Marketing to Gen Y

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Generation Y (Gen Y) is the cohort of people born between 1977 and 1995. This group is also known as the echo baby boomers because birth rates in developed countries increased after the decline that defined Generation X. Most members of Gen Y are children of baby boomers and their sheer size makes it collectively worth more than Generation X. Furthermore, as baby boomers approach retirement age, a progressively larger portion of Gen Y is entering the workforce. They thus, possess even larger disposable incomes. Moreover, members of Gen Y are well-informed and significantly influence buying patterns of their families. As such, many companies are developing marketing strategies around Gen Y, hoping to tap into the potential of this generation.

Characteristics of Generation Y and their likes and dislikes

It is generally thought that people of the same age group would have similar behaviors and traits. However, the different generations, be it Gen Y or X or the baby boomers, have their own distinct characteristics, needs and personalities. Hence it is crucial that the marketing strategies used are different for each generation.

Due to the unlimited information flowing through the Internet, Gen Y has developed into the most well-informed consumer market and unfortunately, the most unresponsive to advertising as well. Brought up in a media-saturated and brand-conscious environment they react differently to advertisements. Gen Y generally reject advertising that they deem to be untruthful or as they say, "in-your-face" advertising . Aggressive marketing tactics may backfire on companies as Gen Yers generally dislike the feeling of being targeted or even cornered with this strategy. Rather, they prefer to buy products that have reached them through word of mouth. This can be adopted by companies to subtly, yet effectively advertise their product. Mountain Dew, a brand of Pepsi, for example, is solely targeted at Gen Y and its advertising campaign was non-traditional and reinforced through word of mouth, among members of Gen Y. This resulted in Mountain Dew being the third most leading brand for Pepsi in Puerto Rico . Gen Yers prefer things to be fast and convenient, be it shopping online or researching about a product to be armed with the necessary information they require. They are generally regarded as tech-savvy . This leads to preferences for more technologically advanced products. Products with multiple functions are also favoured, such as mobile phones with camera, video, mp3 and Bluetooth functions.

There is a misconception among some marketers that Gen Y is brand conscious and loyal. It has been found that in most cases, Gen Yers do not feel a sense of brand loyalty and would switch brands at the spur of the moment . Moreover, these consumers prefer buying products from a wide variety of brands. It is thus, highly vital for marketers and companies alike, to stay afloat of current trends as Gen Yers would adopt those ahead in style. Gen Yers are trendy and are also known as trendsetters. The Internet again plays a highly vital role in determining trends, as it facilitates dissemination of information across the world effectively.

Gen Y is also heavily influenced by music and the artists they admire or wish to emulate . However, in this case Gen Yers differ from each other as various groups have differing tastes in music. Those that follow Marilyn Manson, for example, would be into gothic fashion as opposed to those who follow rapper Eminem. A well-placed consumer endorsement could thus, possibly increase sales revenue. It is therefore essential for companies and marketers alike to stay in tune with the ever changing trends of their targeted Gen Y segment. For example, this can be done by constantly following trends on channels such as MTV or researching online for more direct views.

Another distinct aspect of Gen Y is their preference to personalize their items. Gen Yers generally like to...
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