Why Marketers Can't Afford to Ignore Millennials

Four Key Findings From a New Edelman Study Shed Light on Group's Growing Influence

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A lot has been written about the millennials. They are poised to hit their stride economically –- assuming they can ever get a job and get out of mom's basement. But a new global study from Edelman caught our eye so we invited Christina Smedley, global chair of consumer marketing, to post about it.

Christina Smedley
Christina Smedley
Move over, boomers. With more than 1.7 billion people worldwide between the ages of 15 and 30, the millennials are quickly becoming what Gen Buy recently referred to as the "most affluent and influential shoppers on the planet." With the oldest millennials turning 30 this year, marketers can't afford to think about the generation as kids anymore. Marketers also can't underestimate the influence the millennial generation has on starting trends and influencing brand purchase decisions.

Edelman recently released a new global study finding that eight in 10 millennials are taking action for brands they trust, both on and offline, including sharing brand experiences with others, joining branded online communities and posting brand reviews online. Nearly half of those surveyed said they have written about positive brand experiences online with 39% reporting to have written about negative brand experiences. Further, because of their robust social networks and ongoing use of connected technology, those actions are reverberating at a high rate among their friends and families.

Data from the Edelman 8095 study on millennials
Data from the Edelman 8095 study on millennials Credit: Edelman
The study, named after the generation born between 1980 and 1995 and part of a new millennial consultancy called Edelman 8095, explores how "8095ers" connect with brands, make brand purchase decisions and share their opinions on products and companies. The study was conducted by Edelman's research arm, StrategyOne, with 3,100 millennials in eight countries.

As brands look to engage the 8095 generation, our study reveals four key areas of interest:

Brands as form of self expression: Brand preference is the No. 1 personal identifier that 8095ers said they are willing to share online; in some places they preferred to share a brand preference more than their hometown or even their name. 8095ers also may not be as fickle as some think, with 70% globally saying they keep coming back to brands they like (80% in the U.S.). When identifying the brands they like, 8095ers said that nothing matters more than quality, authenticity and integrity. Also, one in three 8095ers said they depend on brands to learn about new trends.

Information is a key to influence: Brand purchasing decisions are not made in silos. Even when considering some of the most basic purchases, more than 50% of 8095ers use four or more sources of information to help them make their purchase decision and a third use seven or more sources. Making it easier for 8095ers to share information, a full 75% said they are disconnected for an hour or less per day.

Action is intrinsic: Worldwide, eight in 10 8095ers take action on behalf of a trusted brand. More important, this action is, on average, more positive than it is negative. Nearly half will share positive brand experiences. Eighty-two percent of 8095ers have joined a brand-sponsored online community, and one in four is a member of seven or more.

Reverberation rules: By reverberation, we mean the cross influence that this group has on each other and their friends and family. En masse, 8095ers think they are influencers, with 76% believing they are highly depended upon for their opinions, and if their friends don't approve, more than a third won't make that purchase. More than one third of global 8095ers also admitted to us that they won't likely make a purchase that their friends don't approve of.

At the core of our new research is the idea that the 8095 generation cannot be defined as a monolithic bloc. As they move through fundamentally different life stages, marketers must throw out their old playbooks and build an ongoing dialogue with 8095ers. With the average age of the world population now at 28, it's likely that those playbooks will be rewritten by more marketers sooner rather than later.

Christina Smedley is Global Chair of the Consumer Marketing Practice at Edelman. She has more than 20 years experience in consumer products, technology, corporate and online marketing. Download the white paper here.

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