Understanding Centennial Values
The Centennial generation represents a new, thriving force in the current marketplace. However, along with this new presence in the market come differing values and expectations. Indeed, Centennials differ quite drastically from previous generations. They hold to different values, advocate for different causes, and expect different behavior from the brands they engage with. These significant distinctions within the Centennial generation result in the need for brands to rethink their marketing strategies if they wish to successfully engage this young and passionate generation.
In order to reach Centennials, brands must understand the different values that Centennials hold to. One such value that is especially important to Centennials is social activism. This activism seems to stem from the increasingly turbulent political atmosphere that Centennials are growing up in. As this political and social climate becomes increasingly uncertain and unstable, Centennials are nonetheless still advocating for the causes they value. Regardless of the external influences, Centennials are passionate about standing up for what they believe in, even if these views are unpopular.
While still being a passionate generation, Centennials prefer to promote their causes in a rational, logical manner. Rather than advocating for a social cause from an emotional point of view, Centennials believe that a practical mindframe can be more effective than pure emotion, a mindset that further differentiates the Centennial generation from previous generations.
In order for brands to succeed in the current marketplace, they must be able to build allegiance with consumers. Brand allegiance ensures not only that Centennials will engage with brands but also that this engagement will transform into a long-term relationship between brand and consumer. Because of their passion for transparency, Centennials want to engage only with brands that they trust and connect with. In essence, they want to be able to resonate with brands.
Therefore, in order to accomplish building this brand allegiance, brands should focus on creating a cohesive, meaningful brand message that conveys their brand purpose. For Centennials, what a brand does is not as important as why they do it. Consequently, brands must maintain the utmost transparency with consumers when defining and conveying their purpose.
Another factor at the heart of building allegiance with Centennial consumers is value. For Centennials, determining value is a complex, oftentimes subjective, issue with numerous external factors. However, there are several general aspects that can mean the difference between brand allegiance and brand extinction. Such factors that can foster brand allegiance include excellent product quality, positive user reviews, product sustainability and environmental impact, and cost effectiveness.
Since Centennials are a largely pragmatic generation, brands must make certain that their products reflect this pragmatism and practicality. Offering well-made, cost-efficient products is one of the most important steps in building this crucial brand allegiance.
Expressing Brand Values
As previously mentioned, Centennials’ practical nature results in their desire for an economically and socially responsible product. However, their passion for social activism manifests itself in the fact that Centennials want to engage with brands that take a public stand on key social issues. According to a 2017 report conducted by Kantar Futures based on U.S. government research, the top five issues that Centennials care about are education, government corruption, racism, access to health insurance, and crime.
Consequently, in order to reach Centennials, brands should take a public stand on a key issue, thereby further establishing a significant brand purpose. While a brand’s public promotion of a social cause will allow Centennials to better resonate with a brand’s message and purpose, brands must avoid manipulating Centennials’ passion for social justice. Centennials want brand transparency even if it makes a brand not appear especially appealing. While your brand may not be a social justice entity, Centennial consumers would rather engage with a transparent brand than a falsely compassionate one.