Us and Them: The Double Standard of Online Reputation

While consumers demand transparency from corporations, a new online reputation study conducted by Fabric uncovered a double standard when it comes to managing their personal reputation. So, what accounts for this discrepancy? We dug deep to discover the truth.

Research Objective

To understand how the notion of online reputation has impacted consumer behavior on two axes: how they consume content related to reputation, and how they think about their own reputation.

Target Audience

National US sample

17 states, 27 cities

Ages 18-53

Even Male/Female ratio

Mix of ethnicities

Mix of socio-economic backgrounds

We Learned

Consumers expect transparency from corporations, but their behaviors show that they hold themselves to a different bar of “honesty.”

My expectations: Corporate brands:

  • A complete disclosure of all reviews and opinions
  • Transparent, honest “voice”
  • Open access

My behaviors: “My” brands

  • A post of positive/“liked” comments only
  • A constant censoring of “voice” for reputation management
  • Controlled access

Three emerging consumer “recognitions” have led to this double standard

  • They acknowledge the permanence of their online actions.
  • They increasingly realize their brand reputations can be tracked as carefully as corporate brands.
  • They know they can now take active steps to “manage” their personal brands online.
I find myself censoring a lot of the things that I would normally just say… and I’ll take photos down if they don’t get enough likes.And then on the side of buying things online, I rely on the reputation of a company solely by the reviews. If they have a bad review, it reflects really badly.

~ Mariana

When I think about online reputation on a personal level, I know that I am far more aware of what I put out there because potential employers and clients can see what I’m saying and I prefer their first impression to be positive.When it comes to where I go, it’s rare that I go somewhere without having checked on Twitter to see if they suck.

~ Taylor S.

I don’t want others to meet me a minute in person and then go try to look me up online to try to learn more about me and find all of these crazy, bad, wild stories about me!

~ Laura H.

Current Perspectives Regarding Their Online Reputations Higher level of consciousness about the permanence of their actions online.

  • Consumers admit that they have changed their behaviors over the last 2 to 3 years.
  • Concern about permanence of online reputation sometimes at paranoia intensity.
  • Boomers especially aware and fearful for the “younger” generation.
Yes, I have changed my behavior on the Internet over the past two to three years. I tend to watch what I say and what I post on social media because you don’t want that as a permanent record which people can Google and then attribute to you.For example, you don’t want potential employers finding dirt on you.

~ Don V

have become more aware that people know what I do on the Internet. So I have to make sure that all the things that I put do not hang over my head, so no one can use it against me.

~ Bianca M

I think, being a parent, I have to be aware of what I put up there and that I am not giving the wrong signals to my children, their friends, their friends’ parents, etc. I worry that the teens and 20-somethings have no idea how much this is going to come back to haunt them for years.I think it’s very important that people be aware that once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

~ Laurie P

Increasingly realize personal online reputation may be tracked as easily as corporate reputations

  • Consumers now realize that the freedom of speech originally enabled by the Internet may not be so “free”
  • As the early social media users mature, they realize the shift in their audience from friends to employers
  • Consumer sense a greater use of “monitoring” tools in use by corporate employers
I try to think twice before I tweet something or post something on Facebook or Instagram…because it not only affects the amount of followers I have, but it also affects my Klout score or my online reputation scores which in turn dictates how much of an authority I have on certain topics on Twitter.

~ Aman B.

I started on Facebook in 2004 when I was still in school and that’s just sort of what it was for at the time. Now, everyone is on and it’s very easy for employees or just my company in general to see what I’m posting online.

~ Amanda W.

Potential employers are now screening social media and doing background checks based on social networking sites. So definitely leaving a positive digital imprint on the Internet is important to me. There are actually tools out there for monitoring people so it’s becoming very easy now.

~ Tyler M.

Expecting complete transparency from corporate brand v.s. actively varnishing their own reputations.

