Making Millennials Trust

WHY MILLENNIALS MISTRUST BUSINESS AND HOW TO MAKE THEM TRUST YOUR PRODUCT MORE Millennials are now the world’s biggest consumer, yet they do not trust the traditional pillars of society: which means big problems for business. Trust being a primary driver of their consumption, earning their trust is crucial to securing their custom.


By 2020, millennials will be the world’s largest spenders with global incomes topping $14tn, making them very important customers that business cannot ignore. These 20-to-30-somethings are growing in both size and spending power, fast becoming the core demographic of customers for most businesses. Yet, unlike the Baby Boomers that came before, millennials feel that their wants and needs are not being met by current business practices.


One defining feature of millennials in the West is their mistrust in the traditional pillars of society. According to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll, millennials have little faith in Big Business, traditional advertising and media. They tend to be sceptical of faceless corporations, labelling them unfavourably as the “establishment” – the very same establishment whom they see as ruthlessly and inculpably choreographing global issues like 2008’s Recession.

With the world’s largest consumer group holding such a negative image of business, it would be reasonable to think the forecast isn’t looking too bright for businesses. But all is not lost. The key to working with millennials lies in understanding how they work. And that means understanding who, how and why they trust.

How Millennials Trust

According to sociologist of consumers, Dr. Michael Hals, “For millennials, trust comes from shared values and commitments to common causes”. Business can no longer assume customers will blindly trust them to provide the highest quality product; trust must be earnt, demonstrating why you deserve to be trusted. Millennials value belonging to a community and, as such, value the opinions and actions of members of their own community. Following the corrosion of trust in the “establishment”, many millennials do not consider businesses to be a part of their community, thus seeing no reason to trust them. Before making a purchasing decision they want a business to prove that they can be trusted by embodying shared values.


How to Join the Community

Fundamental here is that millennials do not want to just buy a product, they want to buy a product that fits their lifestyle and aligns with their values. For your business, then, securing sales depends on knowing your customers’ shared values. This requires a radical update to the traditional industry-knows-best-approach by putting the customer at the heart of the business and shaping your products, business ethos and practices around your customers.

Sound scary?

In reality, making this change can actually be relatively straight-forward. It starts with taking a long, hard look at your customer and understanding their world. This simple act not only enables you to know your customer better but is also a step towards gaining their trust as they see you trying to become part of their community – a no brainer, really!


With millennials set to become the world’s largest consumer group, understanding how they work and gaining their trust is key to ensuring their custom. They are an entirely new group of consumers who have a different outlook on the world and expect business to follow suit. As such, business-as-usual is no longer enough; you need to rebuild trust. And that starts by understanding who your customers are and the values they expect to see in your product.

Billy Jones Danji