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Millennial consumer behavior: Socially driven and socially conscious

Millennials, long stereotyped as lazy and entitled, are now (mostly) gainfully employed and in their 20s and 30s, a growing force in the economy with unprecedented buying power. Financial estimates are that the 80 million millennials in the United States alone spend about $200 billion every year, and that number is climbing.

Millennials, long stereotyped as lazy and entitled, are now (mostly) gainfully employed and in their 20s and 30s, a growing force in the economy with unprecedented buying power. Financial estimates are that the 80 million millennials in the United States alone spend about $200 billion every year, and that number is climbing.

But how do they spend it, and what do they spend it on? Forbes partnered with Elite Daily last year to survey 1,300 millennials about their consumer habits and preferences, and what they found are good indicators for what businesses need to do to attract this crowd, and gain its long-term loyalty.

A personal voice means more than a branded message. Only 1 percent of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Instead, they head to blogs when looking for opinions about a particular company or product, trusting the personal voice — especially when it’s written by someone of their generation — over a company’s corporate or sponsored message.

They want engagement on social media. Millennials might not be swayed by a company’s paid advertisement, but they do respond to its social media presence, and they expect a brand or business to engage with them online. Such responsiveness and openness breeds brand loyalty, millennials say, which means businesses should make the extra effort to be active — and authentic — on social networks, engaging with the audience rather than merely tweeting (and retweeting) emotionless ad copy that’s void of personality.

They are brand loyal. While tech-savvy and trend-setting, millennials don’t fall for the “next big thing” — unless that next big thing is being produced by a brand to which they’re already loyal. Sixty percent of those surveyed said they’re often or always loyal to a brand they’ve already purchased. It seems once you hook a consumer of this generation, they’ll stick with you for the long haul — unless you ignore your audience, of course.

They want you to pay it forward. A whopping 75 percent said it’s important that a company give some of its profits back in the form of charity efforts or local community development. Greed is bad in their eyes, so having a proven track record of giving back could actually add to your returns in the long run.

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