How Can Brands Connect With the Facebook Generation?

According to a report by McCann WorldGroup, “The Truth About Youth”, millennials live in a new “social economy” in which recommending and sharing brands is front and center in their daily lives. The April study was conducted in seven countries: the United States, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Spain, India, and Mexico. It explored the motivations of 16- to 30-year-olds with the goal of uncovering how they differ from previous generations in terms of brand interaction. According to the study, this group emphasizes public self-definition — they broadcast and narrate their lives via blogging, photos, and inexpensive design and editing software. Some country-specific insights also emerged — respondents in China, Brazil, and India, where emerging consumers are just beginning to build brand loyalties, feel the most strongly about sharing brands they like with friends.

Here’s a related infographic that explains how millennials access media and technology. Click on the image to see the entire version:

The study (see below) revealed that the millennials are the first truly global generation, and that they are motivated by three things that exist in every in every society and drive behaviors:

  • The need for community (to connect with others and form relationships)
  • The need for justice (to achieve personal or social justice and do what’s right through activism)
  • The need for authenticity (to see things as they are)

Laura Simpson, Global IQ Director, McCann Worldwide, had this to say about the study:

“What we saw is that technology is the great global unifier.  It is the glue that binds this generation together and fuels the motivations that define them. Young people utilize technology as a kind of supersense which connects them to infinite knowledge, friends and entertainment opportunities.”

Key findings include:

  • The social economy has replaced the experience economy
    The research found that, more and more, the social economy is the focus for young people today — what they share and who they connect with. One respondent said that “if there are no pics, it didn’t happen”. For this generation, belonging to an extensive network of friends has superseded the need for a close group of friends — and they manage their connections and interactions via social media. Globally, 47% of people in this age group want to be remembered for their connections.
  • Technology is indispensable
    Over half (53%) of 16- to 22-year-olds said they would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their technology — it’s a tool that enables them to connect to and understand the world around them.
  • Truth is currency
    Forty-two percent of respondents said the key trait in a best friend is “truthful” — this is almost twice as important to them than “genuine” (chosen by 22%). The top term young people use to characterize themselves is also “truthful”, with 21% choosing it in the survey. The rarer truth is, the more its value increases.
  • Social justice is an important driver
    For this group, the second most important motivator (at 52%) is justice. On a global basis, young people say that they are “good at knowing right from wrong” (44%), and a substantial percentage of them say that they want to be remembered for changing the world in a positive way. This generation is very aware of how social media tools are being used in the quest for social justice, and they are leveraging these tools to re-envision how justice works and how they can take action.

Marketing Takeaways:

  • Brands should align their marketing efforts with what’s important to this generation.
  • Advertising should be genuine, truthful, sociable, mature, and humble in its efforts to create connections.
  • The biggest mistake marketers make is overestimating their own importance. Young consumers say they quickly tire of brands that fill up their social graphs with what they consider meaningless information.


McCann Worldgroup – Truth About Youth

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