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Millennials trust people over brands

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Reviews and testimonials from everyday people – what marketers call user-generated content – may prove to be one of the better ways for employee benefits professionals to reach millennials.

That was the word Tuesday from Laura Marzi, assistant vice president of group benefits marketing at The Hartford, speaking on the opening day of the 2014 Benefits Selling Expo.

Marzi said that user-generated material provides an “authentic” tone that few companies can match.

According to new research on millennials and user-generated content by Crowdtap and Ipsos Media CT, millennials are, in fact, most influenced by user-generated content.

The research found that millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming different media across several devices. User-generated content makes up 30 percent of that time (5.4 hours), second only to traditional media like print, television and radio at 33 percent. But millennials trust information found in user-generated content 50 percent more than information from traditional media sources and find user-generated content 35 percent more memorable than other sources.

Lindsey Pollak, an expert on millennial matters who serves as the spokesperson behind Hartford’s campaign to reach millennials, told the audience that finding new ways to reach these latest entrants into the workplace is critical given the changes in demographics that are coming.

Millennials account for 36 percent of the workforce today. By 2025, they will account for 75 percent of the global workforce, she said.

As they assume leadership – and benefits purchasing – roles, Pollak said the industry will want to keep in the mind some of the key differences between millennials and the earlier generations that occupy the “mash-up” in today’s workplace.

Speed is a priority to millennials, she said. Millennials also want to see that your company is really thinking about their wants.

As “digital natives,” tech is obviously not an after-thought for millennials, she said, but they do want and appreciate face-to-face interaction, though they view digital interactions to be just as intimate and personal as other types of interactions.

Millennials, she said, also don’t see the divide between home and work. They’ll shop at work and work after hours. They don’t identify with the idea of work-life balance. It’s all integrated for them.

Reaching millennials requires customizing things, Pollak said.

“They are part of the customization nation,” she said. “If you’re a millennial, you didn’t get a stuffed bear as a child. You went to a build-a-bear workshop. You didn’t get a record album, you went to iTunes or Spotify. Everything is customized.”

That thinking is what drove the Hartford to develop its DisabilityFLEX line, flexible, voluntary coverage that allows customers to tailor disability insurance to their needs, including when coverage kicks in and how long it lasts.

User-generated content, Marzi said, has helped her company market DisabilityFLEX.  

“Thanks to my disability insurance, I did not have to worry about being able to pay my bills,” Fluffy01, a woman in her 40s from Missouri wrote in a post on the Hartford’s user-generated content area of its website.

“People are used to ratings and reviews, so this is a natural,” Marzi said. “It’s also information that I could never get through compliance, not in a million years.”


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