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UK Insights

Global centennials: The next wave of influencers, disruptors and consumers

Henry Tucker

UK Managing Partner

Shoppers 05.07.2018 / 15:00

centennials fragmentnation

What do brands need to know about this important generation? Part of our #FragmentNation series.

Centennials have already eclipsed Millennials as the global cohort driving trends, and they’ll soon be a core consumer group across a variety of categories. As the oldest of the generation turns 21 this year, it’s time to ask how brands keep pace with their values, beliefs and expectations to avoid being left behind.

Meet the Centennials: Vigilant, resourceful, and open

Centennials are vigilant because they recognise that social, environmental, political and financial concerns abound, and that hiding from them won’t make them go away. In the UK, 66% of Centennials say they’re planning to put money away for their family’s future in the next 12 months (2017 Kantar Consulting Global Monitor).

They are resourceful because they choose to take the future into their own hands by developing the skills they need to thrive in an unstable world. They expect resources to become more scarce. In response, they develop problem-solving skills. 62% of UK Centennials say “I’m constantly striving to improve myself and my abilities in as many ways as possible.”

Centennials expect and value diversity in all aspects of their lives, from culture to politics to gender to race to sexuality to ability. They live by the slogan “you do you”, giving themselves and others permission to be different and to express those differences.

Carving their own path

Centennials, like previous generations, are being shaped by their formative years. Growing up in a time of resource scarcity and disruption, Centennials have been shaped by a lack of control in a disruptive world, exposure to diverse ideas, and the ability and pressure to always be connected. They are digital dependents, never having known a world without Google.

Millennials, especially older Millennials, were shaped by rapidly evolving digital technology and a more open global world. The volatility Millennials experienced created positive expectations for their futures. The volatility Centennials are witnessing has more negative effects, creating downward pressure on incomes and increasing inequalities.

Centennials will have to be smarter about managing their lives and planning for their futures just to stay where they are, let alone achieve relative affluence. Both Centennials and Millennials demand more from the brands they choose: they are purpose-driven, looking for the ‘why’ behind the brand.

They are digitally engaged and seek out experiences. Centennials will build on the post-materialist mindset of Millennials. We can expect Centennials to sharpen the focus. Brands will have to look for new opportunities to find experience-driven growth, which may not link directly to their traditional product offering. The experience economy will not be a separate market or an add-on; it will go right through the heart of the way that markets work.

Connecting with Centennials

1. Think “Mobile First”, but not “Mobile Because”

Centennials are used to getting information and entertainment when, where and how they want it, with 85% in the UK reporting using a mobile phone to access the internet. But just because it is possible to be constantly connected doesn’t mean they want to be on their devices all the time. Just over a third of UK Centennials say they use their phone too much, about the same as global Millennials.

It is therefore critical for brands to offer genuine value in exchange for the time spent engaging with them. Brands looking to connect with Centennials must think mobile first when building content and commerce platforms, but user experience and good design are critical. Centennials are quick to move on when your experience doesn’t provide what they want or need.

It follows that understanding the unique value you can provide, whether it is convenience, personalisation, privacy or some combination of these, is critical to building a proposition and communications strategy that appeals to Centennials. Relying only on paid ads will not give brands the exposure they need to inform or engage them.

Valuing both convenience and anonymity, UK Centennials will pay a premium for brands that gain their trust through creating zones of privacy, and that differentiate their offers based on how much data Centennials are willing to volunteer.

2. Acknowledge that the social shopping revolution has arrived

Centennials are expanding the definition of shopping to include their digital networks. People they have never met IRL (in real life) often have as much influence over their product choices as a friend or family member. But Centennial shopping isn’t just about following influencers and taking their recommendations. This generation is taking advantage of shopping opportunities on their social networks. Driven by social shopping trends and capabilities from Asia, global Centennials will make shopping through social media a mainstream experience, rewarding companies that make it the easiest to connect while buying, while amplifying the reach and fame of the most trusted influencers. At the same time, however, they are moving steadily away from social media to social messaging. One lesson they have learnt from Millennials is the pitfalls of growing up in front of a digital audience.

As Centennials continue to develop their social networks, brands will need to explore new ways to connect with Centennials social groups, and also ensure a seamless journey from discovery to purchase.

3. Expect, and prepare for, outsized influence from Centennials and youthful markets

Centennials may be young, but their technological skills usually outstrip their parents’. Many families look to their younger members to gather product information, compare reviews and advise on the purchase process. Global Centennials are passionate about keeping up with what’s going on in the world, and their beliefs drive their purchase decisions.

Centennials often influence family decisions on products and retailers by informing their parents about brands that align with their values, and those that haven’t kept up with their expectations. Because of this, Centennials are developing opinions on a variety of categories earlier than previous generations – think household goods and furniture. By the time they reach young adulthood, expect Centennials to have preconceived notions of your brand or category, and to remember good or bad experiences with it, and reputational issues associated with it.

As Centennials age into young adulthood, they will reshape categories and upend industries. Brands that know where to look can begin to read the signs, and anticipate how Centennials will influence their future. Understanding this generation’s values and motivations is a critical first step in setting yourself up for success, as Centennials take the reins and drive global markets.

Source : Kantar Consulting

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