Brand loyalty, like most other things in today’s age has gone through a major evolution. In fact, one may debate that it no longer exists in its true form. No longer is brand loyalty solely based on a moving, memorable commercial, a bunch of coupons and a points-based loyalty program.

Case in point: Millennials. Sure, it may seem like we are not a loyal bunch in the way that our parents are. Sure, one may think that we are all about instant gratification – the kind of people who cancel an Uber that has an ETA of five minutes because we’d rather wait a minute than five. Sure, we seem like deal-prone switchers who shop at the dollar store with a $5 latte in hand. But I beg to differ. Of course we are a loyal bunch! But we are also a well-informed, tech-savvy breed that heavily rely on the digital space for almost everything that we do.

The internet and social media have played a tremendous role in disassembling the loyal buyer.Our paths to purchase have evolved. We value customer service and relationships a lot more than we may let on. Before making a purchase, I not only scour the internet for deals but also for reviews on the product and after-sales services depending on the item. I often check out a company’s Twitter page and how responsive they are. I’m also subscribed to lifestyle blogs and vlogs to discover new brands and trends. 33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books(http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/01/20/10-new-findings-about-the-millennial-consumer/) Yes, your social listening skills matter to me. In fact, in the last six months I have tweeted out to companies on two different occasions with compliments and complaints and on both occasions received a reply within thirty minutes. In one of the two situations, this helped me troubleshoot efficiently. Those brands have won me over as a loyal customer. Why? Because they effectively demonstrated two things to me:

  1. They were Listening.
  2. They were Responsive and willing to Engage in a one-on-one conversation.

This goes a long way with Generation Y and we value authenticity. 43% of millennials rank authenticity of content when consuming news.(http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/01/20/10-new-findings-about-the-millennial-consumer/)

But brand loyalty is always evolving. And brands have to constantly rethink their strategy in breaking through the clutter and winning a new generation of consumers over. I can go on and on about my experience with brands and how loyal I’ve become to them but the strategy to win brand loyalty will always change. Looking at the future and marketing to our generation – I notice changes in brand engagement to win over the current generation – Generation Z.

Brands win and lose with millennials – it’s hit or miss. Loyalty is one of the most valuable traits for brands – it combines trust, authenticity, and validity. And while certain brands are more memorable for their customer service, consumer interaction, instant gratification – it is us who are the biggest advocates. We are the biggest players in the evolution of loyalty. So as I sit here with my $5 latte and scour through the internet to do some holiday shopping, I am excited to see what the internet of things is going to bring next. Stay tuned, it’s a jungle out there.