Glenn Humble, Marketing Director at Adroit Digital on Finding Brand Loyalty Among Millennials

GlennHumble Glenn Humble is currently the Marketing and Communications Director at Adroit Digital, a digital marketing firm that drives performance across channels through a combination of advanced audience technology and knowledgeable industry experts. The Makegood recently spoke with Humble about a study regarding brand loyalty among millennials.

The Makegood: After conducting a study on 2,000 U.S. Millennials, Adroit Digital found that consumers between the ages of 18 and 33 are more likely to be brand-loyal than their parents. Why do you believe this to be the case?

I believe Millennials view brand loyalty in a different frame of reference than their parents. For Baby Boomers and Gen X, brand loyalty meant being in it for the long haul. For Millennials, I think it’s strong brand loyalty to their brand of choice at the moment. When asked why they switch brands, many indicated something better came along. In their lifetimes, product innovation and product line has been wide reaching. When I was a kid, detergent options included Tide, Cheer and Gain, in maybe two different size boxes. Now there must be 20 varieties of each. There are millions of apps in the app stores. Facebook has lost favor to Tumblr. This generation’s loyalty is evolutionary; not set in stone. In addition to product innovation and product line extension, a brand’s ability to advertise at scale is at an all time high. In terms of this generation, there is a great fear of missing out (FOMO). This general attitude does not bode well for long-term loyalty.

The Makegood: How has social media and social media advertising made millennials feel a greater sense of brand loyalty? What level of power does social media, social media advertising, and mobile media hold over millennials’ purchases?

Social and mobile are inextricably linked. The vast majority of social content is consumed via mobile device. Brands now have the ability to be present for every moment in the daily life of consumers. They are able to go beyond traditional offers and offer interactive elements. Consumers can now participate in a brand instead of simply experiencing it externally. Social/Mobile allows brands to become a part of consumers every day moments.

The Makegood: How are the millennials differing from their parents in terms of loyalty and selection criteria?

For my generation and those before me, the drivers of loyalty were a quality product that performed and was delivered at a good price point. Millennials look at things beyond the product’s quality. They look at things like green practices, fair labor and trade, responsible and ethical business practices that are pro-consumer and less pro-brand. Because of digital distribution of content, a misstep by a brand is felt instantly across its user base. If you spill oil in the ocean and don’t react swiftly the public backlash is immediate and widespread. However, I do think Millennials are more prone to forgiveness. If a brand is found to have bad business practices and they clean up their act, they get redemption points. It’s far less black and white than it is with prior generations.

The Makegood: How is a brand’s reputation more important now than several years ago?

As referenced above, reputation is very important. In the past, there were public relations and, if things got really bad, damage control agencies. Now there are brand reputation firms. In the past, manufacturers shielded and protected their brands. Today, they need to grow and nurture them; from product launch to growing not only into a respected brand, but a responsible one.

The Makegood: Moving forward, what should brands and advertisers be doing to remain relevant to millennials? What sort of relationship do brands need to have with millennials?

Moving forward brands need to partner with their consumers. They need to maintain open dialogue with them and be prepared to make changes based on consumer feedback. Email, and more importantly social, provide a channel for that conversation to occur; social being in near real-time. If a consumer emails a brand, writes a letter or makes a call, they’re probably prepared to wait a few days for resolution. With social it becomes more immediate. This works for both positive and negative feedback. Brands need to be constantly testing to keep their fingers on the pulse of today. What works today may not work six months from now. This points to the studies’ reference to brands having to work harder to earn Millennials’ loyalty as opposed to their parents. They must be innovative and agile to stay ahead of the game and remain relevant.

The Makegood: Thank you, Glenn.