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The fickle Millennial: How to create brand loyalty amongst Millennial Consumers



In today’s world, the biggest question is how to retain a millennial consumer. They are fickle in their choices and don’t display much brand loyalty, they make many impulse purchases and the price point is very important to them in their purchase decisions. In the jewellery world, the problem is compounded by the availability of imitation jewellery and inexpensive accessories at their doorstep. Therefore, it is important to create a brand differentiation that has a direct connection with the millennial consumer and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can help in achieving this.

Multiple companies such as Unilever, IBM, The Tata Group or even De Beers have been able to either create differentiation for their brand or change its image in the media through the effective use of CSR. De Beers, has been able to create a positive image for themselves through CSR activities in Botswana that help the local citizens in education and health. Additional to De Beers, Gemfields has also worked very hard on providing safe working conditions for mine workers in Zambia and Mozambique and have tried to support their children through education institutes and healthcare facilities for the families. These activities have helped both brands to change their reputation for the better in the media and in the minds of the consumer. However, CSR is not a silver bullet that guarantees brand differentiation and loyalty and if not used carefully it can backfire on the company.

The most important element of good CSR is authenticity, it is incredibly important to millennials that companies are true to themselves and their actions are a reflection of what they preach. Out of the 16 core values the millennial consumer looks for in a brand, authentic CSR ranks second highest after the price point. Consumers are a lot more likely to buy from a brand that they relate to beyond cut, color, clarity, design and price.

The brand needs to invest both time and money into CSR. Employees need to be seen as hands-on with the cause the company takes up. The company can organize activities that allow community members and employees to come together to make a positive difference in society. The benefits of this are reaped through community engagement that leads to grass-root marketing and also helps in establishing the authenticity of the brand. Companies such as Tanishq have been able to create a presence in local communities through their Karigar Parks. Here they provided much improved conditions for artisans and gave them a work environment that was more conducive to work and enhanced the self-esteem of the karigars as well. The Karigar Parks lead to positive media coverage that created loyalty among both consumers and workers. Such initiatives reduce the importance of the price point and competition in the minds of the consumer as now they have something else to base their purchase decisions on.

The other aspect of CSR is that the ‘voice’ of the company becomes one with that of the consumer. The consumer is able to identify the brand for what it stands for rather than what it sells and this is critical. The products themselves can display the brand’s dedication towards a particular cause. For example, in the fashion industry, various designers have used women from rural India or a small section of society and dedicated an entire collection of clothing or jewellery lines to them. This supports the marginalized section of society, generates sales and profits for the company, and creates a brand differentiator.

However, millennial consumers are more likely to conduct their own research to ensure that the brand is taking concrete steps towards making a change in their chosen field. Therefore, one of the key things is a well-maintained online presence. This includes creating transparency in business operations and handling your own social media, but social media should not be used only for promotional posts. Brands should take time to create a dialogue with the consumer and listen to what they are saying. An honest dialogue about the causes a brand is advocating and supporting will demonstrate authenticity and genuinity to the consumer and this will enable brand loyalty.

Additionally, millennials will become free brand ambassadors for the company as they not only appreciate the product but also relate to the company at a deeper level. They believe in the idea that the company is having a positive influence in society and this effort on the company’s part is reciprocated by the consumer. Such social media influencers can help take the brand to different levels in the eyes of the millennial consumer but this is only possible if the company is willing to invest considerable time, effort and money in their CSR operations.

It is easy to see that without consumer engagement good CSR has no value and the company needs to be smart in the way they can subtly include their CSR activities in their marketing campaigns. So, CSR also provides an avenue to engage with people who may not have originally been buyers of the product, let alone the brand.

In the jewellery industry, where the main differentiators are legacy and design and most consumers buy from a retailer because their parents bought from them, CSR can be a game-changer. With millennials losing interest in buying jewellery as investments and the general trend towards more spending now and less saving means that high price jewellery brands can no longer connect with millennials using the same strategies they used to connect with their forefathers. Using authentic CSR as a higher-order means of creating brand loyalty amongst millennials is not only an innovative approach but also one in which there is long-term gain in terms of both brand loyalty and profitability.

Prasham Kothari 

+91 9820083355


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