VIA Idea #22: How to Market to Gen Y (aka Millennials)

6 Apr

Gen Y GroupWhether you’re selling energy drinks, lumber or healthcare services, businesses can no longer just “push” their goods and services and expect results. This is especially true when targeting Gen Y.

Also referred to as Millennials, Eco Boomers and the Net Generation, this group defies pigeonholing in many other ways. Even their birth years aren’t agreed upon. Various sources list them as early as 1976 and as late as 2005. Most don’t remember phones with cords, typewriters or TVs without remotes. For them, a phone call is reserved for emergencies but they’ll send up to 3000 text messages a month.

They number nearly 100 million, are the largest generation in U.S. history and influence up to half of the buying decisions made. They’ve grown up with the Internet and its virtual world. Gaming and conversing with people they’ve never met who may live next door or halfway around the world is common. They’re comfortable shopping online but first do their homework regarding the quality of the product and the company.

Some factors to consider when marketing to this group: • They’re skeptical of what they see, read or hear (suspicious of mass media). • Hard sell doesn’t fly. For example, when communicating via Facebook, aim for 80 percent education/entertainment and 20 percent promotional. • They have a greater sense of immediacy—life moves faster and their expectations for services and relationships are higher. • They’re environmentally aware and committed to the planet. • They live in a multi-sensory world. For example, if they get lost while driving (unlikely since they’ve got GPS at their fingertips) they’ll pull over and look at a map with stereo still blasting. A boomer will turn down the radio first. • Peer influence is strong. Social media is where they learn about products and trends as well as catch up with friends and plan weekends. Speaking of social media, how much information your business shares and how often you share is critical. They’ll “like” your company on Facebook but if you post too often or push your products/services, they’ll “unlike” you or hide your feed. And timing is crucial: you’re viewed as overeager if you respond too quickly or frequently to a comment or post.

Even in personal relationships, Gen Y is aware of the time element. According to the recent Ad Age “Millennials, Decoded” study, half of the group who carry smartphones are “very concerned” that if they answer a text right away, they look like they have nothing better to do.

How can you connect with this group? iPhone • Gain their trust through more than one medium. • Invite them to experience your brand—offer information and include a link to your website.
• Give them the opportunity to interact—add a QR code to a direct mail piece. • Add an IM option on your website. • Create a buzz: share a video that can be uploaded to social media or forwarded via text.
Keep in mind that this group loves to communicate and will respond to the right message. Just don’t tell them what to think!

If you’d like more ideas or help with the plan, contact us.

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