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Millennial & Gen Z Brand Loyalty: Strategy for Brands

April 22nd, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler   ||    No Comments

Seeking millennial and Gen Z brand loyalty (and dollars)? Let’s take a short quiz to figure out how that’s going for you:

  • Was your brand founded a long, long time ago when washing machines were newfangled contraptions?
  • Are you a pharmaceutical company or even a pasta sauce purveyor with a celebrity mascot?
  • Does your brand depend on people doing old-fashioned stuff like driving cars or smoking cigarettes?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you probably already know that you’re in danger of not doing well with these two coveted generations. As their buying power grows, so does your need to remain relevant and reach these buyers.

How Brands Are Faring

While category stalwarts have long been the names to watch, there is increasing competition for these generations’ attention and loyalty from “younger” brands. As dollars move from boomers’ wallets into Gen Z’s, what kind of differences are we seeing?

A study featured in Fast Company illustrated the widening affinity gap between boomers and younger generations. Measuring sample audiences’ ability to identify brand purpose, alignment with their own values, and motivation to purchase, agency Enso scored brands and found notable discrepancies. One victim? Newman’s Own, with its likable, smiling Paul Newman mascot, ranked seventh with boomers and 81st with millennials.

Other notable examples were Pfizer and Samsung, while brands like Spotify, Starbucks, and Always fared well.

The Secret Sauce: Purpose

Every day there seems to be a new brand exclusively built for younger generations, from shaving start-ups to deodorant disruptors. These brands seem to effortlessly target and engage millennials, win Gen Z brand loyalty, and grow exponentially overnight. How do they do it?

Millennials and Gen Z buyers are seeking authenticity, diversity, transparency, and purpose. Ryan Jenkins, an expert on these groups, shared that their motivation is rooted in meaning, from what they buy to where they work.

Small brands are leaning into clear, explicit purpose to win over buyers. These brands are more likely to outgrow their categories than large brands, as Adweek noted, and they tap into younger buyers’ desire for authenticity.

Connecting Generationally

While veteran brands like Newman’s Own already have purpose, this may not be clear to new generations of buyers. This is why brands must understand their underlying motivations, craft effective messages, and, most importantly, get those messages in front of them. To win millennial and Gen Z brand loyalty, you need to connect them with your brand’s story.

And where are brands successfully doing that? TV: it’s still the best way to reach the most people. Forbes found Gen Z is not only watching TV, but is still watching it alongside their parents like teenagers decades ago. Consider one of the brands that fared well in Enso’s research, Always. Their connection to Gen Z and millennial buyers was forged through traditional media—from print to TV—with their “Like a Girl” campaign. By coupling purpose with a cause that matters and a medium to reach audiences far and wide, the P&G brand found valuable loyalty with these buyers.

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