What Happened to Brand Loyalty?

 Monty Wyne

Say you’re an established brand with a loyal following. You decide you want to grow your brand. It’s time you reached a younger audience. Most of your current customers are in their mid 50s to late 60s, i.e. the Boomers. So, you embark on a marketing effort to reach Millennials. STOP!

Over 50% of Millennials have no preference between private label (store/generic brands) or national brands, according to a recent study.* Many only care about the product, not the brand. This preference is a distinct contrast to their baby boom parents who had fewer choices and a limited number of advertising channels.

For Millennials it’s a different consumption of media, influencing a different consumption of products. This shift has opened the door to new entrants. Brandless, a startup, is marketing unbranded goods for $3 each. Millennials also lack a preference for established brands when it comes to other categories, like travel, insurance and fashion.

This trend has forced established brands to totally rethink their marketing efforts. Claims like authenticity, transparency, and sustainability, plus peer preference and review Sites, like Buzzfeed, carry the day. In short, private label has gone mainstream.

So, what are you going to do about it?

Millennials want to be involved. They want to be part of the conversation, contribute to it. Crayola has asked consumers to vote on a new color. Tailor your experience to this generation’s specific needs. If you’re a retailer, let this audience control the playlist or lighting. Also, crowdsourcing a product decision can encourage engagement, giving this group ownership.

Create a personal connection with your brand. Perrier created a pop-up shop, or temporary retail space, in New York’s SoHo. This unique space gave customers the chance to create their own tote bags and mix their own drinks. If members of this audience have interacted with your brand, they’re more likely to choose it when shopping.

Reach them through different channels. Make sure digital advertising opportunities are in your media mix. Look for endorsements from influencers. (See our blog post Aug. 2017 “Give Your Influencer Marketing Campaign, Greater Influence.”) If you're a laundry detergent that’s lost its newcomer star appeal, why not pair up with a new sustainable ecommerce brand? Collaborate with them on a novel marketing idea.

Finally, try product sourcing. Begin thinking about new products in your development and production cycle as early as possible. Start thinking about and generating new product ideas that can be converted into commercially viable goods or services. Millennials are part of a maker culture. They care about how and where things are made. And be transparent in your marketing efforts. A Millennial buyer wants to know everything about your product before making a decision to purchase.

No doubt the marketplace is changing. And these changes are only the beginning. No Industry, brand, product or service is immune. That said, if you listen to your audience. If you let them control the marketing experience. If you change with a changing market place, chances are you’ll flourish in a market where consumers control the purchase cycle.

*Study by Cadent Consulting Group. 

(This article is an excerpt from Ad Age,  August 21, 2017)