As most brands know, building trust with a consumer is essential. Consider that Millennials have been raised in an era that's demonstrated there is little that can be trusted. They've learned through experience that they can't trust the economy, corporations, our security system, government or even the integrity of their sports heroes.
We are entering an unprecedented age of responsibility, and to establish trust with Millennials, brands are going to be held more accountable for their actions, their transparency and their effect on the planet. While many Americans, Gen Y especially, are becoming less brand-loyal, seeking only what best meets their needs at the moment, with the right actions and communications, brands can not only retain but also grow the trust they have with this generation.
Here are six things to consider for building trust with Millennials:
- A strong social media presence is essential. A recent GFK study found that 45% of Millennials believe online reviews give trustworthy information on what products or services to buy and the same was true for online communities. In both cases, they were far more trusted than a company's own website. In fact, Millennials are more likely to trust information from a blog they regularly read than an email from someone they know. To build trust, brands must learn how to engage and optimize these online conversations.
- Be transparent and act openly and responsibly. This generation wants to be respected for their smarts and their judgment. They feel they are an equal in any relationship, including the one they have with a brand. If you betray their trust, admit it and immediately correct the behavior. It's a good lesson for Toyota.
- Invest in your brand. Gen Y is more likely than other generations to trust individual brands over a company or corporation. They prefer the familiar-even at the height of the recession, GFK found that Gen Y chose brand over price in the majority of categories studied. When it comes to trust, this can serve a brand well. For example, in the eyes of a Millennial, Scion is a separate brand and shouldn't be affected by Toyota's safety issues.
- Acknowledge their life stages. They were all born between 1977 and 1990, but Millennials are not all in the same life stage and you will build trust by acknowledging their place in life and recognizing the critical events that encompass their sense of being. You can create experiences that recognize them as having a first home, a first career, a first spouse or a first child. Brands like Kellogg's help Gen Y moms manage their snack time nutrition with key insights that can be shared with others and State Farm's Gen Y site, nowwhat.com, illustrates life stage moments when insurance is needed.
- Make it their own. Gen Y seeks out opportunities to personalize and customize their experiences. Enabling them to demonstrate their individuality in a meaningful way shares power with your consumer and will ultimately build trust in your brand. Puma's Mongolian Shoe BBQ, which enables consumers to design their own shoes, is a great example of this.
- Show that you do good. This generation is more socially conscious than any other. They take a stand for causes. Trust can be built by creating natural links between a brand and a cause, and by making it effortless for Millennials to support a cause or share a message. Capital One does a nice of job of this by enabling consumers to donate their "rewards" to a charity.
In this new age of responsibility, the brands that Millennials trust will most likely be the brands that are transparent, speak to them as individuals, invite participation and generally do good things in the world.