- A Harris Poll commissioned by Lithium Technologies found that 74% of digital natives, comprised of Gen Z and millennials, object to brands being in their social media feeds.
- More than half (56%) reported cutting back or stopping use of social media platforms over advertising. At the same, 54% of the younger demographics trust social media, compared to 32% for older demographics.
- Digital natives also trust blogs, online communities and celebrity endorsements at higher rates than their older cohorts. Given that 35% of digital natives trust celebrity endorsements (compared to 19% for older demographics), sponsored social media could be marketing tactic that might slip past the advertising objection.
For marketers, at the surface, these findings appear bleak.
"With millennials and Gen Z now making up more than half the population, businesses are clamoring to earn their dollars (and if they’re not, they should be). This study reveals that if brands want to really turn these digital natives into customers, they need to find ways to engage with them authentically, rather than just filling up their news feeds with ads," Eddie McGraw, director of communications at Lithium Technologies, told Marketing Dive.
Though the findings present a conundrum for marketers, they can still use this information to their advantage. The higher level of trust in digital interaction from digital natives is an opportunity to connect with these younger consumers where they spend time.
"It’s not a cut/copy process and there's no simple way to do it. Authentic engagement means taking the time to learn about your customers so you can engage with them (on social channels, on owned communities, on blogs)," McGraw cautioned.
And there is consensus around the notion that to connect with millennials, the key is authenticity in marketing. Just as McGraw explained there are challenges to taking this approach to marketing, especially at scale, last year Curalate CMO Matt Langie told Marketing Dive that the most important thing to remember is that younger consumers make up a diverse population with varied interest that can't be reached through a "one-size-fits-all" approach.
As Lithium's McGraw pointed out, what digital natives crave is authentic communications. "Those businesses that actually take the time to truly understand and engage their customers will stand apart from the competition and drive more loyalty, more advocacy, and more revenue," he said.