This is the third installment of our weekly series entitled “Meaningful Millennials”, where we interview millennials on a variety of different subjects that are top of mind for us in the studio.
As a brand strategy firm, we work with our clients to help create and roll out strategies that enable their brand, their business, and their workplaces to be more meaningful. We believe that with meaning comes loyalty. And with loyalty comes sustained and successful business. This month, we have been focusing on how brands can build loyal relationships with millennials that inspire connections, maintain trust, establish rapport, and continue to grow throughout time.
As a millennial myself, this week, I asked my peers: What is a brand that you are loyal to, and what do you think drives your brand loyalty?
I heard 12 millennials’ thoughts and here’s what I learned.
Millennials value reliability and authenticity. They want brands that feel like they were built for them. Being personal is one of the biggest assets a brand can have. To be successful with millennials, brands should generate feelings of trust, and also excitement. We like brands that we can rely on, are always satisfied by, and also excited by. Brands gain emotional meaning when they are connected to important and shaping experiences and people in our lives. In the end, loyalty isn’t really about price or product. It’s about brand experiences and associations, and how the brand adds to our life in meaningful, unique, and individualized ways.
Read more about what these twelve millennials had to say.
“As a twenty-something-year-old, who has moved more than a few times since graduating from college, my loyalty to most brands change almost as rapidly as my current housing situation. However, one company has had my love since a very young age; Ikea. Land of ball pin play dates, DIY furniture, wondrous colors and designs, and the best meatballs on the planet, this brand has been a must-have in my life for as long as I can remember. Ikea means more to me than just house furnishings and kitchen wear – each piece of furniture has a story behind it, a memory of a trip to the blue warehouse, an assembly marathon, a pride that comes from DIY success. It is the simplicity, modernity, and ease that Ikea creates in every item in their collection that has won a place in my home, and I will keep me coming back for more. Ikea will always have a place in my heart, and will always leave me full, happy, and with bags and bags full of things I never knew I needed.”
—Sierra Adams, Development and Member Services Coordinator, Martha’s Vineyard Museum
“I am extremely loyal to Nordstrom’s for a number of reasons. Nordstrom’s customer service is exceptional. If you frequent a specific store, they will remember your name, style, and shopping habits. While their prices can be a little expensive at times, the quality of their clothing is high and very consistent. Lastly, their return policy is unmatched by any other company. I can return any item purchased online or in the store without a receipt, regardless of how much time has passed. This makes shopping from them even more attractive. I attribute Nordstrom’s high customer loyalty to their attention to detail and focus on customer convenience.”
—Megan Renken, Intern, The Claremont Institute
“Steve Madden because they have high quality-products that last a long time, but aren’t outrageously priced. They manage to have a variety of different types of shoes that always have a unique look, but at the same time follow the same underlying style! I always know exactly what I’m going to get from one of their products. They are always going to be my style.”
—Sara Chinnaswamy, District Sales Representative, Nalco Champion, an Ecolab Company
“I’m loyal to Danner. My mom’s hand-me-down pair of Danner boots has seen me through camping in Acadia and hikes in Oregon. Every time I wear Danner, I remember the places my mother has been and feel inspired to get outside.”
—Kate Weiner, Creative Director, Loam Magazine
“I am loyal to Red Wing boots for their timeless style and quality. I am also loyal to Master & Dynamic headphones because they provide better sound quality at a lower price point. I’m also involved in the company. I’m definitely not loyal to IKEA because my bed frame keeps breaking. I think cultivating a clear brand image and sticking with it creates a culture of brand loyalty. Brands that have a clear vision, which they don’t compromise for any trends, tend to a attract a small group of lifetime customers.”
—Caleb Sule, Student, University of Pennsylvania
“A brand I am loyal to is Target. Household items aren’t the most exciting things to shop for, but Target makes it personal. They truly care about their customers, demonstrated through a simplified shopping experience, community outreach, and an easy-to-use rewards program (Cartwheel). In return, I will go out of my way to shop at Target instead of other large department stores or smaller convenient store chains.”
