Ethics rather than fancy apps turn millennials on: Survey

By David Burrows

- Last updated on GMT

 © iStock/Ridofranz
© iStock/Ridofranz

Related tags: Supply chain management

It’s ethics and environmental performance rather than snazzy apps and Facebooking that can win millennials over, according to a survey of young consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the US.

Shoppers aged 18 to 34 years old are more than happy to ditch their favourite brands at the drop of a hat, with 61% having switched in the past 12 months, pollsters at YouGov found.

The research, commissioned by supply chain management firm GT Nexus, also revealed that the category they’re most likely to ‘brand hop’ in is food and drink (47%). UK consumers are the most likely to ditch their favourite food and drink brands (56%), followed by those in the US (49%), France (45%) and Germany (40%).

Poor quality and lack of availability were the top two reasons for disloyalty, cited by 41% and 36% of respondents respectively. Unfair treatment of workers (25%) and concerns that the brand was not ‘environmentally friendly’ (21%) followed closely behind, way ahead of factors that many assume are important to this demographic.

In fact just 6% said that a poor profile on social media or a less-than-cool website was the reason for them switching brands, whilst 5% said they’d ditched a favourite brand because it didn’t have a mobile app.

Workers not websites

Guy Courtin, VP of industry and solutions strategy at GT Nexus, said he was surprised by the findings. “When we think of millennials we think of their attention being drawn to cool, edgy and flashy,”​ he explained. “These survey results paint a different picture.”

All of the major disloyalty factors fall into “behind-the-scenes”​ domains, he explained. Meanwhile the sexier consumer-facing factors – such as a brand’s social media presence, mobile apps or a slick website – don’t appear have a big impact on young consumers’ brand loyalty.

This focus on ethics and environmental performance is also most pronounced in the youngest consumers. In Germany, for example, 27% of the 18- to 24-year-old consumers said they’d switch allegiances if they had doubts about a brand’s environmental performance, but this drops to just 15% amongst 25- to 34-year-olds. In the UK, there was a similar split: 32% versus 15%.

Brits (28%) and Germans (26%) also seem to place greater importance on the treatment of workers than their French neighbours (17%).

Consumers are likely to be more aware and less tolerant of supply chain issues following public scandals in some sectors. Millennials are sending a very clear message to their favourite brands, Courtin warned. “If you don’t respect the workers creating your goods – either inside your organisation or in your supply chains – we will turn on you.”

Related topics: Market Trends, Organics, Sustainability

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