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Millennials Shout for Brands but Don’t Listen in Social Spaces

I admit that the headline here may be a little harsh but if the data that is being presented by a study performed by Edelman is any indication it seems to ring true. Millennials are those folks born between 1980 and 1995. There is apparently a push to name this group the 8095ers but I vote right now to remove that because its just plain dumb. Anyway, back to the data.

eMarketer tells us about the survey and how Millennials build and use their relationships with brands in the online space. First the overall take is that they like to share their opinions online.

They like to share their opinions online for sure as the article even says:

As the report explains, that makes brand preference a top personal identifier for millennials online—alongside such information as religion and ethnicity.

“This research suggests a link between the immersive, symbiotic relationship 8095ers have with social networking channels and the likelihood to define their personal brand by aligning with the brands they favor,” said the report.

So now in honor of the World Series, here’s the wind up and the disconnect. The chart below shows that while Millennials will define themselves and align themselves with brands online they don’t use the online space to get information about what to buy at even close to the same rate as they like to spout off. In fact, they trust friends and family to help them and not those in the social space.

All this does is continue to support one of the troubling trends that we see with the 30 and under crowd and the online space. It appears that they think they are contributing and defining things by putting their opinions out there with relative ease. The trouble is they don’t necessarily trust what others are saying so it’s almost like online activism. It’s real easy to be ‘involved’ but only on the most superficial level. It’s the “Hey, look over here at who I am and I don’t really care who you are! Have a nice day!” mind set.

How do you see this kind of ‘involvement” where one of the most popular activities involves telling the world what you are through what you use, wear etc but turning around and having little trust in that same arena to provide value when you need help? It’s a very one way in approach and is likely one of the reasons why we have a lot of “echo chamber” like areas on the social web.

What’s your take on this? Is there a disconnect? Do you find it strange that something is used by so many and then trusted by so few to help?

  • http://twitter.com/jareddegnan Jared D.

    I think the online activism analogy is right on the money. The question is; does all that noise still help to influence? Studies have shown that even though television ads don’t carry much “authority” they’re still marginally effective in promoting brand awareness. What these numbers seem to show us is that Mellenials (of which, I am aparently one) aren’t ignoring social mentions of brands but just aren’t taking them as gospel.

    Also, though I agree with the basic findings, I would assume that the results of the Edelman study are based on self-reporting. In that case, I would say that the last chart reflects the FINAL decision but not the process leading up to consideration of options. If the question was “What information sources do you use to make decisions?” the results would probably confirm that Mellenials take a great deal of information into consideration from online sources but may turn to family and friends to make a final decision.

  • Andy Hollandbeck

    I followed a few clicks, but I couldn’t find more specific info about how this information was obtained. What I notice is that there seems to be some overlap in the categories — especially the “Friends” category. What, after all, do you call the people your network with on Facebook? That’s right: friends. People may be using social media to get information from their real-life friends (or perceived friends, or even family) and not seeing it as using “social media” to make their decision. The results, then, would be skewed against “social media.”

  • Renee Bonjour

    Falling into that Millennial category myself, I will agree that this generation is quick to spout off their preferences and opinions utilizing the online social space.

    What bothers me about the data that analyzes the leading sources used to make major decisions (much like Andy mentions in the comment above) is that it doesn’t seem to account for overlap within the spaces of family/friends and social networks. I see this as a large blind spot. While many will naturally go to family or friends when contemplating a decision, I think the social networks serve as a platform to connect. So really, at least how I see it, these can’t be solely viewed as separate entities. Our social lives with family and friends are also intertwined in the online social space as well as traditional communication channels.

    I think there is more value in the social media space for referring sources than the above cut-and-dry data analysis would lead the casual observer to believe.