How to Engage with the Under-40 Consumer: An Onbe Study

New research reveals more than 70% of millennials and Gen Z have made a purchase based on influencer content

CHICAGO & PHILADELPHIA--()--Onbe, the preferred payments partner for the world’s leading brands, released a new national study identifying the factors that drive millennials and Gen Z consumers’ purchase decisions. The study, which surveyed nearly 1,000 Americans between 18 and 40 years old, found the most impactful way to build loyalty and awareness with the under-40 consumer is through engaging, branded digital experiences. Along their road to purchase, this demographic is heavily swayed by how brands connect with them across digital platforms—most prominently through influencer marketing and digital rewards and incentives.

“Every marketer recognizes the massive buying power of millennials and Gen Z shoppers, but many lack the actionable insight necessary to transform those potential customers into brand loyalists,” said Kevin Brown, Onbe Chief Marketing Officer. “To effectively attract and engage this demographic, savvy brands will craft a digital roadmap and holistic consumer experience—from enhancing payments and utilizing spend data to incorporating brand influencers into their marketing mix.”

Onbe’s study found that influencers can dramatically increase brand loyalty and transform purchasing behaviors:

  • Both millennials and Gen Z are heavily persuaded by social influencers, with more than 70% having made a purchase decision based on an influencer’s recommendation.
  • 50% of millennials and Gen Z have switched to a new brand based on an influencer’s recommendation.
  • 40% of millennials and 57% of Gen Z have made a purchase on Instagram based on an influencer’s recommendation.
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories are the most popular items purchased based on an influencer’s recommendation for 45% of millennials and 55% of Gen Z.

“Despite the rapid rise of social media influencers, brands are only just beginning to recognize the power of both the influencers and the generations they engage,” said Brown. “To build loyalty, brands must meet audiences where they are--and in most cases, that place is on social media. Influencers are able to step into that space and bridge the gap between brands and the people they’re trying to reach in a unique, highly personal way.”

Onbe’s study also found that millennial and Gen Z consumers bring an increasingly-high preference for digital rewards and incentives:

  • Both groups prefer to receive virtual cards over physical cards or those that can be used for only a single retailer.
  • 90% of both groups are likely to spend reward payments with the same brand that offered them the reward.
  • 80% of both groups say special promotions make them more loyal to a brand.

To learn more about how millennials and Gen Z are influenced and how brands can improve awareness and loyalty with branded digital payments, join our webinar on June 22.


Onbe, based in Chicago and Philadelphia, creates engaging payment experiences on behalf of modern brands for consumers, workforces and marketplaces, delivering value beyond currency. Backed by top-tier investors and with over 25 years of industry experience, Onbe's team of experts and purpose-built payment issuing platform seamlessly connect brands to their constituents around the world.


Christina Davies

Release Summary

Onbe released a national study identifying the factors that drive millennials and Gen Z purchase decisions.


Christina Davies