Contrary to popular belief, millennials, a demographic that spends an estimated $600 billion each year, are willing to be loyal to brands and in fact, even more interested in loyalty programs than previous generations. However, they won’t engage with brands in the same way that their parents did. They grew up at the same time that the digital world came of age and, as a result, millennials expect brands to engage with them the way they engage with the world: on-the-go and in real time. They want to be able to control and customize their experience, because the technology to do that has always existed for them.
That’s why brands that want millennial loyalty need to cultivate the qualities that appeal to these tech savvy shoppers—engagement, participation, and accessibility.
Here are three ways brands can win over millennials:
Engage the way they want to engage.
Brands that want the loyalty of a specific demographic should engage with them on their territory—for millennials, many brands assume that means only social media. However, social media can be tricky territory and especially in the context of nurturing loyalty. Our research consistently shows that many millennials still prefer to receive emails from companies, especially for loyalty offers and rewards—they use social media for connecting with their personal community. A brand message on social media can be unwelcome unless it addresses the causes and issues that are most important to them. But the brands that dutifully use only email will get a nasty surprise if they fail to monitor what’s trending about their brand on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. Social media is where millennials give feedback on whether they were able to redeem their loyalty reward and you need to respond in as near to real time as you possibly can.
Participation as well as purchase.
If a millennial posts a picture of herself wearing your product or tweets your coupon, she’s helping you with your marketing. And she knows it. Instead of rewarding only their purchases, brands should find ways to acknowledge and reward their advocacy as well. Some brands literally give members points for writing reviews or referring a friend. Don’t overlook the power of a simple personalized thank you.
Accessibility is essential.
As a digital-native generation, it’s no surprise that millennials expect ease of use. Brands should aim to provide customers with frictionless services and experiences. Loyalty program information and rewards must be easy to access and navigate. Brands can deliver convenience by taking an omnichannel approach—offering their customers real-time updates and instant rewards through any device, be it a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. Millennials also expect store associates to be able to add their loyalty ID to a purchase without having to show a plastic card. By providing a smooth and seamless loyalty experience, brands will create a millennial-friendly loyalty program that will keep consumers of this generation coming back for more.
Brands that want to earn millennial loyalty must first embrace the fact that consumers of this generation really do want to engage with brands and their loyalty programs, but it has to be in the way these consumers want to consume. Appealing to this demographic requires brands to ensure that the ways they deliver their rewards programs are as flexible and mobile as millennials are themselves.
Photo by patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Kate Hogenson is Loyalty Strategy Senior Consultant at Kobie Marketing.