—Ellie Donohue, Deutsch LA, Account Coordinator
“There are a handful of brands I’m loyal to, but one that sticks out most is Madewell. Their whole look is natural yet aspirational, authentic yet modern. Madewell does great collaborations with style influencers that make their products feel a bit more special than the average retailer. Their sense of effortless style certainly has me checking them out more frequently, plus when Madewell has a sale, it’s killer!”
—Janice Fong, Art Director, Sapient Nitro
“I thought for a while about a brand I might be loyal to and had a hard time coming up with even one brand that I am actually loyal to. Then I realized that everything I own is an Apple product. I have an iPhone, an Apple computer, iPad, and use many of the different software Apple produces. I think Apple is a great company because, for the most part, their products just work. Anyone can easily learn to use them. They are also aesthetically pleasing. Apple products in the end are also extremely useful and powerful machines that are used for large portions of our lives. As long as Apple maintains the quality of its products, I will be a loyal customer.”
—Tyler Peters, Freelance Production Associate
“When I’m home, I will go with my father to Costco and call it an afternoon well-spent. You never know what inhuman shape the suspiciously cheap Timberland clothing will have, but it’s fun to find out. The gentleman serving frozen pierogi samples will offer his preparation preferences. The largest Nutella container in existence probably lurks down the right aisle. It’s not about the precise product. Even if I don’t buy anything (besides the mandatory giant slice of pizza), I can depend on Costco for the sheer density of novelty.”
—Ari Kaufman, Student, Wesleyan University
“I am extremely loyal to Barilla pasta. I think I have a special connection to it because when I started shopping for myself in college, I recognized the blue packaging as the type of angel hair pasta that I would eat before runs in the morning. I think that what drives brand loyalty is that feeling of familiarity or elite status or whatever it needs to be for you to really be connected with it. I buy my pasta from blue Barilla packages because I feel like I have a relationship with it and that’s what matters more than price or image or quality (although all of those things help to determine that relationship).
—Brooks Hall, Content Developer, Niche Associates
“Excellence and affordability undoubtedly drive brand loyalty, which is why I am loyal to Honda. Their vehicles consistently receive accolades for safety and value, but trust is ultimately the most powerful factor behind brand loyalty. From St. Louis to Hilton to Ann Arbor (and more), our family Honda has taken us on countless adventures across the country. Most importantly, though, Honda always gets us home. I have been hit in my Honda a few times and have emerged with no injuries and minimal vehicle damage. To trust a brand with your life is the highest form of loyalty, and Honda has not let me down.”
—Amrita Hari-Raj, Clinical Research Technician, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
“As someone you don’t want to be around without coffee, I’m avidly loyal to Keruig. It’s always there before class, or after, and it doesn’t take as long to add extra foam. I think in order to ensure brand loyalty, the company needs to feel loyalty towards their product or service just as much (or more) than their target consumer. No way would the founder of Keurig have started the brand had he or she not been a caffeine aficionado. Either that, or they just know what coffee-lovers, a.k.a. college students needs.”
–Arlo Gordon, Contributing Writer, The Odyssey Online
Here are our top-line findings from these millennials.
- Brands that fit our personal image, style, and needs integrate seamlessly into our life. They feel like they were meant for us, and we feel naturally inclined toward them.
- Brand loyalty is more about experience than product. Millennials associate their favorite brands with other people, aspirations, places, rituals, etc. and these associations and stories are what create meaning.
- Feelings of trust and authenticity are key to loyalty. Brands that want loyal consumers have to create trusting relationships with those consumers — building, maintaining, and growing the connection like the brand was human as well.
- When millennials feel loyal to a brand, they are more likely to spend more money and dedicate more time seeking out their favorite brands. If a brand goes the extra mile for us, we will go the extra mile for it.
Next week, we will continue our “Meaningful Millennial” series, discussing what purpose beyond profit means for millennials. If you are interested in contributing to this discussion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.