Reliance on social media and smart phone apps to foster brand loyalty could be a mistaken strategy if the latest research among young people holds water.

Research from YouGov and GT Nexus found that being “cool” or “edgy” to generate loyalty among millennials was a “useless myth”.

The lack of a strong social media presence only influenced 5% of millennials in terms of brand loyalty, the lack of a mobile app, 4% and the lack of a “cool” website 3%.

Guy Courtin, vice-president of industry and solutions strategy at GT Nexus, said: “In recent years, manufacturers and retailers have paid a lot of attention to consumer-facing marketing factors like websites, apps and social media to attract and keep millennials loyal to their brands.

“But this research suggests that behind-the-scenes actions that occur in operations, production and supply chain – which directly impact product availability, quality, ethics and the environment – are a lot more important when it comes to influencing the brand loyalty of millennials.”

Courtin said that companies were investing significantly in technology but not necessarily in the right places. “Supply chain excellence ties directly to the health of the brand,” he said.

The survey found that some of the most common reasons among the 55% of millennials who switched their favourite brands in the past 12 months, were:

  • the brand has issues with product quality – 41%
  • the brand does not treat or pay its workers fairly – 28%
  • the brand is not environmentally friendly – 21%

The survey also found that food and beverage was the product category in which millennials were most likely to switch brands.