By Joshua Murphy
Reaching GEN Y and keeping their attention is one of the greatest marketing mysteries of our generation. Young people today are very fickle and are constantly changing what they consider to be “cool” and “hip”. As a current summer camp counselor and college student, I have had the chance to experience this up, close and personal. It is quite amazing that the amount of knowledge our young people today have on current culture, products, and lifestyle. That is very important to remember when marketing to GEN Y — never take them for granted or assume they are not capable of understanding complex situations or products. GEN Y is one of the smartest, tech savvy and idealistic generations of our time. They know what they want, but they do not always know how to get there, and that is where market research, focus groups, BrainReactions brainstorms, and other tools come in handy. It is important to not just understand the wants, likes, and dislikes of GEN Y, but also who they are and where they want to be in the future. The youth of today love to discuss themselves and they want to the world to know they are here to stay. Our generation has grown up knowing mostly that as long as they dream big and work hard they can achieve and get anything they want. Now, that is a tough group to create for and sell to, but with the amount of money GEN Y controls, either their own or their parent’s, companies cannot make the mistake of not listening and understanding their concerns.
GEN Y is always searching for the next big tech item, clothes, shoes, etc. to jump unto and call their own. Youth of today love the idea of interchangeable products, such as multiple shoe designs, backpacks that do more than just hold books, and they are very primitive to the art of multi-tasking, more so than past generations. They are used to playing XBOX, doing their homework, chatting and texting w/friends, and planning their schedule for the next day better than the best of us. Due to the globalization of our culture and economy, companies cannot wait for their competition to create the next big thing — being on the cutting edge of product research and development is vital to the growth and expansion of products/services marketed towards GEN Y. There are truly no perfect ways to keep the attention of GEN Yers, but there are some techniques that can be utilized to increase outreach and interest of youth in a company’s products or services. Along with these eight techniques, I would also like to say the most important way to learn from and market to GEN Y is to simply listen to them. They want to be heard, but they do not always have an applicable outlet to have their voices, ideas, and concerns heard. Your company’s future can be bright when it comes to targeting GEN Y, but only if you show GEN Y that you are ready to open up and listen to them.
1. Utilizing Buzz Marketing/Word of Mouth Marketing: Young people are very open and vocal about a product or service they see as useful and innovative and will not hesitate a bit to tell their friends. Buzz marketing can be a commercial that a GEN Yer saw on TV/Youtube that was hilarious and it had some memorable slogan or quote, or it could be an interesting product name, or it could be totally something created in a GEN Yers mind from personal use of that product or service.
2. Creating fresh and innovative products or services: GEN Yers were born in a generation where new products/services are created everyday. Everything from iPods to clothing. GEN Yers expect unique creations that stretch their imaginations to new heights and offer the creativity of new technologies we are used to seeing and envisioning in our everyday lives. GEN Yers also expect simplicity of use and function, but at the same time something out of this world!
3. Make Our Lives Easier: GEN Yers expect products/services that make our hectic lives a little less fast and more relaxing and organized. GEN Yers are used to working, going to classes, and being super involved in school clubs & sports, all at the same time. In addition, anything created to make things more integrated is a plus. That could be a music player that has a scheduler/calendar or a cell phone that is also a picture taker and moviemaker. GEN Yers expect multi-function capabilities in almost any new product created aimed at our generation.
4. Attach Product/Service to a good cause: GEN Yers love companies that help good causes. Most young people volunteer according to recent studies and are more attracted to companies who have the same giving philosophy. When they know that by buying a pair of new shoes or clothing, part of the proceeds go to an important charity, they are more likely to purchase from that store and the opposite is true for companies who do not engage in charitable causes. GEN Yers care about helping those less fortunate and expect the same ideals from companies they spend their money on.
5. Style/Image Branding: Style and image are everything when it comes to product buying by GEN Yers. If a new product or service is not deemed cool or something they can tell their friends about the next day, then that product has lost a chance to make that very important first impact on a young person. GEN Yers can either be brand loyal or fickle, so companies must regularly ensure that the way they design and package new products fit in the realm of what GEN Yers expect. GEN Yers expect sharp, creative, and innovative styles and creations.
6. Advertise/Market Where GEN Yers Are: Most young people spend countless hours and days in front of their computer, at the mall, and in the movies. So placing ads before popular youth market films will reach the GEN Y audience very well. It is important that any ads speak the language of young people. Young people feel more comfortable seeing ads with actors that can relate to their age group. Unique and funny ads are essential for creating buzz for a new product or service and giving something young people can tell their friends about. In addition, advertising in popular youth magazines is a vital way to reach the GEN Y market. Furthermore, most GEN Yers have computers and access to the Internet, so advertising and collaborating with popular youth sites, like MTV.com, is an awesome way to reach the GEN Y market.
7. Street Teams/Peer-to-Peer Marketing: This is one of the best ways to reach GEN Yers. GEN Yers trust what their peers have to say, more than they do someone not their age. Street teams are an awesome way to rally youth around a new product or service and to get young people excited and engaged. It is important to ensure potential youth buyers trust the messenger. Young people are very smart and intelligent and can smell a fake ad or message a million miles away. Once a company loses that trust factor, it is very hard to regain that customer back. Street teams also are a good away to initiate buzz marketing.
8. Innovation/Incentives: Its important that a company marketing products/services to GEN Y consistently come out with new and innovative products on a regularly basis. GEN Yers expect continued new ideas and inventions on a regular basis, considering that we are used to such happenings from birth. GEN Yers also respond well to incentives, discounts, and free stuff. By utilizing a combination of those or all three, your company is sure to create a good initial buzz and interest in what you are trying to sell.