74 Percent of Digital Natives Tired of Brands Shouting at Them

A study of 2,000 consumers across generations, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, finds 74 percent of millennials (20-39) and Gen Z (16-19) object to being targeted by brands in their social media feeds. In fact, 56 percent of these digital natives report cutting back or actually stopping use of social media sites entirely due to advertisements in their news feed. [click to Tweet]

Brands are eagerly trying to build trust and loyalty with consumers in the U.S. through social media, but it appears many may be missing the mark according to a new Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies. Results reveal that direct targeting on social via ads can actually lose you customers, and that a far more effective method of reaching today’s digital generations is to be present on the channels they frequent, and let them seek you out. An infographic highlighting the study findings is here: http://www.lithium.com/pdfs/infographic/lithium_extreme_expectations_study.pdf

“Pushing out ads on social media is the surest way for brands to alienate consumers, especially the younger generations who make up more than 50 percent of the population,” said Rob Tarkoff, President and CEO of Lithium Technologies. “That’s a lot of purchasing power, and it’s only going to grow as these generations reach their prime spending years. The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.”

“I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look,” said 23-year-old recent graduate, Mallory Benham. “Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.”

Today’s younger consumers, raised almost entirely in the digital era, are much more likely to trust information they seek out themselves – whether on blogs, websites or online communities. The survey indicates where younger and older generations place their trust in online sources.


Where’s the Trust?



Younger Generations ( Gen Z and millennials)

Older Generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers)

Online sites with Product Reviews  (e.g., Amazon, Yelp)



Company/Manufacturer web sites



Communities of like-minded individuals (e.g., chat rooms, forums, user groups)



People they follow online



Social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)



Celebrity endorsements



Trust in online sources is fairly strong across generations but the results show that the younger, digital natives tend to place more trust in them – something brands need to bear in mind as millennials and Gen Z mature.

Millennials and Gen Z comprise over 50 percent of the population (Goldman Sachsi), so meeting their expectations should be of utmost importance to brands. When millennials reach out online, 79 percent of them expect a response back within the same day, compared to only 73 percent for Gen X and 71 percent for Baby Boomers. Brands who are not actively responding, monitoring and engaging with their customers online stand to lose them and jeopardize brand loyalty.

“Social implies a two-way conversation and that means paying attention and participating,” said Tarkoff.  “Brands who break that contract are going to lose a generation of customers.”

About Lithium:
Lithium builds trusted relationships between the world’s best brands and their customers, helping people get answers and share their experiences. Customers in more than 34 countries rely on Lithium to help them connect, engage, and understand their total community. With more than 100 million monthly visits over all Lithium communities and 750 million online profiles scored by Klout, Lithium has one of the largest digital footprints in the world. Using that data and the company’s software, Lithium customers boost sales, reduce service costs, spark innovation, and build long-term brand loyalty and advocacy. To find out how Lithium can transform your business—and to share the experience enjoyed by 300 other leading brands around the world, visit www.lithium.com, join our community at community.lithium.com, or follow us on Twitter @LithiumTech. Lithium is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco.

The Lithium® logo is a registered Service Mark of Lithium Technologies. All trademarks and product names are the property of their respective owners.

The adult portion of this survey was conducted online within the United States from January 19-21, 2016 among 2,057 adults ages 18 and older, by Harris Poll on behalf of Lithium Technologies via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

The youth portion of this survey was conducted online within the United States from January 19-29, 2016 among 317 youths ages 16-18, by Harris Poll on behalf of Lithium Technologies via its YouthQuery omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, school urbanicity, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

i “What if I told you,” by Goldman Sachs, 2015.

Like this article?

Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Facebook
Share via email

Other posts that might be of interest