  • Professional/employment concerns are often the rationalization
  • Some frequently Google themselves as a “brand check”
  • Others even go so far as to change their names or “delete themselves” entirely for peace of mind
I’ve noticed that a lot of employers start looking online now to see how you react towards others’ posts and to see if you’re respectful toward others’ opinions. I’ve tried to show how I would work well with others in an organization by showing what I like…posting about places I’ve visited.

~ Nefra I..

Reputation online has changed my behavior because for instance, like on a Facebook forum, I will say more stuff on secret groups than I would on my timeline or my personal page.

~ Shelton Y.

When I was looking for a job, I had to change my last name on Facebook so that I wouldn’t be found. Even though I’m very good about what I post publicly, I just know that there’s a trail everywhere and everyone will always be able to find it no matter what I do… even if I delete it.

~ Melissa P.

Consumers still place a high value on honest corporate reputation content and expect complete transparency

I’ve become a lot more aggressive and diligent in finding different reviews to research…to find why somebody says this or that about a product. I try to be as honest as I can when commenting and I would hope that organizations themselves would do the same.

~ Craig A.

I think it’s very important for organizations to have a strong online reputation. It’s important to have a good reputation on websites like Glassdoor. You can now easily do a Google search for a company name and see the complaints…see what kind of online reputation they have.

~ Jennifer S.

04. But when it comes to their online reputation, consumers, like corporations, recognize the importance of a positive “brand standing” to their overall success, with honesty and transparency a much lower priority.

Online my reputation will definitely change because it’s important to be able to get along with people that I normally wouldn’t have liked or even tried to do business with. It helps to be able to hide behind that online reputation and image.

~ Rob K.

I think that an online reputation is something that you have to take care of. You have to be very conscious when you go online and very careful of what you say and do.

~ Maria J.

Conclusions & Implications

  • A double standard is emerging as consumers actively sanitize their online reputation while expecting corporations to provide complete transparency
  • Oddly, individuals are starting to act like the corporations they historically have mistrusted by scrubbing anything that isn’t positive
  • As consumers become increasingly more serious about their online reputations, they are becoming more savvy in their investigations/ evaluations of corporate reputations as well.
  • Corporations must be mindful of the rising anxiety regarding “employer tracking” etc., as they strive to maintain healthy, positive relationships with their consumers
  • Social media brands must obviously strive to remain relevant, thriving destinations for the increasingly more guarded consumers as consumer sensitivities about privacy and security policies continue to increase
  • Corporate/social media forums should seek ways to provide consumers with both the “freedom” and “control” they desire


5 Ways Buying Local Matters (and Doesn’t) to Millennials

Knowing that attitudes about food quality and the importance of food origin have evolved with time, Fabric wanted to explore the topic with a new generation of grocery purchasers: Millennials. Their insights were honest, and they weren’t afraid to speak their minds in how their attitudes differ from their parents.

Research Objective

We wanted to understand the role food origin plays in Millennials’ attitudes about food quality and how origin impacts their food purchasing behaviors. Furthermore, we wanted to uncover how they feel their attitudes and behaviors differ from their parents.

Target Audience

National US sample

14 states/22 cities

Ages 18 – 32 All involved in food purchasing decisions

Even male/female ratio

Mix of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds

We Learned

Millennials are actually channel-agnostic when it comes to shopping, and retailers need to maximize each platform to build a lasting relationship with this generation. This report highlights eight things you can do to make your consumer experience resonate with Millennials.

The majority of Millennials are proud to say they have a very different set of food purchasing priorities versus their parents.

The Parent’s food purchasing properties were defined in a way:

  • Acquire what is “on the list,” with food origin as low priority
  • Traditional grocery store chains = “good enough” standard
  • Keep food expenditures low to get the “biggest bang for the buck”
  • Purchase from wherever is the most convenient

Millennials’ Food Purchasing Priorities were defined this way:

  • Acquire local produce and meats that are “good for my body”
  • The majority of grocery stores = inferior standards versus farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s
  • Support the local farmers and economy through local purchases
  • Purchase locally for the most minimal impact on the environment

Millennials feel that their “buy local” behaviors have many important implications

Origin not only impacts the freshness/ quality of the food, but also the “health” of it.

