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SALE! Why sales won't create Millennial loyalty to your brand

Whenever I receive SALE! emails or see an annual seasonal SALE! being offered by a company, my first thought is that they are trying to incentivize customers to give them a try and develop brand loyalty. My second thought is how that doesn’t work like they think, especially when talking about Millennials. Millennial’s brand loyalty isn’t created by offering significant discounts, but by revolving your brand around stories that connect to their identity.

Taking what we already know about Millennials (3 Things to Know about Millennials)it is an easy to see that we won’t buy from you because of sales, but because you add to their story and identity. Thus, the difference between sales and brand loyalty is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Extrinsic is doing something for a tangible reward, while intrinsic is doing something for the pleasure of doing it.

When you offer a sale, you appealing to a person’s extrinsic motivation; to save money or receive a perk. Problem with that is it’s not sustainable, because when a competitor offers your product/service lower, you will lose your client base if you don’t stay cheaper. More than that, Millennials won’t even look at you twice if you only advertise sales and not a story. Sales alone fail to appeal to our sense of identity and story. It's not that we aren't interested in saving money, but we are more interested in adding to our collecting of experiences.

"Thus, the difference between sales and brand loyalty is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Extrinsic is doing something for a tangible reward, while intrinsic is doing something for the pleasure of doing it."

Intrinsic motivation is the foundation to brand loyalty. Customers buy your product over others not because of price, but because of what the brand means to them. The feeling you have wearing a piece of jewelry that defines who you are, or the atmosphere in the coffee house where you spend your time working, are examples of intrinsic motivations. A brand should create a feeling of community, tell a story, and create an identity.

Millennials don't go into a new coffee house because there was a SALE! They went in for the experience and stayed because you connected with it. That’s how you connect your brand to Millennials, by appealing to their intrinsic motivations and create a feeling we can connect to. By investing in your brands advertising, you can create a place Millennial loyalty is almost automatic.