Study: Millennials Engage More With Brands Than Older Generations

Millennials may have to wait a few more years to outspend baby boomers, but those young U.S. consumers are currently out-engaging older generations.

U.S. millennials engage with brands significantly more than older generations and expect their values to be reflected in the brands they purchase, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

The report is based on findings from surveys in 2013 conducted by BCG’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight involving nearly 4,000 U.S. millennials and non-millennials. The surveys covered behavior, values, brand engagement, marketing tactics, and other topics.

The study found that 50 percent of consumers ages 18 to 24 and 38 percent of those ages 25 to 34 agreed that brands “say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in.” Forty-eight percent said that they “try to use brands of companies that are active in supporting social causes.” More than half of millennials said that they are willing to share their brand preferences on social media, compared with 31 percent of baby boomers. The study also found that more than half of millennials said that people seek them out for their knowledge and opinions of brands, compared with only 35 percent of boomers.

According to BCG, millennials already account for an estimated $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending, of which at least $430 billion is estimated to be discretionary, nonessential spending. The report forecasts that the sum will grow “dramatically” because by 2030, the projected 78 million millennials in the U.S. will outnumber the projected 56 million baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964).

“Millennials want and expect a two-way, reciprocal relationship with companies and their brands,” said Christine Barton, a BCG partner and the lead author of the report, in a statement. “As a result, modern marketing has become an ecosystem driven by interactions among marketers, customers, and potential customers who help define brands and influence their success.”

Other highlights from the survey:

  • Fifty-two percent of millennials said they use social media to “like” a brand, compared with 33 percent of boomers surveyed.
  • Thirty-nine percent of millennials post product reviews.
  • Twice as many millennials as boomers check prices, look up product information, or search for promotions on their mobile devices while in a store.
  • Nearly twice as many millennials as boomers said “availability 24/7” is the most important thing that brands can do to engage them.
  • Less than half of millennials said that they trust expert advisors such as doctors or financial advisors compared with 61 percent of non-millennials.
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