  • My local food purchases can impact my local economy
  • Buying local will ultimately help the environment
I try to buy from roadside fruit stands and vegetables stands or organic markets. My parents don’t share the same values. They buy whatever is the most convenient when they want it and I personally don’t feel that’s the best way to go about it.

Jessica, 29, FL

I’m definitely different from my parents. My parents go by cost. That’s their primary concern. They just go by what is cheapest. My veggies come from farmer’s markets and my meats come from Sprouts, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I always do the research to check where they are from and to make sure they are healthy for my body.

Amanda, 28, CA

The way I eat is very different (from my parents.) I grew up in rural Indiana and ate a lot of Baby Boomer factory food. A lot of processed food. A lot of the food that we bought at the grocery store then was this type of factory processed food.

Shawna, 29, IL

While Millennials agree that “local” is important to health, the definition of “local” and its specific impact on their health varies.

  • For some Millennials, “local” means local farmers/farm stands, but for others it is defined as U.S. versus foreign production.
  • A subset of Millennials felt it is very important to purchase food from areas that “specialize” in producing that food – even if that is outside of their region.
  • While all mentioned freshness as a benefit of “local,” some also fear that non-U.S. produced foods equate to disease.
I like buying food that is as local as possible. If I have the option, I would rather buy fruit from Florida than, say, Mexico or somewhere else. I feel like the closer you are to your home, the fresher it’s going to be, the less preservatives needed to keep the food fresh and ready to eat.

~ Mari, 24, TN

I don’t like buying stuff that is from too far away or from somewhere that doesn’t specialize in what they’re making.

~ Krista, 28, MA

I’m not necessarily a health guru, I eat junk food mainly, but origins do impact behavior. Mainly food that comes from overseas has been linked with disease.

~ Douglas, 20, NC

Millennials feel good about the fact that their individual purchases help their local economy - but recognize there is a cost.

  • Some Millennials see “big food brands” and ”big box” retailers as the enemy of “local” success
  • While most said their parents often buy whatever is cheapest, they recognize that “buying local” usually does come at a premium
  • There was price sensitivity present, even among those in higher household income brackets.
I do try to support the local economy. My mom will buy local too if she can afford it, but if it’s cheaper somewhere else, she’ll do that to get the best bang for the buck.

Trey, 26, TX

I try to always support the local community to help them rise up. My parents try to too, but they will honestly eat anything!

Kayla, 25, OR

If I see something is local, I find that to be a good thing, but I would not pay more money for that to be the case.

Evan, 25, NY

I generally wouldn’t buy something that’s overpriced at a farmer’s market, either. But, if it costs not too much more then I wouldn’t mind spending a little extra money on it.

Simon, 25, CA

“Buying local” also allows Millennials to feel like they are helping the environment.

  • Millennials are more concerned about their “ecological footprint” than their parents
  • “Local food” benefits the environment because it is sustainable, and consumes lower energy and less fuel
The origins of food have a very large impact on my purchasing decisions. I am very focused on trying to keep a small ecological footprint.

Daniel, 23, MT

I like to go to local producers, farmers markets for my fruit and I wouldn’t mind getting organic meats as well, like chicken and beef, generally. That’s mostly, because I feel like it will help the environment a little bit. There’s a lot of damaging aspects to the big corporate game when you consider what’s happening to our environment, like mass production of methane and too much corn being produced.

Simon, 25, CA

Although “local” is often defined differently among Millennials,it does impact their buying behavior.

Their “local purchases” enable them to feel they are having a strong positive impact on their health, their local economy and the environment.

I believe that purchasing items that are more local like from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are a bit healthier because I know where it (the food) traces back to and I also know that they aren’t going to be any kind of by products or chemicals that I wouldn’t want to have as my daily intake.

~ Ashley, 25, GA

I like to support the local farmers in the area…I feel like the farmers have a higher standard than the stores do because the grocery stores sometimes put out food that is not acceptable.

