Brands across categories increase millennial loyalty with insightful marketing
The right celebrity makes a difference
Millennials worldwide strongly influence brands and brand growth. The millennial influence in China is especially acute because these young people, born since the period of economic liberalization that began over 35 years ago, grew up in a much more affluent and brand-conscious China than their parents.
Our Kantar TNS research shows that Chinese Millennials value individuality, desire immediate gratification, seek novel experiences, enjoy online self-expression, and fear failure. Using BrandZ™ data we ranked Chinese brands based on increased loyalty among Millennials between 2014 and 2016.
We found that the brands that increased most in millennial loyalty include a mixture of brands that rank in BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017 and smaller brands. We also found that brands can increase millennial loyalty across diverse categories, including: mobile handsets, insurance, internet portal, healthcare, food and dairy, beer, personal care, and retail.
The mobile phone handset brand OPPO led the millennial ranking with a 157 percent increase in loyalty between 2014 and 2016, followed by two insurance companies: New China Life Insurance and CITIC Prudential.
Increasing millennial loyalty requires understanding what attributes they seek in brands.
Consumers of all ages want products or services that offer quality, are trustworthy, and help make their lives better. Millennials are more likely to favor brands that are famous or trendy, while older consumers may look for brands that confer status or advance social responsibility.
The right celebrity can help communicate these attributes. Millennials are more receptive to celebrities who are close to them in age. And compared with older Chinese consumers, who favor celebrities from Taiwan and Hong Kong, younger Chinese consumers are more likely to respond to celebrities from Mainland China, Japan, or Korea because their favorite entertainment originates in these places.
Harbin Beer is among the brands that increased millennial loyalty with a comprehensive marketing program. Recently, the brand’s celebrity endorsers included Taiwanese rock star Chen-Yue Chang, and Sitar Tan, a popular Chinese singer in her mid-thirties. In its sponsorship of the World Cup, Harbin employed a diverse group of celebrities to relate meaningfully on social media with various segments of the millennial audience. The brand also sponsors a beer festival. The perception of Harbin Beer as fun and playful rose significantly between 2015 and 2016.
OPPO sponsored TV programs that appeal to millennials and populated its ads with young people. The brand also used subtle product placement in which characters in TV dramas used OPPO mobile phones in ways that reinforced brand strengths, such as long battery life. New China Life Insurance collaborated with travel sites that are popular with millennials. Insurance brands also collaborated with relevant charity websites to reach millennials, a demographic group not traditionally associated with insurance.
Millennials are influential consumers in China, as they are in most countries. Their relevance in China is especially critical, however. They tend to be more open to purchasing a range of brands than their parents or grandparents, but they also influence the spending of the older generations. Reaching this demographic group is important for brands across product categories. Mobile phone and beer brands might be expected to appear on a millennial loyalty ranking, but two insurance brands made the list, indicating an opportunity for diverse brands to establish their relevance to millennials.
Attitude is important. Brands must be genuine. Millennials can discern when brands deeply understand their needs, concerns, and preferences, and when they are just pretending. Young people like to see their lives portrayed in media. As they transition to adult life and struggle to identify and reach their aspirations, real-life examples reassure young people and help them navigate their journeys. Empathetic brands will be appreciated, especially when they communicate on the right medium. Live casting is popular. It creates Internet celebrities and helps young people feel interconnected as a generation. Finally, do not forget the younger siblings of these millennials. These teenagers have spending power, interest in brands, and are the next generation of consumers.
Millennial brand loyalty crosses categories…
Brands of varying size and from many categories can increase the loyalty of millennial consumers.
… Millennials favor brands that are famous or trendy…
All brands need to offer a product or service that offers quality, is trustworthy, and helps make people’s lives better. After that, millennials are more likely to favor brands that are famous or trendy.
… And millennials respond to particular celebrities
Millennials are more receptive to celebrities that are close to them in age. And compared with older Chinese consumers, who favored celebrities from Taiwan and Hong Kong, young Chinese are more likely to respond to celebrities from Mainland China, Japan, or Korea.