There are now 72 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 34.1 Why should marketers and brands care? Millennials have become the largest generation with the greatest combined purchasing power ($2.45 trillion worldwide by 20151) in history. By next year, Millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025 they will account for 75% of the global workplace.2
So how can marketers reach this highly influential age group? Not through traditional marketing…
The connected generation
Millennials are the first generation to grow up in the digital era and therefore have lead the way in adopting new platforms such as mobile technology and social media. They have the highest penetration of Internet usage with 93% of Millennials using the Internet.3 They are the largest users of social media with 91% of Millennials currently active on Facebook6, and over half of Twitter’s user base in this age group.5
Millennials spend more time online than any other age group. In fact they spent an average of 96 hours (four full days) online during the month of November, far above the average usage rates for 35-54 year-olds and 55 and older.6
Millennials are active on more social channels than other age groups, with a higher penetration rate on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Snapchat than previous generations. LinkedIn is the one channel that Millennials are less active on than previous generations.6
Despite thoughts to the contrary, Millennials still spend a majority of their time on Facebook with Facebook consuming 76% of total minutes among the selected leading social networks.6
Millennials are more likely than other generations to make purchases online and 41% say that they have made a purchase using their smartphones.7 Millennials follow brands on social, with 63% reporting they stay up to date with brands through social networks.8
When researching purchases online, Millennials look for word-of-mouth recommendations and user-generation content (UGC) to help them with their purchase decision and 46% say they “count on social media” for help with their decision.9 Of Millennials, 84% reported that UGC on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy, compared to 70% of Boomers. In fact, without consumer input, often they will not purchase.10
Below is a graph of the top purchases that Millennials will not complete without user-generated content.
Millennials are also more likely than Baby Boomers to trust the opinion of strangers when it comes to consumer reviews and social media, 51% compared to just 34% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are also 3x more likely than Baby Boomers to turn to social channels for opinions about products to buy. 10
Millennials as influencers
Millennials aren’t just researching and reading about consumer opinions online; they are participating in the conversation. 71% of Millennials share opinions about brands because they feel other consumers value those opinions, and 64% of Millennials feel that companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online in the future.10
When it comes to sharing their opinions on social, Millennials are more influential than previous generations. The Millennial generation’s median friend count on Facebook is 250, significantly higher than that of older age groups.4
Loyalty among Millennials
The Millennial generation is loyal but brands need to work for it. The majority of Millennials report having the same level of brand loyalty as their parents, but 77% say they use a different set of criteria in selecting brands to be loyal to, and 78% say brands have to work harder to earn their brand loyalty than they did to earn their parents’ loyalty.11
The keys to building brand loyalty among Millennials are a willingness to change based on consumer opinion, open dialogue through social channels, and becoming a more consumer focused versus brand focused brand.
The bottom line is brands no longer control the messaging; it belongs to their consumers and influencers. Millennials are becoming an extremely influential and connected generation that brands cannot afford to ignore.