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Survey: Digital and social spend may be overrated

Brands have spent countless millions of dollars on digital, mobile, and social websites, apps, and advertising in order to attract the loyalty of Millennials (remember them?). A new global survey by YouGov and GT Nexus, however, found that despite this spend 61 percent of Millennials have ditched one of their favorite brands for another. Does this result mean that digital and social spend is overrated? Let's look at the numbers.
 
The survey of 1955 Millennials in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States found that only 6 percent of respondents globally cited absence on social media or a poor website experience as reasons for their switching, while only 5 percent cited the lack of a mobile app. The most likely reasons for switching? Product quality (40%) or the unavailabilty of a brand in-store or online are cited as the primary reasons that Millennials dump a brand for a competitor. Money quote from Guy Courtin, vice president at GT Nexus:
 
"When we think of millennials we think of their attention being drawn to cool, edgy and flashy. These survey results paint a different picture. This describes a demographic that's more concerned with what goes on behind the scenes of a brand, how they produce goods or operate, opposed to being drawn to flash and sizzle such as apps and website."
The survey is not without an agenda; GT Nexus is a supply chain management software company, so it's no surprise that its conclusions drawn from the survey data recommend investing more heavily in backend operations. We may also debate whether or not providing a compelling digital experience amounts to nothing more than "flash and sizzle." That said, the survey's attention to the importance of providing ethically sourced and environmentally-friendly products - 47 percent of Millennials surveyed cited these concerns as reasons for switching apparel brands, for example - is welcome.
 
And of course, we might also point out that much digital and social spend is focused on programmatic ad-buying, retargeting, and discounting. Absent a customer strategy focused on building long-term, profitable relationships, no amount of digital or social spend is likely to cement Millennial loyalty. To build loyalty, you must first demonstrate it.