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Bazaarvoice and the Center for Generational Kinetics Release New Study on How Millennials Shop

  • 44% percent of Millennials trust experienced consumers over friends and family – versus 31% of Boomers.
  • 69% of Boomers trust friends and family over consumers when it's time to buy – versus 56% of Millennials.
  • 51% of Millennials state that user-generated content (UGC) from strangers is more likely to influence their purchase decisions than recommendations from friends, family and colleagues – only 34% of Boomers agree.
  • 84% of Millennials report that UGC from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy.

Austin, Texas – January 30, 2012 – Millennials – currently in their mid-teens to mid-30s – will have more spending power than any other generation by 2017. According to Talking to Strangers, a new study released today by Bazaarvoice in partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics and Kelton Research, Millennials shop in a whole new way from previous generations. The study finds that while all generations trust opinions of other consumers over brand messages, Millennials are far more dependent on these opinions when making purchases and, unlike their forebears, are just as likely to rely on the experiences of strangers they consider “people like them” as trusted friends and family.

Far from being overwhelmed by information, this generation is constantly connected and dependent on social. In fact, 84% of Millennials are comforted that they have access to the opinions and experiences of strangers, and they strongly feel that companies should offer more ways for them to share opinions and experiences online.

Talking to Strangers: 30-Second Take-Aways

The new study, available here, offers a fresh picture of Millennials as they research and buy today. This socially dependent generation actively uses Facebook (80%), as well as YouTube (49%), Twitter (28%) and Google+ (25%), and are much more likely to share both positive and negative experiences with brands via social channels (42% and 32% respectively) than by emailing their friends or calling up the company. This generation often understands social better than the brands trying to reach them, and makes its own rules of commerce.

Millennials Don’t Buy Without Consumer Input

Millennials have been exposed to more advertising messages than any other generation in history. As they browse store aisles or contemplate the “buy” button, they trust UGC more than other sources – and won’t complete many purchases without it.

  • Majority (65%) of Millennials find that UGC is more honest and genuine than other information they find online, and 86% feel that UGC is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand, service, or products.
  • Over half (51%) of Millennials trust UGC more than other information on a company website (16%), news articles about the company (14%), or advertising (6%) when looking for information about a brand, product, or service.
  • 84% of Millennials report that UGC from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy.
  • Top purchases that Millennials won’t complete without UGC include big ticket items like major electronics (44%) and cars (40%), as well as hotel stays (39%), insurance policies (30%) and travel to specific destinations (32%).

Millennials Trust Anonymous Consumers

Millennials want to hear from friends and family, but when the time comes to lay down cash, the opinions of strangers like them – especially those with direct experience of the brand, product, or service – have more weight than they do for Boomers. Millennials are also much more likely to turn to social channels, not just personal connections, to find feedback from experts and people with common interests.

  • 44% of Millennials are more likely to trust experienced consumers (who happen to be strangers).
  • 51% of Millennials state that UGC from strangers is more likely to influence their purchase decisions than recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues – only 34% of Boomers agree.
  • 69% of Boomers are more likely to trust loved ones (rather than other consumers) when it’s time to buy, versus 56% of Millennials.
  • Millennials are more than three times as likely as Boomers (22% vs. 7%) to turn to social channels when looking for opinions on products or services to buy.
  • As part of the research process, more than twice as many Millennials would look for UGC on the site where they were making the purchase as would solicit Facebook friends or Twitter followers (45% vs. 22%).
  • Far from being overwhelmed by information, most Millennials (84%) are comforted that they have access to the opinions and experiences of strangers.

Millennials Question Companies’ Motives – But They Still Want to Engage

Millennials question the motives of companies that collect customer opinions. They believe that companies only care about how they look to other shoppers – they don’t really take feedback seriously. Millennials strongly feel that other consumers care more about their opinions than brands do, but they still want to be part of the conversation.

  • 71% of Millennials say companies care about customer opinions simply because they impact how other consumers will view the brand, rather than truly caring what their customers think – and Boomers agree (73%).
  • The majority of Millennials (73%) and Boomers (70%) agree that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do – and that’s why they continue to share their opinions online.
  • Millennials view companies that include customer feedback on their websites as “honest” (66%) and “credible” (53%).
  • Millennials (87%) and Boomers (86%) agree that companies shouldn’t edit customer feedback by correcting spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Millennials feel more strongly than Boomers (64% vs. 53%) that companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online in the future – and they’ll continue to participate.

Comments on the News

  • “Millennials have grown up in a world where word of mouth is shared and found just as easily on a blog or in a product review as it is around the water cooler or at a dinner party. The result is that this generation expects to have access to opinions from people like them no matter where they are or how they shop. Brands that don’t understand and embrace this shift are making a huge mistake as this generation becomes a dominant economic force.” – Brett Hurt, Founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice.
  • “Asking for feedback isn’t enough anymore. To make big gains, brands need to make Millennial customers the hero by displaying their opinions and experiences everywhere in the purchase cycle – and across mobile, tablet, site, and store. And brands can prove that they are taking these opinions to heart by changing products and policies based on social data and showing Millennials the results of this change.” – Erin Mulligan Nelson, CMO of Bazaarvoice

Additional Resources

  • Methodology: The Talking to Strangers survey was conducted among 1,013 nationally representative Americans ages 18 and over by Kelton Research between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, 2011. More information, as well as the full report, is available at
  • Follow @Bazaarvoice on Twitter or visit

About Bazaarvoice

Bazaarvoice’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions have powered more than 280 billion customer conversations on brand web sites like Best Buy, Blue Shield of California, Costco, Dell, Macy’s, P&G, Panasonic, QVC, and USAA. The company connects organizations to their influencers through a unique network that reaches hundreds of millions of consumers around the globe, enabling authentic customer-powered marketing. Through syndication, analytics, partnerships, and consulting, Bazaarvoice brings the voice of the customer to the center of their clients’ business strategy, proving “social” can drive measured revenue growth and cost savings for manufacturing, retail, travel, and financial services companies. Headquartered in Austin, the company has offices in Amsterdam, London, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, and Sydney. For more information and access to client success stories, visit, read the blog at, and follow on Twitter at

About The Center for Generational Kinetics

The Center for Generational Kinetics converts generational trends and predictabilities into breakthrough opportunities.

We study what works to make the most of every generation in the marketplace and workplace. We then look at why it works and how you can benefit from that knowledge. The outcome is cutting-edge content, training, and thought leadership designed for leaders who demand results. This is what we do. It's all we do.

At The Center for Generational Kinetics we focus all our efforts on delivering tangible ROI for our clients around the world. Learn more at, via, and at

About Kelton

Kelton is a market research and strategy consultancy that works with some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands to help them better understand and connect with consumers. Kelton provides highly customized qualitative and quantitative research for a wide variety of companies across multiple sectors including many in the Fortune 500.