Transformists trump Millennials as most powerful influencers


Study suggests brands should banish age-targeted marketing.

The meme-loving, avocado toast-chomping generation of Millennials is no longer the influencer powerhouse brands once thought, according to new research.

A study by Digitas and Insider Inc. of more than 1,600 U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 unearthed a new set of consumers, dubbed Transformists.

This cohort is digitally-savvy, ambitious and embodies a change-for-the-better mentality.

"In the digital era, sorting people by age misses the boat entirely," said Jenifer Berman, SVP of Marketing at Insider Inc. "Many of the more ambitious ones who grew up in the digital age share in common distinct likes, dislikes and ways of behaving that cross generational lines. The key is to understand that this group – transformists – are uniquely savvy and demanding when it comes to seeking information and acting on it."

There are 38 million Transformists in the U.S., representing 24 percent of those aged 18 to 54. Two thirds of Transformists are Millennials, but only one third of Millennials are Transformists.

A breakdown of the demographic found that 22 percent of Transformists are African American, 47 percent have a college degree or higher and 62 percent work full time.

These guys and girls are two times more likely than the general population to act on content they’re consuming. That means they share it faster and it plays a role in everyday decision-making.

On a weekly basis, 85 percent of Transformists seek information on local news, entertainment, current events, national news, and food and cooking.

Around 65 percent seek business and finance content, which is 1.6 times more than the general population. The majority gather this information from mobile apps, while one in three feed from social media. Instagram appears to be the most popular app.

"Transformists live by their values and are driven by high expectations -- both for themselves and for the people and brands around them," said Jonathan Tatlow, EVP, head of strategy at Digitas. "Brands that understand and connect with these Transformists can benefit from their loyalty -- and turn them into powerful advocates."

So what does all this mean for marketers?

Look beyond Millennials
For too long, marketers have been fishing in the same Millennial hotspots — but the swath of Transformists goes well past the age of 30. Marketers should also speak to Transformist consumers in their 30s, 40s and 50s who share the same go-getter mindset as their younger peers.

Don’t hide your values
Transformists don’t want or need everything to be politicized -- but they value knowing what a brand stands for, what its purpose is, and how it’s working to affect change. Brands should speak authentically and openly about their mission and how they are trying to make a difference beyond their organization.

Get newsy
Transformists are unabashed information-seekers. Brands should choose media platforms for advertising and content that Transformists gravitate towards, and consider engaging with information that acts as a learning experience and satisfies their curiosity, rather than relying on marketing platitudes.

Appeal to their ambition and adventure
These people are self-avowed adventure seekers and go-getters. Brands should find ways for these consumers to seek out new experiences that drive personal growth.

Encourage word of mouth
Transformists are well-versed in issues and products, and well-connected in their communities. Brands can gain their loyalty by encouraging feedback and providing a platform to share informed and respected opinions.

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