The Gist: As the bearers of a changing consumer philosophy, Millennials opt for “new” over “known.” In Q1 2014, 84% of Millennials said they were at least somewhat loyal to their favorite brands. That number as of the past quarter rests at 78%, which is 12% lower than Baby Boomers.
Travel back 20 years ago: You’ve just made it home in time for dinner, and all you’re craving is that very specific brand of cheesecake you bought at the store last week. It has been calling your name since you woke up, and finally, you’ve reunited. In the time it takes you to devour it, that same brand of cheesecake has already appeared – magically – on your shopping list for next week.
Present Day: You’ve just made it home in time for dinner, and all you’re craving is that very specific brand of cheesecake you bought at the store last week. It’s been calling your name since you woke up, and finally, you’ve reunited. In the time it takes you to devour it, that same brand of cheesecake has already appeared – magically – on your shopping list for next week. However, when you go to the store the next week, you’re suddenly struck by how many brands of cheesecake you haven’t yet tried. As much as you love last week’s dessert, you can’t be held down. No. You must try another brand of cheesecake.
All of this is a somewhat melodramatic way to illustrate quickly changing consumer philosophies surrounding brand loyalty. At each stage of the buying cycle, brands are vulnerable to losing their consumers – no matter how fantastic the product.
As the author of one article phrases it, “new” is now better than “known.” More on this later.
Naturally, the younger generation is at the forefront of this lifestyle change. Take a look:
For years, brand loyalty among Millennials has been slowly declining. In Q1 2014, 84% of Millennials said they were at least somewhat loyal to their favorite brands. That number as of the past quarter rests at 78%.
In comparison to Gen X (35-54) and Baby Boomers (55+), both of these numbers seem relatively small. Roughly 90% of Baby Boomers, for example, say they are at least somewhat loyal to their favorite brands – and brand loyalty among them is only increasing.
Though this change among Millennials is not a monumental difference, it’s worth noting as an illustration of changing times. What do I mean? I could tell you, but Kathleen Kusek probably explains it better than I ever could:
“Over the last three generations, major trends in marriage, religion, politics, and corporate America have reframed expectations for surviving and thriving in this world. The consistent theme is that change is not something to be feared or avoided. Change is inherently good. And the hankering for change is increasing at an accelerated rate.
The historical concept of loyalty as a value is hinged in the desire for long-term connections and mutual trust on both sides of the equation. The reasons we believed that loyalty was an important social value are no longer valid.”
Given this accelerated rate of change, it should come as no surprise that brand loyalty is on the decline. It’s no one’s fault, really, it’s just the product of the centurial years of which Millennials entered the world.
On one level, this sucks, and on another level, it’s exciting.
50 FIRST DATES
A good analogy to this movement may be the amusing film, 50 First Dates, which of course stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. I would warn of a possible spoiler alert, but the movie premiered 13 years ago, so I think it’s safe to say that the grace period is over.
As a quick recap, Drew Barrymore’s character wakes up each day, unable to remember the past day or week. Each day, she is a blank slate. Adam Sandler’s character takes this as an opportunity to make her fall in love with him – all over again – day after day.
Today’s brands are Adam Sandler, and today’s Millennial consumers resemble a Drew Barrymore-like persona. Every day, brands have to make their consumers fall in love with them. Again. Every single day. Well – every single buying cycle may be more accurate.
That said – as Adam Sandler’s character surely knows – brands also have greater opportunity to fail every day. One bad stunt (Pepsi, anyone?) could easily alienate those who are already willing to shop elsewhere.
Interested in other insights? Check out our recent posts on Millennial engagement in politics, the potential decline of empathy among Millennials, and the exodus towards texting among Baby Boomers.