One of the main reasons Millennials are often tagged as being harder to reach is because they don't display the same brand loyalty as generations that have come before them. But is that actually true - are Millennials less aligned to brands? And if so, what factors do they consider in their purchase process?
Facebook recently sought to answer this, surveying 14,700 adults in the US in order to analyze the state of brand loyalty across five specific sectors: Auto Insurance, Airlines, Hotels, Grocery and Restaurants.
Their research showed that 77% of people are considered brand loyal, returning to the same brands over and over again. Of these, 37% make repeat purchases and are loyal to a company - Facebook tagged this group as "Brand Loyalists" - while 40% make repeat purchases but are not necessarily 'loyal'. Facebook tagged this second category "Repeat Purchasers".
The research also uncovered a range of interesting patterns and data points worth considering when looking to reach these two distinct types of consumers - here are their key highlights.
1. 'Loyalty is rooted in emotion'
One of the key themes Facebook found in their research is that brand loyalty is fuelled by customer experience. As shown in the graphic below, among those who are considered 'Brand Loyalists', 'Service' and 'Trust' are the most commonly cited reasons which inspire that connection, while for Repeat Purchasers, 'Price' is noted as the main sticking point.
According to Facebook:
"This indicates that to achieve loyalty, brand relationships should be up-leveled to a more emotional and experiential standing."
There are obviously a range of data points to consider here - the factors behind how you choose an airline will be vastly different to how you go about choosing which groceries to buy, for example. However the key element of note is that if you want to turn those repeat purchasers into loyalists, the answer likely lies in improving the experience and delivering better customer service.
Now, that won't be true for everyone - for some, price will always be the sticking point. But loyalty's being driven by the quality of interaction, which then influences how much consumers trust that business. That, in turn, makes them more likely to come back again.
And the value of those loyalists is so important in the modern, connected era. These days, everyone has, on average, around 200 Facebook 'Friends' or people they're directly connected to. Even with Facebook's reach restrictions, that still means the average person is getting to around 30-50 people with every post - that, in turn, means the potential amplification of your message from every brand loyalist is ramped up by 30x if you can inspire them to comment or advocate on your behalf. Anytime someone in their network asks a question related to your products or services, that's another opportunity to amplify your message without paying for advertising. It's worth boosting that appeal where you can.
2. 'Millennials face unique barriers to loyalty'
A key consideration when trying to reach Millennial audiences is the life stage they're at and the social movements that impact their thinking. For example, Facebook found that Millennials are two times less likely to become loyal to a restaurant id there aren't enough healthy options on the menu.
Facebook also notes that:
"Millennials are less loyal in verticals where experience and price play a bigger factor, like Airlines and Hotels."
As the same time, Facebook says that Millennials do want to become brand loyalists - they're 1.75x more likely than Boomers to say they'd like to be brand-loyal - but sometimes challenges outside of their control influence their purchase decisions.
Some of these can be resolved by the relevant businesses, some can't. Worth considering in your messaging.
3. 'Price matters, but experience matters more'
This finding somewhat reiterates the first point, but it's worth underlining. Facebook's research team asked survey participants to describe the brands they love the most. They then split the terms used in those responses into groups under four categories: 'consistency', 'cost', 'quality' and 'experience'.
"By far the largest group of words was under experience. Perhaps people will always be willing to pay for the things that are memorable... whether that's because of the taste they can't get elsewhere or the family fun they'll remember forever."
The results here are no real surprise - you can see that 'Quality' is the most mentioned term overall, but those orange experiential words dominate the word cloud. Interesting also to note the words 'fun' and 'unique' in there.
These responses underline the importance of delivering better customer experiences and ensuring they know that your business is there for them when they need it.
4. 'Children change parents' relationship to brands'
Facebook found that new parents are more likely to be brand loyal, which likely reflects the importance of the familiar when dealing with kids.
As shown in the graphic, this is particularly prominent in hotels and airlines - that makes sense when you consider the additional challenges of dealing with kids while traveling.
As a parent, you know that even basic things, like the cleanliness of the play equipment, can play an increasingly important role in your decision making. Going with what you know - and what makes the kids happy - is often a safer route.
5. 'Frequent users of Facebook and Instagram are more likely to be loyal'
It's always a little hard to swallow findings like this in such surveys - 'oh wow, a survey conducted by Facebook found that people who use Facebook are better'.
Nevertheless, the final data point Facebook highlights is the fact that people who use Facebook more than five times a day are 1.25x more likely to be Brand Loyalists than people who use Facebook at least once a month. The same is true for Instagram (1.26x).
"This could be because frequent usage of the platform is related to the type of loyalty behaviors that translate to relationships with other categories and companies.'
Yeah, I don't know - maybe it has something to do with people being shown more targeted ads for those brands on Facebook and Instagram, or the fact that these people are also following those brands, which boost the connection through the content they publish on their Pages.
If you're going to take anything from that data point, it may suggest that having a presence on either or both platform/s and producing content that resonates with your audience can increase brand loyalty.
Overall, it's an interesting report which raises several considerations to keep in mind when building out your social media and social customer service strategies. In essence, the main findings likely reinforce what you already know - brand loyalty is relative to the customer experience and quality of your product. But at the same time, the specific details as to how this is achieved can help refine and re-focus your strategies on the right areas to boost your brand performance.
The full Facebook "Modern Loyalty: Love in a Time of Infinite Choice"" report is available here.