“The consumers of Gen-Y clearly have and will continue to have an impact on every market, from online retail to the automotive industry. Gen-Y places more value on the experiences a brand can provide, and are less interested in the hard sell of a product,” – Robert Fallon
Generation-Y comprises the segment of the adult human population that was born in the 1980s and the 1990s. This segment of consumers comprises a significant, attractive market that potentially represents trillions of dollars of consumer spending power. Market studies indicate that this generation is resistant to traditional marketing methods but is highly tolerant of diversity in their cultural mores, shopping habits, social awareness, and in terms of their personality traits. In response, marketers are devising innovative, trendy marketing solutions in an attempt to cater to the tastes, requirements, and preferences of Gen-Y.
Brands and businesses can cater to Gen-Y consumers by adopting an experiential marketing approach. This strategy assumes importance because consumers from this segment value brand and product experiences as perceived by their senses. For instance, a travel and tours organiser can choose to market exotic holidays to Gen-Y tourists through new-age marketing spiels that appeal to the experience inherent in certain custom packaged tours. The said operator can choose to highlight the sensory aspect of certain holiday destinations with unique campaigns that hinge on the native food and culinary experiences. In addition, social customs and the societal norms of native peoples can be dovetailed into the tour package. Further, the atmospherics of the destination can also be pitched in the campaign to attract the attention of Gen-Y travellers.
Gen-Y consumers value convenience as an integral part of their lifestyles. This attribute can be leveraged by brands and businesses in an attempt to gain a wider mind share of such consumers. This is manifest in the fact that an overwhelming section of modern small retail businesses offer home deliveries of products and merchandise at no additional cost. The element of convenience is obvious in this strategy and helps enterprises to avail repeat business from sections of their clientele. In light of the above, we may state that marketers should work to build in an element of obvious convenience in their selling strategies in a bid to woo Gen-Y consumers. In a similar vein, e-commerce businesses offer home delivery of products as a matter of normal business routine. The rising incidence of such techniques is now common in many parts of the world and therefore, should be counted as a standard business strategy.
The Gen-Y generation is technology savvy and is driven by technological applications at work, leisure, family time, personal pursuits, and group behaviour. The ubiquity of the global Internet and the massive presence of connected devices has moulded many aspects of Gen-Y behaviour. Market observers note that members of this generation can be classified as ‘digital natives’ that view their existence and their surrounding world through the lens of (consumer) technology. Therefore, brands and businesses need to heavily rely on technological means to advertise their products and services. The common manifestations of such marketing strategies are Internet banner ads, video streaming ad campaigns, mobile marketing, text message-based marketing, online pop-up advertisements, electronic billboards, etc. We must note that these advertisements and marketing endeavours are predominantly driven by technology and aimed at Gen-Y consumers of media and media products.
Online social media platforms represent a large component of Gen-Y activities and pursuits. The two-way traffic provided by social media technologies enables consumers of this group to interact with their friends, peers, colleagues, and the commercial world. Therefore, businesses should work to drive a hard focus on social media-based marketing strategies in a bid to sell to Gen-Y consumers. Social media also affords an element of immediacy and consumers from the previously mentioned social group, prize this. In addition, social media-based marketing enables brands and businesses to cultivate a business image underpinned by transparency and honesty – attributes that are highly prized by Gen-Y consumers. Further, social media is engineered to broadcast individual opinions to massive online audiences; therefore, brands should be cautious about dealing with Gen-Y customers because negative feedback can create toxic fallout that can destroy a brand’s reputation and carefully cultivated market image.
The use of digital tools such as blogs, websites, online customer forums, social media handles, email, and electronic bulletin boards should figure prominently in marketing strategies that target Gen-Y customers. Relevant and interesting content can be created to attract the attention of these customers and sell products and services. We must note that this represents a marked departure from traditional advertising methods that hinged on various offline media, such as newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, and billboards. Therefore, marketers should design and deploy digital-first strategies designed to ensnare the short attention spans of Gen-Y consumers. The returns on investment on such advertising and marketing strategies may be constantly monitored in an effort to gain emphatic marketing impacts and outcomes.
Marketing campaigns that hinge on cultivating customer loyalty should be seriously considered by brands and businesses. The loyalty of Gen-Y consumers can be won through the regular dispersal of freebies and value added products. We must note that this approach typically works for all customer segments, but more so for Gen-Y consumers. For instance, online retail businesses can offer free shipping offers, traditional businesses can choose to add special discounts on certain products, and small businesses may win customer loyalty from Gen-Y consumers by offering preferential treatment. These strategies can help to gain deeper mind shares among Gen-Y consumers and enable businesses to win the repeat custom from such consumers.
Feedback should be an important plank of marketers that seek to target Gen-Y consumers. Marketing campaigns can be designed to seek feedback from consumers through customer surveys, online forms, live chat sessions, comments pages, etc. This approach signals business intent to listen to the voice of the Gen-Y consumer and this is highly appreciated by this customer segment. Interesting feedback should be acknowledged by businesses because such feedback provides a window to the customers’ mind. Businesses that operate social media handles can acknowledge feedback through that medium, while traditional businesses can hand out a ‘thank you’ card to acknowledge the receipt of feedback. That said, we may note that feedback is important for every business because it helps businesses to stay in tune with customer preferences and customer expectations in highly competitive markets.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the means to market products and services to Gen-Y consumers. Every advertising and marketing professional must acknowledge that this generation will continue to create significant impacts on brands and businesses well into the near future. The unique tastes and demands of this group should be catered to in an effort to lock in their customer dollars. Businesses must also realise that Gen-Y customers operate in a globalised world and therefore, remain acutely aware of business and brand offerings all over the globe. In light of the above, marketers should exercise caution when framing hard sell strategies because these customers may not succumb to such selling stories. In addition, brands and businesses should endeavour to offer incremental value in their products, merchandise, and business practices in order to win the loyalties of Gen-Y customers. These strategies should help the commercial world to connect and operate in tandem with modern customers.