The Keys to Winning Millennials: CSR, Humor and Loyalty Rewards

If the number one topic of discussion at Ad Week is content, the Millennial generation ranks a close second—and research presented this week by textbook rental company Chegg should provide everyone in the business with a few more talking points on that front.

The results of this third annual “undercover with college students” survey reinforce some things we already knew about what Chegg is calling the “Made-to-Order” generation. The three conclusions that stood out to us were these: Milliennials love humor when it’s well-done, they want to know all about your brand’s CSR efforts, and they expect to be rewarded for their loyalty.

Some details on media consumption:

  • 33% only watch video content via streaming services and only 59% have a cable or satellite subscription (which means that all those reports about the decline of traditional advertising aren’t completely insane).


  • 88 percent believe it’s important for companies to give back to the community. They want you to actively show them how you’re doing it, because 80% also think it’s important to buy from brands that have “responsible business practices.”

On Millennials’ relationships with brands:

  • 80% expect near real-time customer service, which means more PR on Twitter.
  • 61% follow a brand on social media while 84% said that they “advocate for brands who reward my loyalty”
  • 49% who received a free product sample on campus talked to their friends about it, while 23% went out and bought it and 13% talked about it on social media.

On content:

  • The promos they remember best are the funny ones: 80% recall ads that made them laugh, but they’re especially harsh in judging brands whose attempts at humor come off as disingenuous. And it’s tough to master that art.

In summary, brands looking to win the most important demographic must: be funny without trying too hard; be socially responsible in a relatable way; move away from cable TV as a promotional forum; give out free stuff to earn raves on social; and reward those who stick with them (with more free stuff). One thing the press release left out is that Millennials have very little patience for brands that don’t get this equation. They want to know why they, of all six billion people on the planet, should care.

It all sounds incredibly simple, but of course it’s anything but. Good luck.

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