Five things to know about millennials

By Lynn Manternach / Guest Editorial

Millennials are taking over the world – seriously. According to the Pew Research Center, this year millennials are expected to unseat baby boomers as the largest living generation. Because of that, some consider millennials the most important brand audience in the last 100 years.

Millennials, also known as generation Y, are between 18-35 years of age. There are more than 80 million of them, and as a group, they spend $600 billion a year. They are gaining in earning potential, getting married and starting families. Those transitions, along with the fact that there are so darn many of them, make them consumers you really need to be thinking about.

Millennials are tech-savvy digital natives and value-focused. They entered college during the worst recession since the Great Depression, and left facing a bleak job market with massive amounts of student loan debt. They are the most racially and ethnically diverse American generation ever. And while millennials have been characterized as difficult to categorize and even harder to please, there are some consistent characteristics that are important to understand about them from a branding perspective.

Research firm Adroit Digital conducted a robust study to understand how millennials think about brands compared to their baby boomer parents, and how brands can gain their future loyalty. The study included more than 2,000 consumers in the United States, ranging from 18 to 33 years old. Here are five findings from Adroit’s research that you need to understand millennials and brand loyalty:

1. Millennials are brand loyal. In fact, 64 percent of millennials say they are at least as brand-loyal as their parents. Within that group, 24 percent say they are more brand-loyal than their parents. That means figuring out the specific ways your brand is relevant to the needs of millennial consumers has the potential to gain you life-long customers.

2. Social media is important, but it’s not everything. TV is the advertising medium that has the most influence over millennials, and social media is right behind it. Mobile and online – both display and video – landed comfortably in the middle when it comes to influence with millennials, while radio, billboards and magazines finished at the bottom. That said, there is strength in teamwork. Forty-five percent of millennials indicate that the combination of digital and traditional ad channels influence their brand decision-making as much or more than a stand-alone channel.

3. You need to be visible on mobile channels. Nearly 40 percent of millennials feel brands lacking a mobile advertising presence are undesirable and outdated. The expectation for visibility on mobile channels is likely to increase, so you won’t be able to ignore it for much longer. That’s the case regardless of the demographics you are targeting.

4. Having a quality product is not enough. The most important criteria millennials use to select a new brand for trial – reported by 62 percent of respondents – is value and/or price. That’s followed by recommendation by a friend at 55 percent, brand reputation at 47 percent, and quality in fourth place at 35 percent. This makes it clear how important it is to stay focused on the brand experience and other factors that connected to reputation and likelihood to recommend. If you don’t know what attributes are most closely connected to the likelihood of a customer recommending your brand, conduct customer research to find out.

5. Millennials want you to listen to them. Fifty-two percent of millennials want brands that are willing to change based on consumer opinion and feedback. Forty-four percent want to have an open dialogue with brands through social channels, and 38 percent want brands to be more about the consumer and less about the brand.



Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. ( in Cedar Rapids and Le Claire. Contact Lynn at