Millennials and trust: Opportunity or demise?

Even after all the name calling (narcissistic, lazy, and indecisive- as described in a NY Times article) marketers are recognizing the potential of Millennials as something important to their bottom line. Afterall, these are the consumers that will drive our economy for the decades ahead.

Some key facts uncovered by the Pew Institute:

Roughly 43% of Millennials are non-white, the highest share of any generation. This trend was driven by a wave of Hispanic and Asian immigrants who immigrated to the U.S. for the past half century. Their U.S. born children are now becoming adults.
About half of newborns in America today are non-white, and the Census Bureau projects that the full U.S. population will be majority non-white by 2043.
Racial makeup of Millennials is a key driver in explaining this segment’s political liberalism, yet it is not the only factor. Across a range of political and ideological measures, white Millennials, somewhat less liberal than the non-whites of their generation, are more liberal than the whites in older generations.
19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, compared with 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents, and 40% of Boomers.

What is somewhat alarming, is that Millennials have emerged into adulthood with low levels of social trust. Millennial racial diversity may partly explain their low levels of social trust. A 2007 Pew study discovered that minorities and low-income adults had lower levels of social trust than any other group. The research finds that people who feel vulnerable or disadvantaged, find it riskier to trust because “they’re less well-fortified to deal with the consequences of misplaced trust.” Remember, the average financial institution’s consumer model is likely based on the baby boom generation.

Millennials are also the first market segment in modern history to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations (Gen Xers and Boomers). Unlike previous generations, they don’t want to follow the career footsteps of their parents, as they have seen the impact of the great recession on their parents.

Earning trust from Millennials will be no easy task. But we do know that they trust people over brands. Without any consumer input, Millennials don’t tend to buy anything. When shopping, most of them look for user-generated content to help them buy. Keep in mind that Millennials are very social and do want to share, so it’s in your best interest to get them talking and responding.

Here are some ways you can start building Millennial trust by leveraging user-generated content:

Put member opinions front and center. Let shoppers know you want their opinions, and display them everywhere in the purchase or sales cycle. Remember, Millennials won’t buy until they get trusted information.
Show Millennials opinions from people who matter most to them. Give them the insights from experts or ambassadors, people like them.
Always take action on Millennials’ suggestions. We all want to be heard. When you improve products or change policies based on first-person consumer input, spread the word. Create two-way conversations that build loyalty. And make sure you follow-up on App reviews.

For brands to survive, they’ll need to capture Millennial goodwill. Just don’t forget, the average Millennial buys ideas, beliefs, and products from people, not businesses.

Bryan Clagett

Bryan Clagett

Bryan is on the executive team and singularly focused on driving revenue growth through a variety of new initiatives that help financial services and fintech become ever more relevant to ... Web: Details