Why Millennials Love & Are Loyal To Brands With Personality

To cap­ture the hearts and dol­lars of mil­len­ni­al audi­ences, con­sid­er build­ing a brand around the best friend you always wished you had.

Madeleine Kronovet By Madeleine Kronovet from Red Peak Branding. Join the discussion » 0 comments

We often hear how Mil­len­ni­als are teth­ered to their elec­tron­ic devices. “Life is what hap­pens when you’re look­ing at your smart­phone.”

It makes sense. Our phones are so much more than just phones – they’re mir­rors, wal­lets, alarm clocks, taxi hail­ers, and envy insti­ga­tors. DJs, bro­ker­age hous­es, and health mon­i­tors. Right­ful­ly so, we spend a lot of time on them.

Accord­ing to a Gallup poll, over 50 per­cent of Mil­len­ni­als check their phones at least a few times an hour. That adds up to a lot of screen time.

Accord­ing­ly, this time and engage­ment trans­lates to high favor­a­bil­i­ty rat­ings. Apple, Google, and Sam­sung, all extreme­ly influ­en­tial in dri­ving the tech­no­log­i­cal ecosys­tem we live in today, con­sis­tent­ly top “most valu­able” and “favorite” brand lists, from Forbes on the for­mer to Boston Con­sult­ing Group on the lat­ter. Curi­ous, we set out to bet­ter under­stand the brand pref­er­ences of Mil­len­ni­als that dri­ve pur­chase intent.

Which Brand Characteristics Do Millennials Most Value?

Last year, Red Peak Youth sur­veyed 6,000 18- to 34-year-olds on their per­cep­tion of brands in val­ues such as altru­ism, user-cen­trism, par­tic­i­pa­tion, per­son­al­i­ty, and inge­nu­ity, as well as key mark­ers of suc­cess like brand love, loy­al­ty and momen­tum.

To test mea­sures of brand affin­i­ty, we asked par­tic­i­pants to rate how strong­ly they agreed to the fol­low­ing state­ments: “One of the only brands I’d con­sid­er” (loy­al­ty), “The brand’s best days are ahead of it” (momen­tum), and “I love this brand” (love). A score of 8, 9 or 10 indi­cat­ed agree­ment.

We sus­pect­ed brands like Apple and Google would score well, but we were sur­prised to dis­cov­er that feel­ings of love and loy­al­ty are felt as strongly—if not more strongly—for con­sumer-pack­aged food brands as they are for tech brands.

Why Millennials Love Oreo More Than Google

Indeed, the results of our Y‑Value Ana­lyt­ics sur­vey show that 70 per­cent of Mil­len­ni­als report lov­ing Oreo – 3 per­cent more than Google.

Google, cre­ator of Gmail, devel­op­er of Android, and glob­al arbiter of “don’t be evil,” gar­ners less brand love than an unbleached enriched flour cook­ie. That’s pret­ty wild. As to why, sim­ply put: this, ladies and gen­tle­men, is the pow­er of brand. Oreo, not just a choco­late-fla­vored wafer with a sweet cream fill­ing, scored 50 per­cent high­er than aver­age in met­rics like “is always think­ing about how to make me hap­py” and “has a per­son­al­i­ty I like.”

Our Y‑Value study of 75 brands yield­ed some oth­er counter-intu­itive find­ings.

For exam­ple, Mil­len­ni­als feel more loy­al to Snick­ers than Apple (69 per­cent of those sur­veyed feel loy­al to the brand ver­sus 64 per­cent for Apple). And they feel equal mea­sures of loy­al­ty to Google as they do to Oreo – 4 out of 5 Mil­len­ni­als expressed loy­al­ty to each. They also believe that Oreo has more brand momen­tum than Apple (which now, actu­al­ly, seems quite pre­scient).

Brand Personality Trumps All

These dis­cov­er­ies high­light the impor­tance of brand per­son­al­i­ty, user cen­tric­i­ty, and relata­bil­i­ty, key val­ues in suc­cess­ful­ly mar­ket­ing to these con­sumers.

Oreo, a snack that’s been around for 100-plus years, over­hauled its mar­ket­ing to revamp what the brand stood for and whom it spoke to. Hon­ing its social skills, the con­ver­sa­tion dras­ti­cal­ly changed, and was now between a cheeky, much more rel­e­vant brand and mil­lions of young adults – tak­ing place dig­i­tal­ly, far out­side of the kitchen.

While a brand posi­tion­ing describes the qual­i­ties that dif­fer­en­ti­ate one brand from anoth­er, the per­son­al­i­ty is what tru­ly dis­tin­guish­es it. Func­tion­al aspects mat­ter, of course, but the strongest brands are those with well-defined per­son­al­i­ties that relate to the con­sumers on an emo­tion­al lev­el.

But who would have thought that a cook­ie could be viewed as hav­ing more per­son­al­i­ty than Apple?

To con­trast the two, the snack brand speaks direct­ly to its audi­ence – engag­ing, spon­ta­neous, and friend­ly. Apple, on the oth­er hand, demands you meet them on their terms. Prod­uct launch­es are on a rigid sched­ule, there are nev­er any sales (!), and even the com­ments sec­tion is dis­abled on their YouTube chan­nel. That’s no fun.

While Apple wants con­trol, Oreo aims for affec­tion. From this per­spec­tive, it’s no won­der that the cook­ie brand outscores Apple in mea­sures of love and loy­al­ty in our study. Even if 99 per­cent of Mil­len­ni­als are devot­ed to their phone, only 46 per­cent of Mil­len­ni­als feel ded­i­cat­ed to the Apple brand.

Madeleine Kronovet

Written by Madeleine Kronovet

Strategist, Red Peak Branding

Madeleine Kronovet is a strategist at Red Peak Branding, a NYC-based brand-strategy and design firm.

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