April 21, 2017
As a demographer and a former marketer, I’d like to give you my perspectives on marketing in today’s generational landscape and, in particular, marketing to Generation Y.
Consider the design of this enormous Y Generation. They are a kinder, gentler generation that has been taught not to name-call, bully, or be mean. They generally do not see color or race as a defining characteristic, so bigotry and racial prejudice are much rarer than what was once exhibited by earlier generations. They have been taught to be competitive but not combative, to disagree but not disrespect, to achieve but not condescend, and that the end does not justify the means. They tend to be “green,” and seem to favor patronizing a businesses with a real “eco” or humanitarian story over one with a better product or lower price.
It is important to note that any company that is perceived by Generation Y to be disingenuous about “giving back” and tries to fake a green stand will be labeled a “green washer” and could face a crippling boycott. You should not and cannot lie to Generation Y. They speak cyber as a first language and live in a world of instant information as evidenced by their mastery of social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Myspace, and newly introduced ones that can hardly be pronounced. They have reinvented communication with their ability to text on their phones without looking at the keyboard.
Marketers are vexed by Gen Y’s rejection of traditional media like radio, television, and newspapers. This makes them difficult to reach and brand with advertising messages. The messages themselves are also in jeopardy and have not found favor with Generation Y because much of the advertising copy has the attendant hyperbole and exaggeration often associated with promoting products and services. Marketers are quickly finding out that the best strategy is veracity and pragmatism. The “sales pitch” is history and has been replaced by relevant communication or “The Truth Well Told.”
The truth, what a concept!
The caliber of products and services should definitely improve under Gen Y’s watch. A good product or service with a fair price and an honest green story will find an endorsement of their offering coursing through Generation Y at light speed. It’s called viral marketing, and it is a whole new ball game.
As we drill down to street-level selling to Gen Y, we need to be aware of some basic considerations, some dos and don’ts. Don’t expect to hold their attention with a boilerplate PowerPoint presentation. These young people are capable of multitasking four and five things at a time. It is not uncommon for them to be listening to music while they are on Instagram, talking to a friend on Skype, texting on their phone, and watching television. In their world a minute is a long time, and they will probably find your technology primitive and a turnoff. Remember, you need to be relevant and even tailored to this generation or they will look at you like you have two heads. Generation Y will understand the concept of responsibility and long-term planning. It goes along with being green.
Just a quick word about prospecting to Generation Y: It is going to be tough. Telemarketers are going to have a difficult time finding them because they don’t use conventional telephones. As we mentioned earlier, they don’t respond to radio, television, or newspapers. Has anyone found the silver bullet for reaching them online? No. So what is the answer? Relationships and referrals. So work hard, put in long hours, and do the right thing and this generation will beat a path to your door.
Adapted, with permission of the publisher, from Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead by Kenneth W. Gronbach with M.J.Moye. Copyright 2017, Kenneth W. Gronbach. Published by AMACOM.