Millennials have fragmented digital identities and refuse to be sold to, according to a new report that warned brands have a big job on their hands to keep up with this key demographic.

Consultancy firm Amaze followed a group of twenty 10-15 year-olds over a five-year period in a bid to track how digital technology – which it defined as both devices and internet-enabled services such as social media and online shopping – has influenced them.

A key finding is that the sample group have deliberately fragmented identities that are cultivated depending on the platform used and the result they want to elicit from sharing their content.

They develop strategies to get the most out of every platform while minimising the risk of negative feedback, the report found.

For example, they edit timelines and delete online histories to create better, up-to-date impression, effectively creating their own personal brands in an “extremely calculated” way, Amaze said.

Aware that social media friendships do not necessarily equate to real friendships, the sample group place an emphasis on finding positive experiences on closed, intimate networks of real friends.

The implications for brands are numerous, according to Amaze.

There is no one customer journey any more, it said, while “rawness” and “realness” will always trump slick production values.

Alex Comyn, Strategy Director at Amaze, described the sample group as “an intriguing mix of contradictions”.

He added: “They want validation but not intrusion; constant communication but real and intimate networks; platforms that inform, inspire and enable. And they want it all now.

“Even more importantly, they simply refuse to be ‘sold to’.

“They know what they want, and woe betide the brands that fail to deliver, because they also know how to customise and adapt the digital platforms around them to deliver what others don’t.

“The message for brands is clear: keep up or face the consequences.”

The sample group completed an annual questionnaire while nine took part in additional interviews.

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