Gen Y Favors Loyalty When Shaping Brand Perception, Study Finds

Millennials are practical and engaged when forming brand perception, contradicting the idea of their "brand agnostic" mindset, a Concentric Marketing study finds.

Getting into the millennial mind (scary, we know) is far from simple when it comes to products they purchase and brands they follow.

Gen Y consumers value loyalty in branding, influenced by peer reviews and brands introduced to them as children, according to a new Concentric Marketing study, “Everything You Thought You Knew About Millennials Might Not Be True.”

This is the generation that seeks engagement—wanting to be a part of the conversation and keen to respond with their message, the study found. And so the question follows: How should associations build a network of consumers while creating a foundation for long-term loyalty?

“E” Is for Engage

Sure, Time magazine dubbed this generation as the “Me, me, me” bunch—but millennials’ focus stretches beyond themselves. “Me” is influenced by “them,” with peer recommendations guiding purchasing decisions, as does familiarity of the brands they’ve grown to recognize, the study found. A few highlights:

  • 49 percent of respondents say they turn to brands they know and trust.
  • 40 percent say they buy brands recommended by family and friends.
  • 30 percent cite price as the primary motivator behind a purchase.

Gen Y consumers connect the most to apparel and technology brands, the study found, in addition to companies that predate them like Coke and Adidas. Respondents also cited Apple, Nike, and Target as retail stores that best speak to their generation.

Why? It comes down to trust. The brands millennials have grown up with—and stuck with—produce quality products and reliable service, and it’s this consistency that inspires trust, the study reported. And it’s trust that breeds loyalty. To create long-term followers, branding must reflect that.


Target’s got its red bull’s-eye on the millennial trend, to say the least.

In one innovative advertising approach, the Minneapolis-based retail company launched Bullseye University, a four-day, live-streaming event featuring five YouTube personalities shacking in a Target-designed dorm room. Live bands performed at night. Workout classes were taught during the day. And viewers could go online and interact with the “roommates,” with the opportunity to purchase the Target items featured.

The advertisement touched on the qualities millennials are drawn to: interaction and conversation via online content they’re already plugged into. “It’s really important for us to build that relationship with these future guests early on,” Rick Gomez, Target’s senior vice president of marketing, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “If you get them into Target and understand the brand and what we have to offer, we can create guests for life.”

The Friend Factor

According to the Concentric Marketing data, about 55 percent of millennials say they find out about products from friends first—and 85 percent say they tell friends about products they like. Today’s sphere of virtual engagement encourages conversation among a generation that wants to respond. What millennials say about brands is as important as what brands say about themselves, the report concluded.

The future begins today. Get those millennials talking.


Emma Beck

By Emma Beck

Emma Beck is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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