Gen Y: Grown Up and Still Commanding

Gen Y: Grown Up and Still Commanding

Jeny Dowlin, one of our Senior Client Consultants, has quite a bit of experience in marketing to Gen Y, so we asked her to share a few tips on what to keep in mind when marketing efficiency and sustainability to them:

Last week, I became an aunt for the first time when my 28-year-old, Gen-Y* sister-in-law gave birth to a baby girl. The generation that for so long has been seen as the coveted youth market is growing up… owning homes, having children and becoming a large part of the workforce. And because they comprise 26% of the U.S. population, they continue to be highly prized customers to have… especially as their wallets and families grow.

While Karen Barnes, Shelton’s Director of Insight, could comment for days on the sustainability and green decision-making of this population segment, I’d like to share some insights into how you can reach – and truly connect with — them.

Keep your Web site content fresh: Few of this generation know a world without the Internet and more than half pay their bills online. Within your site, “Bill pay” sections are the perfect areas to cross-sell the other services and products you offer. Keep the promotional copy brief, visually bold and update often to continue to attract their attention.

Seeking community not content: While older generations tend to utilize the Internet primarily for tasks, Gen Y seeks community first. They like to connect – and share their own viewpoints — through blogging, video-sharing, social networking (Facebook, MySpace) and twittering. Companies should work to have a two-way conversation online with these customers through customer service instant chat, content-sharing sections, etc. Not only will you gain higher praise for customer service, your research department garners new methods to solicit feedback and develop consumer advocates.

Speak green, but don’t greenwash: This generation as a whole has been passionate about saving the earth since childhood. From our own Eco Pulse studies, we know the majority of these consumers think companies have a responsibility to the environment. For the sake of transparency and improving brand reputation, it’s important to call out your sustainable programs and separate environmental initiatives from charitable giving/community programs in annual reports and investor relations. But be cautious with “corporate spin”… since childhood, this group has been targeted with marketing messages and are very savvy in discerning matter from manure.

Revamp employee communications: Not only is this audience out there but they’re inside your company as well. Much has been written about managing this technically-advanced, self-entitled, highly optimistic workforce. Take the time to review how information is created and communicated within your organization. This new personnel is about IM not email, videos not newsletters. When is the last time methods of communication were updated within your company? Even if they started yesterday, they want their voice heard. And representing one out of four American wallets, it’s pretty advantageous if we listen.

*Gen Y (also known as Generation Y and Millennials) are those consumers born between 1978-1990 and comprise 26% of the U.S. population.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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