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Five Steps to Improve Your Marketing to Generation-Y

by Joeri Van den Bergh  |  
April 24, 2013

Our world is changing rapidly. Technology is developing faster than ever. Information is shared and made available everywhere.

Generation-Y is the first generation that grew up with the Internet, and these Millennials are used to having everything at their fingertips. They are pragmatic, connected, bold, and eclectic. Marketing, therefore, will never be the same again. Merely pushing advertising doesn't work anymore. One-way communication simply doesn't do the trick.

Based on interviews with 21 global marketing executives from various industries (including from Converse, Heineken, Abercrombie & Fitch, BBC, Microsoft, and Reckitt & Benckiser), we defined a five-step plan for marketers to improve their marketing toward demanding Gen-Y customers.

Step 1: Make it relevant

Everything Starts With the Product

If your product isn't doing what it promises, you may as well close the books. Youngsters can find information anywhere, and they are asking feedback from peers all the time. For them, it is all about price/quality: Are you offering something valuable? Are you merely selling products… or facilitating and endorsing Gen-Y's life?

Don't Forget About the Company

Being true to who you are is key. It's about wearing the company value glasses in everything you do. Storytelling, authenticity, and uniqueness add more than you would expect: They reflect Gen-Y's core values and sustain your corporate identity.

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Joeri Van den Bergh is a Gen Y expert and co-founder of InSites Consulting, a global new-generation research agency with offices in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He is the author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generation Y.

Twitter: @Joeri_InSites
LinkedIn: Joeri Van den Bergh

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  • by Michael Wed Apr 24, 2013 via web

    Nice overview, but on a few points I kept thinking "examples please!" For example, the line about how marketers should endorse INCLUSIVE brands with EXCLUSIVE experiences..." Well, I've been a marketer for many years and I don't know what an inclusive brand or an exclusive experience is. Perhaps I know those by other names?

  • by Randy Milanovic Wed Apr 24, 2013 via web

    Hello Joeri. True, things are changing, and I see it as a good thing. New ideas and techniques mean more opportunitiesare created every day. But, it also means that paradigms are constantly shifting, and strategies that worked in the past can become irrelevant almost overnight. But ...not everyone is adapting. Case in point: online agencies using traditional ad agencies models – that same pre-set, unimaginative approach fashioned in the 60s that simply doesn’t work today. Smart firms, like Kayak Online Marketing are taking a new approach - one of collaboration, empowerment and attraction. If you are curious to discuss this more, please reach out to me on social or visit our website at

  • by Randy Milanovic Wed Apr 24, 2013 via web

    hi Michael. I interpret Joeri's wording to mean brand extensions and loyalty programs. But I may be wrong. Agreed, always smart to drop the jargon.

  • by Mike Camplin Wed Apr 24, 2013 via web

    I just shared the article on LinkedIn and encouraged my connections to read the slideshare presentation as well. Like the previous comments, I'm hoping you'll provide an example or two for inclusive brand and exclusive experience-- perhaps from your interview group of companies. Also, I wonder how many areas you think are unique to Generation-Y. Most of the ideas seem appropriate for Boomers-- especially given their penchant for retaining their youth and relevance.

  • by Beth Worthy Thu Apr 25, 2013 via web

    Good effort in collecting these information. I think this topic needed to be shared among the people though they should be get aware of these facts.
    Nice and useful information.

  • by Anthony Thu Apr 25, 2013 via web

    I find it interesting that this article is written for the challenges marketers have with Generation Y individuals and how to reach them. I am a member of Generation Y myself and also a marketer. The issue lies with not having Generation Y individuals at the table or truly listening to them and figuring out their wants and needs rather than feeding it to us. We are underrepresented in marketing agencies who ultimately want to reach that same demographic. Start hiring millennials and Generation Y individuals in some serious marketing positions and these problems would go away.

  • by Tim Thu Apr 25, 2013 via web

    Mobile integration strategy is key. Knowing what your customer does when they read your content, and what time of day they are reading, is how you connect with them. Connection is important, otherwise you fall into a social media abyss that is full of one way streets.
    The Slideshare presentation is very valuable for old school companies looking to make a splash in a younger market. In a post we wrote a while back we talked about demographics and how you need to askew your marketing to the specific "audience" - When you combine your company value and message you will not compromise your integrity no matter what audience you are trying to appeal to.

  • by Mary Christmas Mon May 27, 2013 via web

    D. W. You are the best.

  • by Mohammad Ali Akbari Thu Jun 20, 2013 via web

    I'd like your first tip "Everything Starts With the Product"

  • by Carl Fri Feb 14, 2014 via web

    I Totally agree with Anthony's comment about Gen Y's being in the workplace . I am a Gen Y and i am currently doing a placement at a marketing agency and they are always thinking of ways they can include our generation and listen to them :) . I think Anthony you would be really intrested in the blog i have written on what marketers need to do to market to Gen Y . The blog is an honest opinion about how a gen Y feels about the marketing world right now.

  • by Ifunanya Tue Jan 16, 2018 via mobile

    I appreciate.
    Thanks alot nd God bless u.....

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