Much of what has been written about Millennials and their loyalty to brands falls into familiar and somewhat predictable schools of thought.
The oft-cited storyline about the 18- to 34-year-old demographic that represents 25% of the population and more than $200 billion in annual spending goes something like this:
- When it comes to choosing their preferred brands, Millennials are dedicated to product quality above all other factors.
- They’re fiercely loyal to their favorite brands and retailers.
- They want their favorite brands and companies to support social causes and the higher good in tangible and meaningful ways.
But raised on the Internet and entering the workforce just as the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Millennials are also a penny-pinching lot, it turns out, and they’re willing to switch their loyalty to favorite brands and retailers if they can save money on the everyday cost of driving and gasoline.
That’s just one of the surprising findings in an Ipsos survey of 1,016 U.S. consumers about their favorite loyalty programs and preferred rewards incentives. (The survey was sponsored by Excentus.)
Far more than 35- to 54-year-old Generation Xers (69%) and their 55-plus Baby Boomer parents (59%), 80% of Millennials said they are willing to switch their brand allegiance if by doing so they can earn anywhere from a dime to $1, or more, per-gallon-off on gas.
The same holds true for preferred retailers, with 78% of Millennials willing to shop at a different store in order to save on gasoline, compared with 64% of Gen Xers and 51% of Boomers. That finding meshes with a separate Adroit Digital Survey, which found that financial reasons are most likely (56%) to convince Millennials to switch retailers.
And even though Millennials have been described as late-life bloomers who take longer than previous generations to move out on their own and purchase cars, they’re also more enthusiastic about saving on the costs of driving (26%) than Gen Xers (19%) and Boomers (13%). Millennials said they join fuel savings rewards programs because they drive a lot and enjoy the ability to save money.
Somewhat surprisingly–given their heightened interest in making driving affordable–Millennials are less likely (54%) than Generation X (67%) or Boomers (78%) to pay attention to the cost of gasoline at the pump.
Millennials: Frugal, Connected, And Mobile
Other Millennial-specific findings from the Ipsos survey include:
• Millennials spread around their ability to save on everyday living among several loyalty schemes, including retailer/brand coupons (26%), fuel savings rewards (25%), and instant discounts at the cash register (23%).
• While most older consumers earn fuel rewards from grocery store programs, Millennials also spread their earning power among retail store programs (30%), oil/gas-branded credit cards (26%), travel rewards programs and professional industry associations (14%, tie).
• Often known for their social networking prowess and group affinity, Millennials are more likely to join a fuel savings rewards program (19%) based on the recommendation of a family member or friend, compared with 8% of Generation X and 7% of Baby Boomers.
• At 13%, Millennials are more likely than older generations to interact with their rewards program daily (10% Generation X, 7% Boomers).
• And no doubt a sign of their always-on Internet connectivity, Millennials (33%) are more than twice as likely as Gen Xers (16%) and more than five times as likely as Boomers (5%) to check their rewards status from a mobile app. Willing to embed technology into their daily routines, Millennials are also more likely to check rewards from a wearable device, such as an Apple Watch (7%), than Gen Xers (2%) and Boomers (0%)
Takeaways For Marketers, Retailers, And Brands
The results of this study should remind marketing professionals that making assumptions about certain demographic audiences might deliver less-than-optimal results for marketing campaigns or loyalty initiatives. Asking consumers outright can often provide different answers than what were expected in terms of behaviors, activities, and preferences.
And in a marketplace that is competitive, price-conscious, and increasingly influenced by mobile devices, technology, and crowd-originated content and peer recommendations, marketers can benefit from a deeper understanding of why certain groups of consumers behave and act the ways they do.
Millennials (and other well-defined demographic groups) cannot be easily pigeonholed for marketing purposes. And when these consumers approach the market with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude, marketers should be prepared with campaigns and initiatives that help answer their questions and solve their everyday challenges.