There are over 1 billion people on Facebook today and nearly 70 million users on Reddit. Renren boasts 178 million users. Tumblr hosts over 100 million blogs. It's not news that the world's citizens are increasingly using social platforms to share both professional and personal life experiences. And that includes their experiences with brands. This is especially true of the millennial generation (those born after 1980), who have seamlessly integrated social media into their lives, just as they have embraced certain brands as their trusted companions.
Millennials, unlike previous generations, aren't just consumers of brands, they are CO-sumers of brands--connecting with them, contributing to them, and even co-creating with them in exchange for the meaning and utility these brands add to their lives. In our most recent Havas Worldwide Prosumer Report, "Digital and the New Consumer: Emerging Paths to Purchase," 60% of millennials surveyed around the world said they prefer to buy from companies that share their personal values.
What exactly are the brand values millennials seek? In the recent World Economic Forum Sustainable Consumption Report (prepared in collaboration with Accenture), the top factors in buying decisions among millennials (beyond price and quality) are trust (78%), environmental friendliness (71%), ethical practices (71%), and alignment with social causes (61%). Brands are part of millennials' lifestreams--representations of them as individuals and of their belief systems. This means a brand's history and story, where it comes from, what it believes in, and how it contributes to our planet is of utmost importance to this newest generation of young adults.
If you share meaningful values with millennials, they will socialize your brand message for you. They have proved themselves willing to publically partner with companies and brands that do good and contribute positively to their lives. In our Havas Worldwide Prosumer study, we found that, more than any other demographic, millennials like to share their experiences with brands, products, and companies with friends and others via social media. Already, 6 in 10 do so. It says a lot about this generation that one-third of millennials are more willing to share positive than negative brand experiences, while only 8% are more likely to share negative. By and large, they are brand advocates--not adversaries.
It'll be the millenials (and generations after them) that force radical transparency upon companies. They will be co-creators of the next generation of brands and the arbiters of brand behaviors. Knowing how your customers purchase your product is important. Understanding why they do is critical. Does your company, product, service, or brand have what it takes? Just ask the kids these days.