~ Heather, 28, NY

I think it’s important that we know where our food comes from and so much of the food that we buy in the grocery stores, we have no idea where it was manufactured, processed or anything

~ Zachary, 24, CA


To Embrace or Reject: The Wearable Tech Divide

Wearable technology like FitBit and FuelBand have split American consumers into two camps: enthusiasts and rejectors. A recent Fabric study shows how their opinions differ dramatically on the role fitness tracking wearables should play in their lives.

Research Objective

Americans are united in their desire to connect with their bodies more, but are deeply divided about the role of wearable computing in that quest. We wanted to capture the relationship people have with their wearable fitness devices—including both fans and rejectors of this technology— and compare their attitudes.

Target Audience

National US sample

13 states

23 cities

Ages 18 – 66

Even male/female

ratio Mix of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds

We Learned

One camp looks to wearables like FitBit or FuelBand as means to motivate themselves, to track their progress, and to heighten their awareness of the present moment.

For Fans

Wearables motivate, track, and heighten awareness of the present moment.

What I really like about my FitBit is that it makes me more aware of what I’m doing during the day, and it keeps me motivated to maybe take the steps over the escalator, or walk instead of take the subway…It makes me think about things a little bit more.

~ Elizabeth, 26, Massachusetts

(Uses Packed app & Moves app) “I never noticed how much I’d walk a day and it was good to see that and to keep aware of, oh -maybe I should walk more. The Packed app helps me to stay focused on my fitness goals.”

~ Caroline, 23, New Jersey

(Uses FitBit) „The more you know, the better you can be about changing things.”

~ Trey J.

For Rejectors

The other camp sees wearables as an unproven distraction, putting a barrier between them and their bodies, and limiting their quest to be more in-tune with themselves. Wearables are an unproven distraction that limit self-awareness.

What I really like about my FitBit is that it makes me more aware of what I’m doing during the day, and it keeps me motivated to maybe take the steps over the escalator, or walk instead of take the subway…It makes me think about things a little bit more.

~ Elizabeth, 26, Massachusetts

I’m not sure if it has real benefits for me. When I am being physically active or exercising (whether I’m by myself or with friends), I want to feel fully present.I want to feel fully engaged, and I want to feel connected to my body… I think if I was wearinga gadget, I would be distracted.

~ Phoenix, 50, California

One of my biggest criticisms is that it has the potential to undermine your own innate sense of your body and what you need, being able to use your own internal trackers.

~ Alice, 27, San Francisco

I like working out, and to have something that feels like unplugging, off of screen, no gadgets, relaxing, pure nature…I like to keep it low-tech and away from the computers and gadgets that I spend so much of my life on.

~ Margaret W.

Fans see wearables as a companion in their journey – they refer to them in human terms.I’m a big girl, but I chose to workout to be there for my daughter… It’s changed my life, because it’s given me numbers plus results… It’s a great assistant.

~ Kimberly P.

I like my FuelBand because I feel like I get a more accurate idea of my strength when I work-out. I feel like I get a better workout…I push myself knowing that I’m actually being recorded… It’s kind of like having brother watching you.

~ Lisa S.

[My] Nike+ SportWatch GPS is an indispensable tool for keeping all my running goals and activity charted and logged.What’s great is that it gives me feedback on my running, congratulates me, provides me with words of encouragement.

~ Shawn H.

Conclusions & Implications

  • While based on our study of consumer relationships with fitness-tracking wearables, the conclusions below may be extrapolated to the expanding range of wearable technology.
  • Wearable fans and rejectors share the common goal of wanting to be more connected to their bodies and the moment, yet have polar opposite opinions about the role of computing in that journey.
  • The wearables audience segmentation appears binary at the moment: people are clearly in one camp or the other, with no shades of grey in between.
  • Wearables have the ability to be welcomed into consumers’ personal space. And, surprisingly, in an era of fear of Big Brother, there doesn’t appear to be any fear about the misuse or abuse of that information amongst fans.
  • The fact that wearables are beginning to be described in very human terms may mean people are emotionally ready to accept computers as a genuine relationship partner versus just a pure tech tool.
  • There may be tension building between those who embrace wearables as an extension of the themselves, and those who continue to see wearables as an enemy of human instinct.


