Dawson's Digi:Blog

Current and Emerging Digital Marketing Trends


Millennials and User-Generated Content: Why is UGC so important to this generation?


Millennials are the largest (most powerful) generational group regarding online purchasing activities since the baby boomers, the millennials size and buying power make this consumer group attractive targets. It is estimated that half of all online spending is due to millennials (Taken Smith, 2012). A term of ‘digital natives’ has been coined referring to millennials with the suggestion that “individuals born within the digital world inherently grasp the digital logic and behave accordingly” (Serazio, 2015). Millennials are inherently aligned with technology, millennials are the first ‘digital natives’, experiencing the world in seemingly antithetic way as apposed to other generations (Serazio, 2015).

User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is online content created by consumers rather than brands or paid professionals (Daugherty et al., 2008), involving a variety of online channels such as blog posts, YouTube videos, review websites (TripAdvisor, Yelp), social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). UGC is an important means as to which consumers communicate and express themselves with other consumers online (Boyd and Ellison, 2008). UGC is aligned with, but not identical with, electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), defined as “any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the internet” (Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004 p.39). The need to understand UGC and how it exemplifies across different digital outlets becomes important for marketers who are concerned with the co-creation of their brands through digital platforms (Smith et al., 2012).

Here are some examples of UGC through contrasting outlets:

Facebook – Many brand pages on Facebook have the ability to let consumers leave reviews and star ratings toward the service they received from the brand, this UGC is imperative toward a brands reputation. An example of a Facebook review page for a local clothing brand: Urban Industry Facebook

Urban Industry Facebook Reviews

Urban Industry Facebook Reviews

TripAdvisor – TripAdvisor is used by consumers to review brands generally upon experiences, this UGC review page is generally used for review experiences in restaurants and other outlets. A high rating created by satisfied consumers can facilitate (free) marketing opportunities for brands. For example, a TripAdvisor page for Burger Brothers Brighton creates an advertising opportunity to potential customers searching for places to eat around Brighton, this brands satisfied consumers through UGC has created the local restaurant indispensable advertising opportunities through its number 4 ranking out of 801 places to eat in Brighton.

TripAdvisor Burger Brothers Brighton

TripAdvisor Burger Brothers Brighton

TripAdvisor Burger Brothers Brighton

TripAdvisor Burger Brothers Brighton


YouTube – YouTube offers a varied platform for UGC, consumers can interact in many ways with brands with video techniques. A common trend for clothing brands is were a consumer reviews and tries the garment on through a video, giving a potential consumer an opportunity to see the garment worn and in a different view to an image.

Instigating User-Generated Content

Brands, knowing the positive (or negative) effect successful UGC can have on a brand sometimes instigate and offer consumers the chance to create a UGC experience offering online interaction with the brand, this can create:

  • Affinity toward the brand
  • Higher level of trust toward a brand
  • An organic level of content creation
  • Interaction and UGC with the brand

Millennials and User-Generated Content

A recent study by Ipsos detailed the trust the millennials hold toward UGC on the web as apposed to traditional media sources. Logically, UGC should not be trusted as it is content created from unreliable, non-professional individuals with nothing more but the motivation to express opinion online. However, Ipsos‘ study indicated that millennials trust UGC just as much as they trust professional media sources, as detailed in the infographic below (Knoblauch, 2014).

(Crowdtap, 2014)

(Crowdtap, 2014)

  • Social media is the most prominent platform that millennials use with 71 percent participating at least once a day.
  • Millennials spend 30 percent of their time with UGC as apposed to other media sources.
Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 19.19.50

(Crowdtap, 2014)

  • Content used to be constructed by professionals creating websites or writing blogs. Now anyone can write blogs, write reviews and post a social media update resulting in UGC.
(Crowdtap, 2014)

(Crowdtap, 2014)

  • Millennials understand UGC to be a memorable and trusted source of content, this is surprising and awakening figure due to the un-reliability of the content.
(Crowdtap, 2014)

(Crowdtap, 2014)

  • A vast 74 percent of millennials trust product info through WOM effects as apposed to 34 percent trusting traditional media outlets, such as TV.


(Crowdtap, 2014)

(Crowdtap, 2014)

  • UGC, due to Ispos’ study is 20 percent more influential than all other media types.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 19.01.23

  • Millennials as a generation are more influenced and place more trust on UGC as apposed to the boomer generation.


UGC is created by the vast online community, marketers can only engage, harbour and enhance the consumer experience online to foster UGC as a benefactor toward brand engagement. It is suggested that brands:

  • Optimise mobile – 85 percent of millennials own a mobile, enhancing brand pages, websites and other platforms on mobile so that a consumer can engage effectively may foster positive UGC.
  • Focus on social communities as apposed to life stages/styles, millennials hold high regard to their social identities, brands addressing millennials as a community rather than a generation will foster higher engagement.
  • Millennials hold their intelligence and integrity to high regard, brands being relevant and engaging through topical situations online can foster brand evangelists and positive engagement (Patel, 2015).


  • Millennials are a large community, a brand not being transparent or honest arrives at opportunities that allows for the powerful group of millennials to exploit brands dishonesty, flaws or hidden secrets.
  • Do not take millennials for being a lazy and over-sensitive generation. Millennials are the most diverse generation ever, brands not realising and accepting millennials buying power will loose engagement with this consumer group.


Boyd, D. and Ellison, N., 2010. Social network sites: definition, history, and scholarship. IEEE Engineering Management Review3(38), pp.16-31.

Daugherty, T., Eastin, M.S. and Bright, L., 2008. Exploring consumer motivations for creating user-generated content. Journal of Interactive Advertising8(2), pp.16-25.

Hennig‐Thurau, T., Gwinner, K.P., Walsh, G. and Gremler, D.D., 2004. Electronic word‐of‐mouth via consumer‐opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet? Journal of interactive marketing18(1), pp.38-52.

Knoblauch, M. 2014. Millennials trust User-Generated Content 50% more than other media. Mashable. [Online] 9 April. Available at: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/millennials-user-generated-media/#ice2O7daTgqL [Accessed 3 May 2016].

Patel, S. 2015. 3 Essential Tips for Marketing to Millennials. Entrepreneur. [Online] 18 May. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246199. [Accessed 3 May 2016].

Serazio, M. 2015, “Selling (Digital) Millennials: The Social Construction and Technological Bias of a Consumer Generation”, Television & New Media, vol. 16, no. 7, pp. 599-615.

Smith, A.N., Fischer, E. and Yongjian, C., 2012. How does brand-related user-generated content differ across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? Journal of Interactive Marketing26(2), pp.102-113.

Taken Smith, K. 2012, “Longitudinal study of digital marketing strategies targeting Millennials”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 86-92.


Matt Dawson • May 3, 2016

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar