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Breaking The Generation-Y Barrier

Nov 17, 2007
The Millennium Generation, the Internet Generation, the Echo Boomers. Generation-Y has many names, but the facts are consistent. Members of Gen Y were born between the years 1979 and 1994. They are a force of approximately 70 million and are the highest per capita spenders in the United States. One of Gen-Y's nicknames that particularly attract marketers is "Generation Y Not?"

Gen-Y consumers are much more willing to try something new than Baby Boomers and members of Generation-X. With open minds and strong buying power, businesses are hitting a "marketing jackpot" when successfully targeting campaign messages toward Gen-Y. So what's keeping every business from taking advantage of this strategy? Many obstacles including saturated advertising mediums and ever evolving trends stand in the way between businesses and this attractive market. What can businesses do to overcome these obstacles? Research is always the first answer, but after that, try promotional products!

"Technology makes it easy to avoid mass advertising," says Joyce Claterbos, marketing professor at the University of Kansas. "The people in Generation-Y have many choices of things to do, so to identify two to three prime ways to contact them can sometimes be difficult."

"Trend-watching" is one way marketers can find information to better understand the minds of Gen-Yers. One thing's for sure, Gen-Y loves technology. They obtain more product and service information from the Internet than anywhere else and prefer e-mail addresses over phone numbers. That should be a huge red flag for businesses to launch a Web site if they don't already have one, or advance current Web sites by creating a visual identity and marketing the Web address at every opportunity. This strategy will help fuel the opportunity for viral marketing, a phenomenon that stimulates and encourages people to pass along marketing messages through the Internet. A simple Web address that is easy to remember works best.

Gen-Yers also enjoy instant gratification. They have a short attention span. In other words, be where they are and deliver your message quickly, but efficiently. Support events that they attend such as concerts, sporting events or school functions. Better yet, pass out promotional products or conduct contest giveaways at these events to maximize brand exposure. Because they've grown up in an environment where media is so saturated by advertisements, Gen-Yers can easily become skeptical of ads or promotions that seem to leave out pertinent information. Stealth marketing won't work for this bunch. Instead, be prepared to deliver the facts, but be sure not to talk down to them. Gen-Yers like to feel they are more knowledgeable than the average consumer.

"Businesses must first become technically adept in order to understand how Generation-Y uses technology, and then learn how to reach that audience," says Claterbos. "Secondly, businesses should not judge and make assumptions about those people."

With a generation that is so into itself, some marketers might make the mistake of thinking every campaign should revolve around the consumer. Members of Gen-Y are actually quite aware of the concerns of society. Market research has shown that Gen-Y is responsive to cause marketing. So, if your business is considering going Green or thinking Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, make sure you let Gen-Y consumers know that you are taking this step in corporate social responsibility. Promotional products can act as the promotional vehicle that delivers your message and help break through the Gen-Y barrier.
About the Author
Thanh Do is a student in the William Allen White school of jounalism at the University of Kansas. She is also a member of Absorbent, Ink.'s marketing team. Absorbent, Ink: Promotional Products
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