Millennial Brand Loyalty: Rewards Over Relationships

Millennials are redefining the concept of brand loyalty; in their eyes, it has changed dramatically from their parents’ version. Whereas their parent’s loyalty is seen to be a dynamic built on personal and emotional long-lasting relationships, theirs swings in an entirely new direction.

Research Objective

To understand how the Millennial generation’s definition of customer loyalty differs from that of their parents.

Target Audience

National US sample

13 states

22 cities

Ages 18 – 34

Approximately even male/ female ratio

Mix of socio-economic backgrounds & ethnicities

We Learned

Loyalty used to be based on personal relationships

Previous generations were loyal based on the personal relationships they established with companies and brands.

My parents always went in, they went to the same grocery store, they got to know some people there, and so their loyalty would be based on that.

~ Roger, 26, Tennessee

And I think that’s what the difference is from my parents’ generation. They basically stuck with the company through the good, bad, the ugly. Whenever they had another choice, they will stick to choose that company that they’re loyal to.

~ Chiezika, 30, California

The Internet changed everything

As the defining event of the Millennial generation, the rise of the Internet changed everything for Millennials — including shopping strategies.

My definition of customer loyalty is different than my parents because we just have the internet to basically get the best deals. If you try hard enough you can find the best deal out there.

~ Adam, 25, Oregon

In our case, we shop around and a lot of times, most things are bought on the internet. We don’t even know who we’re buying from.

~ Aimee, 27, Florida

I do a lot of my shopping online, and because of that I’m interacting on a regular basis with companies that have no face, it’s not about the relationship I’m forming, it’s purely about content, it’s purely about the products that I’m receiving.

~ Haley, 22, California

Millennials diversify their shopping

While their parents become regulars at local stores, Millennials diversify their shopping and don’t expect to find everything in one location

In my parents’ generation, they would go to a single store, like Sears for example, and they would stick with that store because they knew they could trust the product from those stores. Whereas now, there’s a lot more competition, so I don’t think brand loyalty and customer loyalty are as important.

~ TJ, 25, Kentucky

For my generation I think we always want things tailored to us, so we go to places that have the best prices, or are the most convenient, or tailor items to us – like have the most natural products or whatever we’re looking for.

~ Ana, 33, Texasia

For Millennials, loyalty is transactional

Millennials expect to receive benefits in exchange for their loyalty.

I’m loyal to a company that can make something that I’m happy with, but my loyalty doesn’t mean that it spans a long amount a time. It just means that I appreciate the products.

~ Kendall, 20, Washington

Our expectations? “We expect to have just as good service – even though we’re not as loyal.

~ Aimee, 27, Florida

We look to see what the store can give us in order for us to be loyal to them and I think that our expectations are so different because it’s easier for us to find another store that’s willing to meet our needs.

~ Alexis, 23, North Carolina

I feel people in my generation tend to focus on places that offer more goods and offer free things or rewards.

~ Zora, 22, Massachusetts

First off, the customer loyalty in my generation really is about quality, how much we pay for things, and not just being loyal for the sake of being loyal.

~ Gabriella, 34, California

Conclusions and Implications

  • Millennials are less swayed than their parents by personal relationships to brands or companies. With a diminished sense of attachment to particular companies, this generation will readily switch brands.
  • Retailer reward programs can win Millennials’ loyalty for a short time, or until a competitor offers a better program.
  • Millennial consumers demand more benefits in exchange for their loyalty. Some benefits, like free shipping and returns for products bought online, go a long way in increasing brand loyalty.
  • Thanks to online shopping, Millenials are accustomed to having a vast number of options at their fingertips, and they make savvy decisions based on price, quality, and convenience.
  • Online reviews carry tremendous weight. When Millenials are making purchase decisions, they seek out customer reviews. When targeting Millennials, retailers must pay attention to the online conversation about their brand.
  • Today’s large companies feel too big for Millennials to build relationships with. They are concerned that the level of customer service is diminishing.


