By Morten Strand, chief executive of Cint

The Millennial generation (those born between 1978-2000) have different motivations and values, which can make them more complex for marketers to understand. Collaboration and sharing are intrinsic themes of the millennial mind-set and the line between work and play has been blurred, leading to a shift in attitudes towards employment and leisure. This has had an impact on the way in which people engage with brands. Millennials expect organisations to be open and honest – both as employers and as retailers and there is a real pressure for marketing content to offer consumer value. The boundaries between entertainment, information and advertising are becoming less defined as content marketing becomes an effective method for engaging with Millennials.

So how can we best understand what motivates Millennials?

1) Millennials and engagement

Millennials are 56 per cent more likely to discover content on social networks than via email or search, and there is a multitude of analytical tools to help brands gain insights on consumer engagement across their social networks. However, using online panels to conduct surveys can help to provide qualitative data that evaluates exactly why users engage with content, offering a valuable alternative to some of the most prevalent analytics tools. Consumers are much savvier when it comes to recognising that whilst brands are keen to promote the idea that they have an altruistic interest in their customers – ultimately, millennials are fully aware that businesses are motivated by profits.

2) Millennials and brand loyalty

Traditionally, familiarity and habit have been major factors in the decision making process when it comes to how and where people shop. People would bank and shop with the same organisations as their parents before them however, this is now changing. Millennials are making conscious, informed decisions about which brands they shop with based on a wider variety of factors. This is not to say that brand loyalty no longer exists, as it has never been more prevalent; Millennials define themselves by the brands and products that they choose. This offers a valuable opportunity for brands, as once they can identify their target audience they can build tailored marketing strategies around affirming the identity their shoppers have invested in. Market research tools, which evaluate where consumers shop and crucially, where they aspire to shop, can also offer valuable insights into what they are looking for as part of the customer experience.

3) Millennials want quick returns

Millennials prefer instant gratification. Long-winded reward programmes were a popular way for brands to give back to customers but this has quickly evolved into more immediate rewards. Offers, discounts and freebies are no longer considered to be a bonus, consumers now feel entitled to intelligent, relevant promotions. Loyalty cards are now less about accruing points and more about monitoring shopping habits and favourite products. Once this has been established online panels can be utilised to decipher how consumers want to receive offers.

4) Millennials and emerging technology

Millennials are much more likely to be early adopters of the latest technology and with the Internet of Things (IoT) set to become much more mainstream, brands will have many more opportunities to learn about millennial motivators. IoT may have once been an idea almost too futuristic to contemplate - appliances or household systems that can be controlled remotely via apps, who would have thought? But IoT is becoming more widely known about and the proliferation of ‘life logging’ wearables – the most recently notable being Apple Watch – means IoT will become instrumental for brands wanting to gather insights on their audiences. IoT will largely be driven by mobile apps, and mainstream consumer adoption will be dependent on brands, which will also be the key driver of take-up.

The Millennial generation can be complex for marketers to comprehend but they are much more pre-disposed to helping brands in their quest to gain a better understanding than previous generations. Over 54 per cent are willing to share more information if it means a better experience, and this willingness to share provides a real opportunity for brands to work with consumers in a more open and collaborative way than ever before.