Once upon a time young Baby Boomers had a saying: “don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now their children and grandchildren who make up the Millennial generation are doing them one better: “don’t trust anyone, period.”
That’s the seemingly sorry takeaway from a Harvard University study of U.S. Millennials’ attitudes toward our society’s leading institutions. Focusing on 18- to 29-year-olds, the survey asked respondents to identify institutions they feel are trustworthy “all of the time,” “most of the time,” “some of the time,” or “never.” The U.S. Military was the only one that at least half of Millennials felt deserved their trust all or most of the time.
But in adversity lies opportunity. Brands and companies have a chance to lower Millennials’ shield of mistrust, if they can find the right messaging and provide products and experiences that deliver value and signal that they are authentic and real. Have something specific and relevant to offer and you can occupy the high ground of confidence, relatability and reliability that many big institutions have lost. And market research provides the crucial data to shine a light on which paths to take to that higher ground. If, that is, the research is done right – and, crucially, in a way that can engage those mistrustful Millennials who seem ready to tune out at the very moment they’re coming into their own as the dominant force in driving government, commerce, and social mores.
In a moment, you’ll see some ideas about how to cut through Millennial mistrust with Millennial-friendly research approaches. But first, here’s a grid showing what you’re up against – a Millennial mindset that seems to regard institutions’ messages and actions as suspect until proven otherwise.
From the 2016 questionnaire, here’s what Millennials said about trusting the following institutions to do the right thing:
Two things that do resonate with Millennials are rewarding encounters with technology and a belief in the wisdom of crowds. As Washington Post blogger Emily Badger phrases it, “I don’t trust you, Random Guy Giving Me a Ride Home, but I do trust the 4.9-star average rating of all the people who’ve been in your car before.” That’s because, for Millennials, it “is about trust between one person and the crowd.”
This is encouraging. It means you have good field position (to use a football metaphor) to score with Millennials. You just have to have the right game plan. Connect with them on the right devices and reward them with the right kinds of survey experiences, and you’ll get this wary generation of doubters and skeptics to trust you enough to give you the quality consumer data you need.
Millennials are ready to trust and engage with your surveys if you show you’ve got the technological savvy to give them a smartphone experience they’ll admire and enjoy. The best true-mobile research technology can connect you with more than 700,000 Millennials who use the Surveys on the Go® app. They’ve certified their trust and engagement by giving the app consistent average ratings of at least 4.5 stars out of 5 (you can check out tens of thousands of unsolicited ratings and reviews for the Surveys On The Go® app by visiting its pages at the App Store and Google Play). To learn more about how you can connect with Millennial consumers for research that both parties can trust, just click here.