A Gen Yer Speaks Out on Marketing to Gen Y

Subcat Marketing chatted with Kristin Dziadul, founder of A New Generation a blog exploring Gen Y culture, marketing and social media. Kristin is a recent college graduate and member of Gen Y.

What should companies be doing today to reach younger consumers?
Companies must be using non-traditional media to reach younger consumers (i.e. mobile, social media, Internet, and viral techniques). Gen Y loves to share content, so if you give us something of value and interest that we can share, you can bet we will. We have tuned out of traditional media outlets including television, radio and magazines. We now have our smart phones, iPods, social networks and word-of-mouth to receive our daily news and information. Because of our drastic differences in media consumption (which is over eleven hours of media per day!), companies need to recognize that they must meet us at the media outlets where we are spending a majority of our time.

What are some common mistakes companies make when marketing to Gen Y?
I have noticed many companies talking down to us. They think that we do not know what is going on because we do not use the same types of media to obtain our information as the advertising executives use. This is a terrible assumption and you will quickly lose our respect by doing this. It is not that we are not informed, in fact, we are quite informed. We gather a majority of our information from friends, family, and the Internet. We have 24/7 access to all of these, so we actually are very informed, just in different ways. Companies need to stop creating dumbed-down advertisements targeted towards us and treat us as the educated consumers that we are and relate to us with our interests.

You had a recent blog post titled, “Why is Gen Y Obsessed with the Extraordinary?” How can companies use Gen Y’s obsession with the extraordinary to connect with this audience?
Make your ads and marketing stand out. We are a generation that wants to stand out and be different, so naturally we are attracted to companies or people that do the same. Companies must study the top trending topics for our age group and utilize those ideas in all marketing activities. For example, if we hear a popular song in your ad, we are more likely to tune in. Or, if you include a major event that we experienced in our lifetime, we will recognize it and be more in tune. If you make your brand stand out, we will notice. We are not an age group to settle with the status quo, we like to make an impact, and do business with companies that are doing the same.

What are some of your favorite youth brands? Why?
Apple because of the high quality, great integration with all their products, latest and greatest technology, and brand loyalty. Coach purses because of the fashion statement and high quality that the brand instills. American Eagle clothing because of the affordability and relaxed style they provide.

Any words of advice for companies not yet engaged in social media?
If your target market is Generation Y, you should strongly consider implementing a social media marketing strategy. Although our age group is not about content creation (i.e. blogging and consistent status updates), we do like to share information. If you reach us in the social networks we use (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace) and interact with us in a meaningful manner, we will be more likely to respond than by seeing your television commercial. To increase our response rate, tell us something cool and share-worthy. We gain a majority of our information from friends and family, so if you give us buzz-worthy information that we can pass on, that is great and free word-of-mouth marketing. In some ways, we may be easier to market to than other age groups. This is because all you have to do is meet us in the mediums that we are using, be friendly with us, and show that you care about what we want by providing us with great content. The days of carefully crafted advertising campaigns are over (at least towards us), and interaction on the Internet is in. If you are skeptical about social media implementation, bring in some Gen Y interns who can give their perspective and have insight into trending topics that we are interested in.

QUICK AND RANDOM THOUGHTS

Google Buzz?
I do not see the value in Google Buzz at all. I recently wrote a blog post titled “What Google Buzz Means for Non-Twitter Users.” I think for those of us that are already on Twitter and Facebook, Buzz is a waste of time. However, for those that are not on Twitter, it may be of value to them. It is quite easy to get onto it since it’s integrated with Gmail already, but it is not too user-friendly or secure yet.

Twitter?
I think Twitter is a great place to meet people in your area, with your same interests, and those who can give you great information in ways that Facebook and MySpace cannot. However, most Gen Y consumers are not on Twitter yet, quite simply because they do not know of its purpose. I use it for networking and learning opportunities as I am immersing myself into the social media and interactive marketing field, but others do not see the point in sending random updates to who knows who.

Apple iPad?
The iPad poses many great opportunities for colleges, businesses and individuals alike. The ability to access and organize endless amounts of information right from a book-sized device is incredible. For colleges, it could potentially replace the need for textbooks, saving a lot of money and paper. Businesses could allow employees to access all their work documents right from the iPad when they are on business trips, at a meeting or working from home. The only issue with the iPad is that it is between a iPhone and a computer, so consumers who already own both of those may not find a need for it right away. It will take awhile for the iPad to catch on, but it is a great idea and has several potential opportunities to become very useful in everyday life.

SMS Marketing?
SMS Marketing will become huge in the next year or so. Many of us have smart phones (i.e. iPhone and Blackberry) so we are able to access the Internet 24/7. If companies begin sending us highly targeted ads to our phones and we can easily click through to the web page and purchase right from our phone, that will be a great opportunity. Gen Y has much more disposable income than would be expected, and are very willing to spend it.

You can follow Kristin on Twitter, or read her blog, A New Generation.

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