How Generation Y will reshape customer loyalty

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on October 13, 2011

Representing more than 1.7 billion consumers worldwide, of which 77 million are in the US, the so-called 'Millennial' generation (aka. 'Generation Y') is presenting marketers with some new challenges and changes as it comes of age and takes the reins of the global consumer economy, according to a study by Aimia (formerly Groupe Aeroplan).

To compare the attitudes and behaviours of Millennials with older consumers, Aimia commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct an online study of more than 6,000 consumers in Canada, the UK, and the US. The study concluded that Millennial consumers will certainly change the way companies and brands build sustainable customer loyalty.

"The US Millennial generation is bigger than the Baby Boomer generation, and is three times the size of Generation X," explained Rick Ferguson, vice president of knowledge development for Aimia. "With Baby Boomers retiring, it's critically important for marketers to understand how Millennial attitudes toward technology, data privacy and rewards will change the way brands build strong, profitable relationships with their best customers."

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Loyalty Behaviours
    More than three-quarters (77%) of US Millennial consumers claim participation in loyalty and reward programmes, compared to four in five (82%) non-Millennials consumers.

    More than three-quarters (78%) of US Millennials are more likely to choose a brand that offers a loyalty or reward programme over a brand that doesn't offer one.

    In unprompted responses, US Millennials rate loyalty rewards as the top incentive they look for in exchange for sharing personal information with marketers.

    Nearly half of US Millennials (44%) are willing to promote products or brands through social media in exchange for rewards.

    When introduced to the concept of a US coalition loyalty programme, 74% of Millennials and 87% of older consumers rate the ability to earn a common currency among multiple partners as their top desired loyalty programme benefit.

  • Mobile Technology
    US Millennials are sceptical of the value of location-based marketing offers delivered via smart phone, with only one in ten (13%) claiming to have responded to such an offer.

    Using a mobile device as a substitute for carrying a plastic loyalty card is the top requested mobile payment application for Millennials, (26% express interest); meanwhile, only one in ten (13%) express interest in using a mobile device as a credit or debit card.

  • Privacy
    US Millennials are significantly less concerned than non-Millennials with data privacy and security overall. Of all named marketing channels in the survey, loyalty and reward programmes are perceived as the most privacy-friendly by Millennials: only 14% of Millennial loyalty programme members are concerned about sharing personal information with loyalty programmes.

    Nearly half of US Millennials (47%) agree that they're more likely to share personal details with a brand that offers loyalty and reward incentives.

"Millennials are even more willing to participate in loyalty and reward programmes than their parents, but they expect reward programmes to be free, easy and fast," concluded Ferguson. "This generation also relies heavily on outside information to make purchase decisions - information that is often out of the realm of control for marketers. The winners in building sustainable brand loyalty with Millennials will be those who break through the information overload to deliver value at the level of the individual customer."

The first part of the study, entitled 'Born This Way: The US Millennial Loyalty Survey', examines Millennial consumers in the US, and subsequent parts covering the UK and Canada are to be released soon.

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