennials donated to a non-profit in 2011, and 57% spent time volunteering.
  • Society: Millennials appreciate it when brands have established programs that give back, and are often willing to spend more in order to make a purchase from such a company. They care about the impact a brand has on the world.
  • Environment: Millennials are often willing to pay more for a product if it is good for or supports the environment.
  • Community: Handcrafted, locally made goods and services are important to millennials. They like to feel the connection to the creator of a product, and they also appreciate that local goods are beneficial in other ways—more jobs and a reduced carbon footprint, for example.

Millennials Plea to Brands- Authenticity Not Advertising | Cursive Content Marketing

When you find a connection point, millennials are much more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Talk to them and with them, not at them. You can keep your upcoming ad campaign if you want to, but you might want to adjust the budget to allow for other means of communicating to millennials. The data provides great insight into the minds of millennials, but it’s up to marketers to use that data to build the authentic, long-lasting relationships that millennials want.
If reaching millennials is key to your brand’s success, don’t miss 4 Ways to Create Content That Connects With Millennials.

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