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Digital Natives Are Tired of Brands Shouting at Them: New Lithium Study Offers a More Productive Approach

Brand loyalty, brand targeting, brand trust, digital natives, Harris Poll, Lithium Technologies, Marketing, marketing to Gen Z, marketing to Millennials, Pr, Public relations, Rob Tarkoff, social media feeds, Social media marketingYounger Generations Gravitate to Information They Find On Their Own

Brands are eagerly trying to build trust and loyalty with consumers in the U.S. through social media, but it appears many may be missing the mark—a whopping three quarters of Millennials and Gen Z object to being targeted by brands in their social media feeds, according to a new Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies, of 2,000 consumers across generations. In fact, 56 percent of these digital natives report cutting back or actually stopping use of social media sites entirely due to advertisements in their news feed.

Results reveal that direct targeting on social via ads can actually lose you customers, and that a far more effective method of reaching today’s digital generations is to be present on the channels they frequent, and let them seek you out.

“Pushing out ads on social media is the surest way for brands to alienate consumers, especially the younger generations who make up more than 50 percent of the population,” said Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO of Lithium Technologies, in a news release. “That’s a lot of purchasing power, and it’s only going to grow as these generations reach their prime spending years. The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.”

“I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look,” said 23-year-old recent graduate Mallory Benham, according to the release. “Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.”

Today’s younger consumers, raised almost entirely in the digital era, are much more likely to trust information they seek out themselves—whether on blogs, websites or online communities. The survey indicates where younger and older generations place their trust in online sources.

Where’s the Trust?
Source Younger Generations ( Gen Z and millennials) Older Generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers)
Online sites with Product Reviews  (e.g., Amazon, Yelp) 85% 66%
Company/Manufacturer web sites 66% 44%
Communities of like-minded individuals (e.g., chat rooms, forums, user groups) 65% 44%
People they follow online 57% 31%
Social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) 53% 29%
Celebrity endorsements 40% 28%

Trust in online sources is fairly strong across generations but the results show that the younger, digital natives tend to place more trust in them—something brands need to bear in mind as Millennials and Gen Z mature.

Millennials and Gen Z comprise over 50 percent of the population, so meeting their expectations should be of utmost importance to brands. When Millennials reach out online, 79 percent of them expect a response back within the same day, compared to only 73 percent for Gen X and 71 percent for Baby Boomers. Brands who are not actively responding, monitoring and engaging with their customers online stand to lose them and jeopardize brand loyalty.

“Social implies a two-way conversation and that means paying attention and participating,” said Tarkoff.  “Brands who break that contract are going to lose a generation of customers.”

The adult portion of this survey was conducted online within the United States from January 19-21, 2016among 2,057 adults ages 18 and older, by Harris Poll on behalf of Lithium Technologies via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

The youth portion of this survey was conducted online within the United States from January 19-29, 2016 among 317 youths ages 16-18, by Harris Poll on behalf of Lithium Technologies via its YouthQuery omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, school urbanicity, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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