Why Mobile Ethnography Beats Big Data in Capturing the “Why”

In over 20 years of working with some of the world’s most valuable companies and recognized brands, Fabric founder Tom Bassett has learned that mobile video surveys are the best way to capture a consumer’s emotions and authentic insights into how they make decisions.

The human mind is complex, and when it comes to making key decisions for your organization— whether in launching a new product or crafting messaging for an ad campaign— the goal is to dive deep into the mind of the consumer. Big data can give you the “what,” but it pretty much stops there. It’s important to uncover the “why.” Why do consumers feel a certain way? Why do they make decisions?

This is where mobile video surveys come in. When people record their responses on video, letting you peek into their cabinets, closets, and pantries, you’ll both hear and see the deep layers of “why.” First-person accounts provide the rich qualitative data you need. You’ll see it for yourself; when you go back and watch the videos, gleaning insights and analyzing results, you’ll notice that major cues often lie in the most subtle places.

Plus, video is a great tool for presenting your findings back internally. You’ll get your colleagues’ attention, and it’s an effective way to share the authentic human story, capturing sight, sound, and motion, and fostering empathy with consumers. It’s worth it to take the time to curate a “findings” reel to include with your presentation; it really takes things to the next level.


8 Ways Brands Can Attract and Keep Millennial Customers

What makes a positive shopping experience for Millennials? We ran a mobile video ethnography study to better understand this, and we learned 8 ways brands can make their consumer experience resonate with Millennials. Hint: Personal connection lives on!

Research Objective

Better understand what makes a positive shopping experience for Millennials.

Target Audience

National US sample

16 states

29 cities

Skew female

Millennials (18-34 yrs old)

Mix of socio-economic background & ethnicities

We Learned

Millennials are actually channel-agnostic when it comes to shopping, and retailers need to maximize each platform to build a lasting relationship with this generation. This report highlights eight things you can do to make your consumer experience resonate with Millennials.

In-store is the ultimate relationship opportunity

Millennials (perhaps molded by the customization of online shopping) are impressed by personalized service in store. It’s by far the biggest opportunity for retailers to grow relationships and loyalty by going the extra mile. Your reps are everything here.

I was buying a pair of shoes that were rubber Converse shoes; they were very unique shoes. I bought the shoes that day with a salesperson, and I went back a month later and the salesperson remembered me and she said, “Oh, hi Kendall. How did those shoes work out?”?
I was really overwhelmed and completely impressed that she remembered my name, and then also what specific shoes I had purchased a month back.

~kendall A, 21, Washngton

I struck up a conversation with the [Gamestop] employee that was there – very friendly, very down-to-earth – and he approached me more like a friend instead of a customer. Within a few questions he got to know exactly what my interests were. He was really looking to give me the most for my money, for my time.

~ Markos U, 22, Florida

“Oops” is actually an opportunity!

Acknowledge and fix mistakes immediately, going above and beyond with surprises or bonuses. It’s a great low-cost opportunity to drive loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, personalize experiences, and build the relationship.

On their website they have a no-return policy. But the customer-service agent was what really impressed me, because she completely understood where I was coming from, and that they want to give me the best product out there.
And so she said, “Listen, I completely understand where you’re coming from. Sorry about that. I hope it never happens again. We’re going to gladly send you a new pair.” That really just blew me away.

~ Zack P, 20, Michigan

I contacted the people [ on Kickstarter] whom I just funded. And they said that my payment went through three times, so they ended up refunding me the first two payments. And they’re going to send a little additional gift to apologize… So I let all my friends know about how reputable the customer service was on Kickstarter.

High touch isn’t too much

Updates, updates, updates make Millennials feel fulfilled, valued, and part of the process (as long as they can opt out).

t arrived in two days and I was like, Holy crap.” [The company’s website] kept me updated. It texted me every time. It went from California to Colorado to my home in Orlando.
Every time it landed somewhere, they text with updates saying, “Hey, your package is here. Don’t worry. It’ll be here on these days.” It got there in two days and that was astounding.

