Loyalty and the Y Generation


Loyalty and the Y Generation: When it comes to Brand Trust and Loyalty, Gen Y is Different

Gen Y is different. When it comes to brand trust and loyalty they are vastly different from their parents. They have single-handedly flipped the marketing model upside down. Lifetime trust to a brand is for the most part, over. They don’t trust brands or the marketing companies put behind them. When you consider that Gen Y is the fastest growing generation in the marketplace you can understand why this is creating a quandary for marketers.

1. The Relationship

Gen Y’ers trust their family, their friends, and their social networks. According to research, 1/3 of Gen Y members do not make major purchasing decisions without consulting their friends, family and social networks first. If you are not recommended, you are not proven to Gen Y. How do you enter in a relationship with them? Courting! Yes, it sounds silly but approaching Gen Y the same way you would a new personal relationship may pay off.

  • First Impressions- Whether online or in-person, first impressions count. This has always been the case and always will be. Your marketing message should be consistent throughout. Quite often the first impression of a product within the social media arena does not match the in-person experience. It can be compared to the online dating nightmares you often hear about. Instant turn off!
  • Take it Slow- The hard sell does not work with Gen Y. It could result in an instant dump! Court them by interacting with them. A blog is a great way to interact and introduce yourself to Gen Y. Unlike their parents, Gen Y will engage and comment.  At the end of the day be “real”, send them information, ask them questions and answer their questions. But…don’t be pushy or creepy. Nobody likes a stalker.
  • Do you Come Recommended by a Friend or Family Member? – If not, you are irrelevant, not proven, and cannot be trusted. Don’t worry, there is another way in and that is through brand users and their generated content. User generated content is priceless. Why? There are times that Gen Y finds more credibility in user generated content than the opinions of their family and friends. Let’s face it—we don’t always agree with our friends and family and we don’t always share their same likes and dislikes either.  User generated content is unbiased and golden. If you have it, show it off!

The banking industry has taken a hard hit when it comes to brand trust with Gen Y. This generation is skeptical about handing over their hard-earned money and for good reasons. Unfortunate events have damaged the relationship between banks and their Gen Y customers. According to a study by the Aite Group, a research and advisory firm, more than 1 in 5 members of this cohort reported decreased trust level in banks. “People feel like they’re getting bombarded with irrelevant offers. The one-size-fits-all approach is being replaced with extensive social media campaigns featuring members of Gen Y as spokespeople and customized offers that focus on the new frugal mind-set,” says Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite.

Gen Y is different and their trust must be earned and sometimes re-earned.  

2. The NOW Factor!

Whatever it is, you can be sure that they want it NOW! Gen Y’ers are early adopters and they love to own the latest and the coolest of everything. When their world is moving at lightning speed, the “now factor” will push them to switch brands at the blink of an eye. This can work for or against a company. They utilize social media channels to give or receive feedback—then they make their moves. They are masters of this environment and thrive here. They are everywhere and engaging them in multiple social media channels is important. Just this week, American Express added Twitter to their social media program.

American Express is embracing the power of social media channels. Their most recent program launch with Twitter works like this: Cardholders go to sync.americanexpress.com/twitter to sync their card with their Twitter account. Then, when they tweet various “special offer” hashtags (like “#amexcoffee” for instance), couponless savings are loaded onto their cards.


In the Gen Y NOW world, the brand message is “passed along” virally through word-of-mouth via a Facebook message, Wall post or SMS text message. Will your brand be included in their message?

3. The Customer Experience

I have a friend who purchases milk from a local dairy for her family. She often talks about the experience of it all –  Tweets and posts on Facebook. I would label her a Promoter. I never really understood the significance of her “customer experience” until now. Here is how she describes it:

“My kids love it when it is time to go to the dairy to get our milk. It is a 20 minute drive from our home that involves a lot of mooing along the way as we ramp up to the big event. As the large silos appear in the distance my two year old son begins to repeat the words “moo cow milk” over and over again. He is overcome with excitement! We make the turn onto a gravel road and the faithful farm dogs follow us to the milk shed. It is a small cinder block building with a rickety door. It is old—but immaculate! I sit in the car while my 7 year old son goes in and purchases the milk. Inside there are two large refrigerators, a small table with a notepad, pencil and a metal money box on top. There is no cashier—payment is made using the honor system. Yes, the honor system! You make your own change.  

My son writes down his name, the amount of gallons purchased, the total amount paid and then places the money in the box. All of this takes place while my 2 year old is mooing back and forth with his favorite cow. It is often the highlight of our week. Every visit is a different experience but always a good one. I am sure they have hundreds of customers but we are always greeted by our first name—all of us. One time I pulled in with a different vehicle and the owner came out to greet us thinking that we might be a new customer. Periodically they will make homemade cookies and leave them inside for us. It is the best $5 experience of our week and we can’t get back there fast enough. I tell ALL of my friends about this place. It might cost me $20 in gas to purchase a $5 gallon of milk but it is worth every penny!” A Loyal Customer

Gen Y is different. They look to others to feel confident about their buying decisions. They are 3X more likely than their parents to turn to social media on opinions to buy and trust in a brand. Lead Gen Y to an unforgettable customer experience and they will deliver your message!!

What brand experiences excite you? Who do you trust? We would love to hear from you!