A few weeks back, I saw this article on Chipotle having a hard time winning back millennial moms to their rewards program, and I’ve been keeping an eye on the discussion that’s followed.
The ideas & approaches that sprang up showed to me just how vast the modern loyalty space is, but what I also saw was, in my opinion, a real lack of understanding. And this lack of understanding isn’t something new at all – we’re getting millennials wrong, it’s hurting loyalty programs, it’s hurting business, and we need to set the record straight.
‘They’ve grown up lazy and expectant’ & ‘they forget about subscriptions’ have been lines I’ve heard on countless occasions from experts in this fervent period of millennial dissection.
To a degree, there’s truth in that. Millennials definitely have a certain level of expectation when it comes to instant gratification, and the long-term stats seem to back that up. And the mountains of accounts they manage do leave them vulnerable to forgetting their participation and even experiencing recurring charges. But while they are technology natives that have known nothing other than a disposable, on-demand society, their behavior isn’t completely different to my own (before you say anything, Generation X!). Despite being an ‘adopter’, I too have been oblivious to recurring payments, and I love finding new convenient technologies to make my life simpler and easier – it’s human nature at its best.
“We’re finding that Millennials are the most loyal customers to their brands”
The big problem is that there’s a fallout from the above. The misconceptions lead to the conclusion that millennials aren’t loyal, which can lead to bad program choices. Just look to see how strategists now talk up millennials as if they’re aliens. And this hyper-analysis has seemingly translated into real programs with 64% of companies offering exclusive loyalty promotions to specific customer demographics. Segmentation is a valid tactic, I totally support that, but be warned that making it the base of a program could well be a mistake (and not too easy on your finances).
So, I say, let’s not overthink this, folks, millennials are people just like you and me. Heck, a lot of us are even raising them! And, in actuality, we’re finding that millennials are the most loyal customers to their brands.
A New Theory
The ‘most loyal’ stat stumps many, but I think the simple answer may be that this generation has been hammered with advertising since they were kids, including rewards programs, and the consequence of that is that they have a huge pool to pick from but there’s a level of desensitization. Ergo, there’s a lot of wastage where programs fall by the wayside. What this means is that you have to work harder to keep millennial attention, but, if you do it right and are the right type of business, you’ll reap the rewards (yep, that pun’s intended).
Applying this to Your Program
With the subtle generational differences, I think there are certain acquisition tactics that need to be played with millennials that wouldn’t resonate as well with other cohorts. But you can see a lot of brands already have this nailed down, offering tempting, instant gratification freebie bonuses for sign-ups or coupon offers. Millennials, in particular, do snap that stuff up. It’s keeping them in-program that’s the REAL problem and where many go wrong.
From our long-term data, I know that millennials are a deeper, more loyal bunch than many assume. I mean, just look outside the loyalty sphere for a minute. This is a generation that cares more about social values, are more economically aware and, on average, are more intelligent (well, supposedly). Taking in all of the above, I think it becomes apparent there’s not a lot of longevity in the lure of the likes of a cash offer that can be activated at any time, regardless of how quickly it can be delivered.
To me, the millennial answer lies in experiences.
This is where I think the commonalities across all generations really start to emerge as, across a pretty big cross-section of brands, we’ve seen that 87% of large companies stated customer experience efforts had a positive business impact.
And this makes sense – we all just want to feel valued. It’s just that millennials might expect it a little more, most likely because it’s all they’ve ever known with so many brands vying for their attention.
The takeaway from the above is that experiences need to play a driving role in your loyalty program to not just entice millennials but everyone else too!
At IC Group, we offer promotional program experiences with our in-house instant win, sweepstakes, and chance-to-win games.
We allow you to grow by taking your digital activities to the next level – delivering them in engaging and exciting ways that are instantly gratifying. All this amounts to showing the effort to woo your consumers and making them feel more valued; in turn, this will help to gain their loyalty.
So what I want you to ponder is that millennials aren’t that different to older generations. Attracting them to a loyalty program might require some different tactics, but the premise of keeping them as a valued fan of your brand is as much the same as it is with a Baby Boomer or any other generation – make people feel valued by providing unique, relevant experiences in all aspects of your program.
We’re all human, after all.
I’m the VP of Sales at IC Group and loyalty program strategist.
I’d love to get your take on this article. To talk more, you can email me at email@example.com