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Rick Murray: Why Millennial Shoppers Are Alpha-Influencers

The Millennial generation is now the largest generation on earth, but how much influence do they have over what their peers and those in other...

Rick Murray, Edelman Digital
Rick Murray, Edelman Digital on December 9, 2012.

The Millennial generation is big. In fact, they’re now the largest generation on earth at 1.8 billion globally. But bigger than their size may be their influence over other generations… or so they think, at least. Indeed, 74% percent of them believe they have a direct influence over what their peers and those in other generations buy.

This week, our Edelman teams will share the results of the newest study from the 8095 Exchange, a global Millennial consultancy, named for the years in which the generation was born, 1980 to 1995. To conduct the study Edelman Berland talked to 4,000 Millennials in 11 countries, and built upon 2010’s benchmark 8095 study.

The world has changed and so have Millennials since the first study was unveiled in 2010. They aren’t kids anymore. The oldest are turning 33, and the youngest are out of high school at 18. As they step headlong into their 20s and 30s, their wallets, and the careers that fill them, will change business forever.

Part of the new 8095 study reveals how the generation is influencing those around them, and how brands can work with this group.

Social Shopping Rules: Millennials don’t typically shop alone, and one in three won’t make a purchase if their friends don’t approve of it. As a generation of alpha-influencers, they want to engage with brands: globally, 7 in 10 say it’s their responsibility to share feedback with a brand whether it’s a good or bad experience. In India and China, 90% of Millennials feel it is their responsibility to share feedback with brands.

Information + Community = Trends: The way this group is finding information, particularly around trends, is rapidly evolving, and the brands that aren’t fast followers are the ones being left behind. The decline in Millennials referencing brands as a top way they learn about new trends (35% in 2010 to 25% in 2012) might be a result of the increase in the number of trusted sources they have at their fingertips. Brands aren’t the only ones that define trends, no matter how hard they try. Communities do. Almost 95% of the 8095ers surveyed said they crowd-source before parting with their money on a purchase.

(Quality or Price) + (Humor or Honesty) = Like: Millennials base their brand purchase decisions around the following: quality; price; what other people are saying about it; and “if the brand helps me in other parts of my life.” Humor, honesty and purpose also rank high in their decision journey. Show them value and make them laugh is a good approach. Work with their influencers to help define the brand and you’ll be even better off.

New Paths to Success: The global recession is hammering Millennials, inspiring many to find new ways to succeed on their own. In Turkey, 76% of Millennials list starting their own business as a top life goal. Globally, nearly half of the Millennials surveyed said starting a business is a top life goal. When it comes to life aspirations overall, their goals are quite traditional. Millennials cite “owning a home” (78%) and “starting a family” (72%) as top three goals. These traditional aspirations are only outpaced in importance by “finding a job that matches my own personal passion.”

Engage Millennials online and off. Allow them to co-create and have two-way dialogue. Entertain them with great content. Provide value. We found that Millennials don’t mind advertising (only 3% found all of it to be boring) but they do expect something in return from brands. They want quality experiences, products and direct engagement from brands. To navigate the high standard Millennials place on brands, it is imperative for marketers to loosen the grips on what b-school told them defines a brand, and start listening closely to how Millennials define the brands they choose to support.

Rick Murray is definitely not a Millennial. He’s the 55 year old President of Edelman Chicago, but he gets to work with a lot of Millennials every day. Some even say they like him. He’s also got three of his own. Follow 8095 discussion on Twitter at @Edelman8095, Tumblr and Sina Weibo, or Rick himself @rickmurray.

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