The 6 Golden Rules when Marketing to Generation Y

Brands that want to be relevant to someone in Generation Y needs to take a long look in the mirror. Many brands have tried, many brands have failed. Some have failed to such a degree that if they were to ever show their face in a Generation Y setting they just might get laughed out of the building. That said, not all brands have to suffer and be deemed un-cool. All it takes a deeper understanding of what makes Gen-Y tick and a balance of cool topped off with an appreciation of their values.

To ensure that your brand doesn’t suffer from a horrible and humiliating experience when attempting to connect with Generation Y. I’ve put together a list of rules that you should follow if you don’t want to be “That Brand”.

Rule #1: Don’t Facebook for the sake of Facebooking

Ever since the movie, the social network, brands have become more and more obsessed with the idea of Facebook. Yes, we enjoy social networking and yes, Facebook just so happens to be the number one network in the world. That said, please don’t put a guy on Facebook in your commercial just to make your brand seem more relevant. It’s tired. Played out and unoriginal. Show us why we want to use YOUR product, not reiterate that Facebook is everywhere we look.

Facebook can be a great tool to connect with us as we spend more time on this site than any other on the web. If you’re looking to build a deeper relationship with us and turn us into fan-boy’s this is where you could start. That said, when you enter this space you need to understand how we use the channel. We use it to connect with our friends – Brands are not our primary reason for being there. If you post too often, you’ll be removed – If you share content that isn’t relevant, you’ll be removed.

Rule #2: We Party. Yes. We Party.

We’re not a generation that believes in working our whole lives just to grow old and have a few years on a beach in the Dominican. We recognize that we’re at a stage in our life where it’s crucial to live life to the fullest as our bodies will never be in the shape they are now again. Sure technology could change this but at the moment, the one that we live in, we’re embracing the idea of working hard and playing hard. If you want to be cool, make it easier for us to party or send us somewhere to do so. The beer companies have caught on, hence the increase in promotions giving us a chance to go somewhere cool and party with our friends.

If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of why we enjoy partying and why we don’t see it as a time waster just listen to our University Anthem: I love college. Sure, the type of partying may change but we most certainly see the ROI in Partying whether it’s professional or personal.

Rule #3: We like to think we’re individuals.

No one in this world is exactly like me. No one in this world is similar to me. A few people like a couple things I like but at the end of the day, I’m an original. Well, at least that’s what the majority of us think even if it’s not necessarily the truth. In fact, you can probably divvy up the majority of Generation Y into a few neat little baskets of psychographics and demographics. However, no matter how you look at it, in the perception of a Generation Y’er were are the celebrities in our own life. Call it ego. Call it entitlement. Whatever you call it just understand that we believe we’re important.

The world of Facebook and Twitter don’t make it any easier. The idea that now our entire lives are being placed in the public eye is new way to grow up. In many ways, our Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts represent who we are in the eyes of our circles. If you know anyone who sucks at Facebook, I’m sure your opinion will consciously or subconsciously be altered because of it.

Rule #4: Tell us a story that will give us the chills

We run high on emotion and tend to wear our emotions on our sleeves. If you can show us a story that is not only compelling but also remarkable; you will have us at hello. Your brand as a whole should tell us a story. A story that allows us to create a dream of what it’s like to use your product or service. A story that tells us why we want you and what kind of impact your brand can have on our lives.

Rule #5: Music is our Weakness

If you can’t speak to us in words, photos or text. Speak to us through music. Music touches our soul in a way that cannot be described through simple text. It’s powerful and the right song can quickly transform your brands essence from something mediocre to something that will speak to us in ways dialogue cannot imitate or replicate. If you’re looking for a bit more insight into the type of music that this group enjoys, check out the site It has a wide range of everything from Hip Hop and Jazz to Classical and Indie. If that tells you anything, it should tell you that when it comes to music it’s still different strokes for different folks.

Rule #6: Never Underestimate the Power of our Friends

When Burger King launched the Friend Sacrifice campaign they didn’t have a clue what they were getting into. When it comes to Facebook, we only defriend people who are (1) Spamming our stream (2) Are no longer friends or even acquaintances or (3) Ex-Girlfriends/Boyfriends. If you think that your brand can get in between us and our friends, we’ve got news for you. It doesn’t work like that. We’re more connected than the generations before us and believe that we can stay connected for the rest of our lives. Our friendships are like currency, you have a lot of nickels and only a few loonies. No matter how great your brand is, if you damage or lose my money – I just may end up going to another bank.

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