Conditional Love: Millennials + Loyalty

Run Time: about 20 minutes

The “M” word—Millennial, a term that’s launched a thousand eye rolls. Even the laziest observer of pop-culture media can parrot back the sentiment agreed upon by so many op-eds—those born after 1984 (a debatable date) are an impulsive bunch, who are as entitled as they are fickle. But what if we’ve all got it wrong?

There are roughly 86 million Millennials in the US with an estimated $200 billion in annual buying power. Simply put, their purchase behavior matters. It’s no wonder that marketers are consistently trying to understand them. But in this rapidly evolving landscape where every view, every click, every tendency can be quantified, it’s not easy to get, let alone retain, Millennial attention.

In this episode of THE POINT OF ATTACHMENT, we explore the brand loyalty of Millennials and attempt to answer two main questions:

1. Do Millennials care about brands?
2. And are they brand loyal?

To get to the bottom of the matter, we’ve examined a fun pocket of the branding universe: the world of whiskey.


Photo Credit: FOOD 52

Why whiskey? It’s safe to say that the caramel-colored liquor has been having a moment. It may or may not have been a coincidence, but ever since Don Draper re-ignited our nostalgia for the Old Fashioned, there has been a boom in the spirit’s popularity. Mark Gillespie, host of Whiskey Cast weighs in:


When you had shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire and you see product placement in movies where popular characters are sipping whiskey, that really helped build awareness as well among consumers.


Photo Credit: AMC Networks

While movies and TV are certainly an influence on, as well as a reflection of cocktail culture, there are other reasons behind whiskey’s renaissance. Post recession, markets have shifted, technology’s evolved and now consumers are faced with more quality options than ever before. So, why commit when you can experiment? Spirit industry consultant, Robin Robinson is right there with us:


The Millennial desire to experiment with everything, matched with the amount and quantity and quality it’s gonna be hard to keep someone brand loyal. Boy, that’s the the $64,000 question.

Gray Blue, the Head of Business Development for seems to think there’s a direct correlation between Millennial experimentation and technology—namely, internet access and the rise of social media.


The internet changed everything. When you’ve got a connected world and you all of the sudden have access to all of the brands and all the research and all of the information and all of the experiences, for lack of a better term, surrounding that brand, all of the sudden the entire world is open to you.


With more choices than ever before, the younger generation has raised its standards. Today’s consumers not only require their product to perform, they’re also on the hunt for authenticity. The brands they invest in need to deeply resonate with them. But once Millennials find a product they believe in— they’re more than loyal— they’re vocal. As Gray puts it:


I think Millennials as a whole aren’t flighty or averse to brand loyalty, what we’re looking for is
the brand to be loyal to.


The Point of Attachment’s theme music is by Daniel Munkus

Featured photo credit: Scott Strazzante, SF Chronicle

The Point of Attachment is a podcast series developed and produced by UTA Brand Studio. It focuses on what draws people to brands through the lens of culture, design and storytelling. It is hosted by Larry Vincent and produced by Frances Harlow.

3 comments on “Conditional Love: Millennials + Loyalty

  1. JuliAnn Blam on

    Not that I’m a Millennial by any stretch, but I parent a bunch of them, and I work in an industry that works to attract them. I have recently noticed in them a yearning of sorts, to go and do things they did as a child. Certain vacation spots are now back on the list of where they want to go this summer in order to show their young children what they enjoyed back in the “old days”. Pulling out their old Nintendo has been an adventure shared with their 5 year old. One had a desire for a VW Bug because we once had one and they remembered the commercials from when they were little. (That desire was dashed when VW turned out to be just another big business who didn’t really express the whole truth.) In thinking about this vis-a-vis this podcast, I think Millennials may be looking for “authenticity”, something that rings true and is trusted, just like those memories of childhood.

  2. Bretton on

    That millennials are looking for authentic experiences makes a lot of sense to me (as a millennial). In the digital world with smart phones in every pocket it’s impossible to hide when company’s say one thing and do another. We’re jaded, and we look for access, accountability, and transparency from the companies we deal with. That’s why, in my opinion, there’s a rapidly developing cottage industry movement happening with things like airbnb, and etsy. It’s why we advocate for local food. I think we’re exhausted by stories of “corporate greed” and we’re looking for hope and things we can support.


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