Getting to Know Your M-IQ: A Look at Brand Behaviors That Drive Connection

By Jillian Flores, Director of Brand Planning, Moosylvania

Over the last year shopping, consumption, and engagement patterns have drastically changed when it comes to how people interact with brands. But, one thing remains to be constant, participation with people, where they are, is key for brand connection.

Every year, since 2013, Moosylvania has conducted the Top 100 Millennial brand survey to identify how and why millennials adopt brands, as well as identify the Top 100 favorite brands. The study informs how consumers interact and engage with their favorite brands, and what brand behaviors drive affinity and belonging.

Each year 1,000 randomly recruited consumers are asked to name their three favorite brands unaided and then asked a series of multi-choice, single-choice and write-in questions to uncover and help create insights into how and why these brands make the top of the list. The study is a paid panel study in partnership with Great Questions, LLC., and conducted as a mobile, online survey.

Moosylvania’s studies show that word-of-mouth is 2.5x more likely to lead to brand adoption than any other type of advertising. But, still, for brands to gain that share of mind, we continuously study how to drive the conversation. We take a look at what are the types of categories that are top of mind and examine what the leading brands are doing to create connections with and among people.

In 2021 we evaluated what brand behaviors millennials consider to be expected vs. special treatment, essentially diving into what are the must-do’s vs. nice-do-dos – and found the mandatories are specific and on the rise.

We found that across categories Millennials:

  1. Expect friendship
  2. Appreciate recognition
  3. Hope for ambassadorship

Expect Friendship

63% of millennials expect brands to personalize emails with their name and 53.8% expect a response to comments on the brand’s social media page (just last year this was considered special treatment, now it’s a must-do).

Increasingly, we are seeing millennials respond to and interact with brands as people, meaning brands need to be able to distinguish among their fans and personalize all interactions. Even with this notion being so important, only a quarter of millennials agree that their favorite brand is in fact responding to their comments. This proves a huge opportunity among favorite brands and brands competing for a share of mind and share of wallet. The first step should be to make a consistent effort in creating connections.

Appreciate Recognition

While personalizing and responding is mandatory, shoutouts such as birthday wishes are a simple way to make millennials feel recognized and special. Almost 60% of millennials say that wishing them a happy birthday is a special treatment. We’ve found an additional way to bring to life this type of recognition & ‘special treatment’ of fans is by showcasing fans’ accomplishments and appreciating their input and creating a space for collaboration among fans and with the brand to take place.

Hope for Ambassadorship

The ultimate brand adoption is when people want to talk about your brand and share your story. The millennial survey showcases that 54% of 21-41 year-olds believe that offering a brand ambassador program is considered special treatment. It’s a benefit to the brand, and a desire of the consumer to have a space to promote your products through their fandom.

We’ve seen success across categories when exploring the realm of brand ambassadorship opportunities available – from rewarding fans with swag or making it available for purchase to brands that provide programs that are essentially earning them job experience. Each initiative from the small ways of assisting fans in sharing their voice and their passion to the invaluable time and effort consumers put in, fosters participation.

Ultimately, marketers should think about how they can be a friend, listen well and let fans lead.

We’ve developed a quiz for marketers, available on, to identify and test marketers’ ‘M’ Score to see how in tune with Millennials’ expectations they currently are and provide some thought starters on a better connection.

Let us know your score and if you’d like to learn more about Moosylvania’s Millennial Study and key learnings we’d love to make a connection.

Contact:, Chief Strategy Officer.