Building Consumers into Brand Ambassadors

Building BAsWhen contemplating the purchase of a new product or service, Millennials rely heavily on word of mouth recommendations from those they trust most: friends and family.  It is important for them to connect with a brand to be able to build a sense of trust. Once this relationship has been established, brands will see an increase in social experiences with conversations taking place, posts being shared and a stronger community in general (another important reason to keep company social pages active!).
With 84% of Millennials claiming that they do not trust traditional marketing (according to a study conducted by the McCarthy Group), creating relatable, shareable and impactful marketing strategies is a great way to recruit organic brand ambassadors.  A popular tactic is to align brand values with those of the consumer when possible.  Adding environmentally conscious or locally sourced claims to products are a great way to grab the attention of the socially-aware consumer.  Millennials have an increased desire to support socially responsible businesses compared to their parents and grandparents.  A recent survey of entrepreneurs by Big Green Opportunity, found that 80% saw an increase in sales after introducing more eco friendly offerings. Millennials are looking to be a part of something bigger than simply buying and wearing. If a portion of their purchase will help those in need or help the development of their local community, they want to know about it.  Consider TOMS’ One for One purchase model – this concept promotes a give back initiative on the buyers’ behalf, by donating a pair of shoes to someone in an impoverished country for every pair purchased.
Another piece of advice offered to marketers is to be where your market is.  In the case of Millennials, it’s online.  Direct engagement with new and existing customers helps build relationships that lead to strong brand loyalty.  In a survey conducted by Forbes Magazine, 62% of Millennials said they were more likely to become a loyal customer to a brand that engages with them on social media.  It takes more than shiny advertisements and innovative gadgets to win over this generation – they want to know that their opinions are being heard and valued.
Who better to turn to for ideas and feedback than the ones you plan to market to?  Reaching out to Millennials to have a hand in the creation of an advertisement, product or campaign gives them the feeling that they are a part of the development process.  Tim Hortons is a great example of this, getting donut lovers across Canada involved in the flavour design process by allowing them to customize their own donut with a user-friendly online tool. After over 60,000 submissions, the flavours with the most user votes were put to the test at an in-person final competition.  The designers of the two winning flavours received $10,000 and got to see their creations sold in Tim Horton’s stores. Talk about every Tim’s-loving Canadian’s dream!  This was a great way to let customers decide what they wanted to see in stores, created a buzz around the brand and allowed households across the country to engage directly with customers.
Making a personal connection with Millennials can be as simple as posting a call out for feedback on Facebook, gathering input through a poll or even inviting them to submit potential packaging designs.  Including Millennials in the conversation leads to further conversations with their friends, followers or readers – which ultimately creates further brand reach.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – a traditional sales pitch is no longer the only way to gain Millennial customers. If their closest friends (or favourite celebrities) aren’t vouching for a new product, they aren’t likely to give it a shot either.  In order to keep them coming back, listen to what they want and respond directly to a few of those Tweets.  You’ll be glad you did when you have a trusty band of ambassadors to act as champions of your brand.