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Five Ways to Market to Gen-Y

by Tim Hare  |  
June 21, 2012

In this article, you'll learn...

  • The importance of appealing to Gen-Y customers
  • Why Gen-Y responds to engagement, loyalty, and respect

Many companies are stressed out about marketing to Generation-Y, those born between 1982 and 1993. I'm sure you've heard about how sizable the Gen-Y demographic is: 80 million consumers and $200 billion in spending power. The consumers of Gen-Y clearly have and will continue to have an impact on every market, from online retail to the automotive industry.

The pressing question you are probably asking yourself is, How in the world do we market to them? Marketing to Gen-Y is actually not as difficult as you might think. Gen-Y consumers, like any demographic, are creatures of habit. They will show loyalty to brands they've grown up with or have proudly discovered on their own. They like to share with their friends, and they like to feel that your ads are unique and targeted to them.

Gen-Y has shown a tendency to support heritage brands and engage with companies via social media. Gen-Y has also shown a tendency to shut out brands that bombard them with advertising or "market down" to them.

That is pretty similar to the behavior of other demographics as well. Anyone, regardless of age, would be turned off if constantly spammed with advertisements. When advertising to Gen-Y, or, again, just about any demographic nowadays, you can use any medium: television, radio, or a social media site, such as Facebook.

1. Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing still reigns supreme, even among Gen-Y. A recent study by Sitel (PDF) found that only 28.7% of Gen-Y makes purchasing decisions based on what friends "like" on their social networks. Some 44.3% percent of Gen-Y make decisions based on word-of-mouth. Gen-Y consumers inform their friends, peers, colleagues, and family members about brands they care about.

Understanding that you can market to Gen-Y the same way you've been marketing to Baby Boomers and Gen-X should put you at ease. Switch the demographic, tweak the message a bit, but keep the delivery the same. Doing so will set you up for success.

2. Engagement

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Tim Hare is a vice-president of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm based in Boston.

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  • by *biztag Thu Jun 21, 2012 via web

    Great Post Tim, all true. Market correction in affect for Gen 'Y' stay on point and engage your audience, loyalty is not Free! ... they will correct you if you stray; after all is that not the point of social media integration with business branding? *biztag - FastApp Mobile!

  • by Ellen Jantsch Thu Jun 21, 2012 via web

    Cool insights on word-of-mouth marketing. Since "likes" don't seem to hold much weight for Gen Y, what is a better way for brands to drive word-of-mouth from social networks?

    I agree that sharing is huge when it comes to Gen Y and that brands who can make that process interesting will catch some serious attention.

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