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Young Voters Showing Their Brand Independence 

October 13, 2016

Marketers learning to appeal to a younger audience have realized that millennials and Generation Z do not have the same brand loyalty as their moms and dads. In other words, they don’t care if their new kicks are Nikes or if anyone else likes their new favorite song.

With advanced technology quite literally at their fingertips, they relish the freedom to find what they like on their own without having to rely on the products most familiar to them.

As we find ourselves a few short weeks from a presidential election, it is worth noting that this willingness to embrace the unfamiliar extends to politics.

Even in a year when both major parties’ presidential nominees suffer from unprecedented unfavorable ratings among the public, middle-aged and elderly voters continue to pick between the Democrats and Republicans – even if they don’t particularly like their choices.

Younger voters, however, do not necessarily play by the two-party-system rules.

Recent presidential tracking polls show that the Libertarian and Green Party candidates – neither of whom have attracted significant media coverage – each attract less than 10 percent of the vote. But when you carve out voters in the millennial and Generation Z demographics, you see a very different story.

According to the Economist/YouGov poll released October 3, 13 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 choose Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson with 5 percent going to Green nominee Jill Stein. According to CBS News’ October 2 poll, Johnson is at 21 percent among voters under 30, and Stein is at 5 percent. The September 29 Fox poll has 19 percent of voters younger than 35 supporting Johnson and 9 percent are for Stein.

To put that in perspective, a combined 28 percent would be the largest slice of the vote outside of the Democratic and Republican parties since 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt ran as an independent.

So, just like businesses, if Democrats and Republicans want to be relevant two or three decades from now, they had better figure out how to appeal to young people.