As the largest generational cohort in Canada since the Baby Boomers, the Millennial Generation - or 'Gen Y' is transforming how companies and brands develop long-term customer loyalty, according to research from Aimia. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The study, entitled 'Canadian Millennial Loyalty Survey', compares the attitudes of Millennial and non-Millennial consumers in Canada, and reveals how the definition of loyalty is shifting, and what companies will need to address in order to connect with the Millennial Generation.

For example, the findings show that some three in four (78%) of Canadian Millennials are more likely to choose a brand that offers a loyalty or rewards programme over a brand that does not. In addition, Millennials have extremely high expectations of their brand relationships and demand immediate gratification from reward programmes.

The proliferation of social media and mobile devices is having a profound impact on how Millennials interact with brands. Nearly half of Millennials (44%) surveyed are willing to promote products or brands through social media in exchange for rewards. Furthermore, over one quarter of Millennials (27%) expressed high interest in using a mobile device as a substitute for carrying a plastic loyalty card versus 9% of non-Millennials.

According to Rick Ferguson, lead author of the report and Vice President of Knowledge Development for Aimia, "At nearly one third of the overall population, Generation Y already exerts a strong influence on Canadian culture, politics and commerce. It is important that marketers understand how to effectively engage with Millennials and leverage their customer data to build sustained, reciprocal and meaningful relationships that increase profits and drive long-term enterprise value."