Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Marketing to Millennials: Brand Loyalty

There are brands I love. And there are brands I buy from.Brand loyalty. Millennials have it. But not the way you think we do... And not just because of social media.

You may be surprised to find that the two are not mutually exclusive.

I love E.L.F. makeup. Their goals and ethics speak to me. Their prices are unbeatable. They don’t do a lot of traditional advertising. The videos they offer are informational, highlighting their products and not simply featuring idealized celebrities pitching their products. But I buy makeup from other brands alongside E.L.F.


I can just see you wrinkling your nose. I am clearly passionate about E.L.F. makeup. So where’s my brand loyalty right? Well, there are some items that other brands make that I simply like better. I like L’Oreal’s foundation. I like Miracle Gel’s nail polish. Different brands fit different needs in my life.

There are articles right now pushing businesses to “get social” because it encourages brand loyalty in Millennials. Articles have been and continue to claim so many Millennials admit they’re more likely to buy from brands that engage with them on social media. There are a few caveats these articles forget to mention.

Defining brand loyalty

Brand-loyalty-definedFirst what is brand loyalty? Another one of those buzzwords that I think, over time, has gotten muddled.

Brand Loyalty: The habit of always buying a product with the same name, made by the same company.

So, just to defend myself, I do have brand loyalty to E.L.F. makeup… For certain products. And for specific reasons. So stop judging me.

But, back on topic, think about the different products you buy. Do you always get certain ones from the same brand? Yes? Okay, now the truly important question: Why? Why do you continue to return to that brand? Think about another product with which you have brand loyalty… Is your why for the same reason? No? So it’s fair to say then that we’re loyal to different brands for different reasons.

Millennials have brand loyalty…

But assuming you have to engage us on social media to gain our loyalty… That’s just ridiculous. There are other reasons for me to feel a loyalty to your brand. There are other ways to develop that loyalty. As you were thinking about the brands you’re loyal to, I’m sure you had other reasons outside of social media. Those reasons could include but are not limited to:

  • You grew up using the brand (why I still use Crest toothpaste)
  • You’ve tried every option and that particular brand just makes the best product
  • You have a personal relationship with someone associated with the brand
  • A friend or family member recommends the brand
  • Your friends use that brand (yes, no matter how old we get we still like to be a part of the crowd)
  • The brand creates products that just fit your budget (A big one for the younger Millennials)
  • The brand has demonstrated values that match your own

But Alex, I hear you say, social media is just another avenue to brand loyalty. Well yes, but you just changed social media from a priority for businesses to a potential marketing tool. I’m watching small businesses scramble to learn social media and “engage” Millennials. I’m wondering if a)The millennials they’re targeting even use the social media platform they’re learning, b)If social media is the best marketing tool to gain brand loyalty, and c)If they realize that simply “using” social media doesn’t guarantee brand loyalty?

What does this mean for my marketing?brand-loyalty-millennials

I’m making the claim that not all businesses need social media to develop brand loyalty in Millennials. Do a little market research. Ask your current clients/customers why they use your products or services. Then, double down. If they grew up using your brand, nostalgia marketing is the way to go. Remind them their loyalty to your brand is because they grew up with your brand. You don’t necessarily need to get social to do that.

A brand refresh could do the trick. If you notice most of your clients are coming from friend/family recommendations, then a referral program is a good route. This also doesn’t require social media.

Think of social media as a potential marketing tool… Not a requirement.

Because even when it comes to Millennials, you don’t have to be social to gain our loyalty… And just because we are loyal to one brand, doesn’t mean we won’t still buy your products.

Agree? Disagree? Skipped the middle and just read the beginning and end of this post so, slightly confused? Let me know in the comments!

Catch up on the rest of the series:



About the author

Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales

As a millennial who has also worked in social media marketing and management for the last 2 years, Alex really has the best of both worlds: As a millennial she knows what they want and how they communicate and as a social media marketer she is able to take that knowledge and put it to use for businesses. Of course, finishing up a Master's Degree in Communication doesn't hurt either, helping her understand the significance of context, channel, and messaging. She writes to encourage conversations that help others develop actionable branding strategies but more importantly, encourage conversations about the social media landscape today and how to best navigate it.

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