~ Ernesto S, 18, Florida

[] has a thing where it will say ‘coming soon’ on a new item, and you’re able to sign up on an alert list so that when the item becomes available, they email you immediately because a lot of their items sell out pretty quickly on the site.
I got an email and I was able to order it within the first ten minutes of it becoming available, and got it within three days, and it was perfect. I loved it. their service where they alert you when things are ready is a great bonus of the site.

Earn lifelong relationships today with the wow factor

Millennials are savvy and sometimes jaded consumers; they’ve seen it all. Stop them in their tracks with something new or unexpected, and loyalty is yours.

I purchased a single-serve blender on but the item was defective so I returned the item and they sent me a replacement blender. When I tried the replacement blender, it didn’t work either. So, I contacted and they apologized for the defective item, they replaced the item, and on top of that, they allowed me to keep a portion of the defective item.
Since then, I’ve been a loyal customer of They have excellent service.

~ Lynn V, 22, Ohio

Always-on availability wins

Millennials think your store is open 24/7 and, thanks to Wikipedia, expect all the info they need instantly. Service in-store and online should match or exceed that expectation, including reps always available for chat.

I was looking at an item online from the Chaco website and it really just impressed me because the people online were super nice.
it was cool that even though customers had bad experiences, Chaco – the website and organization – would actually reply back and say, “Hey, really sorry that happened.Call our number and we can help you.

~ Alisha J, 21, Louisiana

Do them a solid and they’ll WOM you up!

Millennials reward retailers that “understand them” with immediate, glowing, word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals to their social circles. Retailers should consider this praise priceless, as Millennials are generally skeptical consumers and value highest the opinions of those close to them.

My A.C. went out and, as you can tell, I have a child. It was very hot in the house. It was a company called Associated Heating & Air; I thought they did an excellent job. I’ve told multiple people about them.
They were out here within a couple of hours of us calling them. They were the most reasonably priced company, and they were straightforward with everything.

~ Hannah B, 27, Georgia

Added-value service builds loyalty

Extra service and expertise beyond the sale builds equity with Millennials through goodwill, and boosts long-term loyalty and those coveted WOM referrals.

It turns out the guy couldn’t fix [my phone], but he gave it back to me and actually didn’t charge me when I was expecting to be charged. It was like $150. But, it was just great. He was helpful and gave me some tips on getting it replaced because I had to get a whole new phone.
But, it was great. I told my family and friends about it, and I will always go back to them for help with that kind of thing.

~ Amanda D, 29, California

I went in [to Micro Center], and the service was amazing. They took me to exactly where I needed to be, didn’t try to force me to buy one of the more expensive [computer cooling pads].
They told me everything I needed to know about what cooling pads can do, and that I didn’t need something super over-the-top for my problem.

Stand for something and Millennials will stand with you

Cause-marketing builds Millennials’ sense of your brand’s identity, appeals to their inclinations toward social good, and is a big opportunity to broaden engagement. However, your core offering needs to deliver beyond the good deed.

What they are is an organization that works with charities to do what I love to do, and that’s change the world. I found out about them through Twitter – somebody had retweeted a link – and it had a picture of an awesome looking watch.
It was in orange; it looked so cool. I was like, “Man, I’ve got to be a part of this.”

~ Joshua B, 24, Georgia

I just really love, and I tell my friends about it all the time because the product lasts. It’s made in the U.S. which supports local businesses, and that’s what I’m all about, especially when buying products. And they’re just a really great community and are very people-oriented.

Conclusions and Implications

Millennials don’t necessarily prefer any one channel for shopping, and retailers should take advantage of the unique opportunities that various platforms afford them with this audience to build a multifaceted brand experience. In-store experiences present unique opportunities for personalization, the wow factor, and added-value moments; online experiences provide always-on service possibilities, and hightouch that scales.