Everything Advertisers Need to Know about Marketing to Gen Y

in Branding Digital Marketing Strategy & Trends | by Admin

It’s really quite simple: In order to be successful in the 21st century, a brand must offer meaning and purpose in consumers’ lives. A Gen Y has seen all the tricks, and knows the fancy words that advertisers use to sell products. They aren’t enthralled by the tricks, and quite frankly it irritates them. The days of advertisements relentlessly fighting for consumers’ attention are long gone. To a Gen Y, a well thought-out and brilliantly constructed ad is one that conveys impact and resonates important values. This generation must be targeted with an authentic approach. According to Umair Haque, Harvard Business Review, “The next global economy isn’t just about stuff, it’s about human lives.” 

Emphasize Social, Focus on Impact

Keep in mind that Gen Y has grown up with technology, so they are very comfortable with change. When marketing to generation Y, remember they adapt well and are constantly evolving alongside new technology that benefits their lives. Since they accept that their world is constantly changing, they tend to work well collaboratively and seek to make a difference. Because they are very tech savvy, they are always finding ways to work smarter, make life easier and keep in touch longer. They wish to see products that not only make a difference on a global scale, but make their lives more meaningful as well.

Virgin is a great example of a company that targets the young and hip generation Y. By way of social media, Virgin offers sales promotions, creates brand awareness and can be directly contacted by customers. By successfully cornering all spectrums of the market, Virgin has focused their marketing campaigns on innovation and disruptive marketing. Due to the diverse and independent nature of the business, disruption is the heart of Virgin Media’s marketing strategy. They aim to create impact, so it’s much less about quantity, than it is quality. Virgin’s disruptive approach is incredibly important in jarring people’s behaviors and cutting through the mass media to take on competitors.

Informed companies, such as Virgin, will learn to manipulate social media to follow cultural trends, as well as monitor their brand identity. This new wave of social will give brands the opportunity to see how consumers perceive them, and whether the brand message is received or lost in translation.

Because of this shift in marketing strategy, disruptive marketing will most likely be the way of the future. Industries should consider these “disruptions” as a way to best market their brands in the coming years, in order to capitalize on potential opportunities. Disruptive advertising allows for interaction and involvement, a key value held by this generation.

Be Up Front & Honest: Play Tricks & You’re Out

As for characteristics of Gen Y, they tend to be less loyal to a corporate culture, and more skeptical of what’s behind the curtain. They have a strong sense of entitlement, and are not shy when asking questions. After watching their parent’s work hard and struggle to balance work and play, they place great emphasis on maintaining a steady balance of both. They hold strong values for honesty, and appreciate brands that don’t try and trick them. There’s no need to be flashy to get their attention, just be sincere. As an example, brands like Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign speak loud to this generation. Therefore, simply calling a product or an experience a luxury doesn’t necessarily make it so. Gen Y has learned that regulation is important, and that the people who can influence the market need to be held to higher accountability.

Interaction is Key, But Not Without an Impactful Connection

Gen Y is much more accepting of differences in culture and ethnicity than past generations. They place strong emphasis on social interaction and because of this, they stay interconnected at all hours of the day. They embrace differences and accept change, rather than sidestepping clashing viewpoints. Since interaction in one of the fundamental values for Gen Y, there is a dire need for technology to be the link to communication. This being said, mobile is on an exponential increase, leaving the ways of traditional communication behind. Redbull is a company that has successfully targeted a niche market by way of interacting and creating disruption in the market. Redbull focuses primarily on entertainment by directing marketing efforts towards live streaming videos and promotional events. They rely heavily on digital marketing campaigns backed by niche targeting to empower consumers and build brand authenticity.

With technology always advancing, smartphones and tablets have started a new wave of interacting with brands. Social is here to stay, since it has become the direct link between businesses and consumers. Consumers today (especially Gen Y) expect to communicate directly, whether it’s with brands, celebrities or professional athletes. Because of this new trend, Redbull employs social media in order to interact and engage consumers.

Millennial drivers use mobile phones 2.5 times more than non-Millennials when car shopping, and auto brands are turning to digital, social media, and car-sharing to lure them in. Ford’s partnership with Zipcar on college campuses has helped the brand gain a 2% market share in this segment.” – eMarketer

Be The Change They Wish To See

A word of advice, don’t try too hard. This generation has seen it all before and doesn’t feel compelled to conform to social norms. Being raised by Boomers taught them to look for ways to change the world, and not to except it for face value. Gen Y is very ambitious. They have learned to question virtually everything, sometimes being referred to as “generation why.” This generation will drive a whole new way of doing business; one that brakes free from traditional boundaries and embraces new technologies, flexibility and adaptability.

This generation has seen both sides of the spectrum; advertising that tries too hard, hoping for shock value or the complete opposite, where it’s sadly “completely lame”. Businesses now face the biggest challenge of how to brand and market effectively to this new generation. When marketing to Gen Y, remember they want life made easier, they seek quicker responses, faster connections, and simpler processes. Therefore, brands that make life better are the ones thriving.

Think of one brand that has been around since 1886 and is still just as popular today as it was back then… if you’re thinking Coca-Cola, you’re right! Not only does Coca-Cola have brand loyalty from happy customers, they also stand for values sought worldwide – happiness. Coca-Cola is a brand that generation Y can appreciate, since it is committed to empowering people and making a better brand for tomorrow. Coca-Cola focuses its marketing campaigns around key words like, “sharing”, and “happiness” that unite people, by representing a brand image dedicated to improving quality of life.