Baby Boomers have been the most attractive market as consumers for the last 20 years. Their over consumption and excessive disposable income has made them a marketer and business owners dream. Sadly though, the times of Baby Boomers being the kings and queens of marketing are simply coming to an end. There is a new generation in town who is spending more and slowly becoming the largest and most attractive consumer market in the world. This is the group of consumers born between 1978 and 1992 also known as Generation Y.
As a marketer and a Generation Y’er myself, I often wonder how much power this generation truly has. Generation Y makes up over 100 million people in North America. This group of consumers is the largest generation since the baby-boomers, undeniably defined by the numbers – the social and economic impact cannot be underestimated. The following are a few key insights to keep in mind when developing marketing strategies to tap into this market.
Narcissism Ain’t Easy
Generation Y isn’t the only name for this group of individuals. We’ve also been labelled Generation Me due to research showing that our generation is more narcissistic than prior generations. By definition, A narcissistic person generally has a high opinion of his or her competence and innate superiority to others, regardless of whether that opinion is validated by outsiders or any actual achievements. Narcissism has some correlation to self esteem, which should be no surprise, since Gen Y — the Boomer’s kids, born between about 1978 and 1992 — have been bathed in self-worth since they were infants.
While the importance of “personal branding” has always been important for people in their twenties and early thirties – Their lives have never been so largely on display. Today, Facebook makes it easy for friends and family members to stay up to date with each others lives and see how far they’ve come. Many years ago, the idea of catching up with someone after High School wouldn’t happen until the 10 year reunion. Now, people can keep track of their former classmates relationships, careers and overall character behind the screen of Macbook. This notion of openness has increased the pressure that this generation has to do well and as a result they have become more individualistic than any generation before.
Generation Y is Impatient
In a world where technology has always been at the ends of our finger tips we’ve quickly developed a need for speed. This is important for any marketer developing a social media campaign or even a business owner with a customer service program. If this generation contacts your business with a complaint or request – we expect a response with 24 hours max. Some will call it needy, others will call it a feeling of entitlement – We call it a demand for quality service. If you’re not willing to step up and meet the demand, don’t worry – your competitor will.
Generation Y Loves New & Shiny
Technology is our friend. In fact, technology is more like an older sibling who we adore. It’s something we embrace and get excited about as we see technology as a way to change the world for better. As much as we love the idea of innovation and new things however, we’re not big fans of people changing our current technology. Don’t get me wrong, we’re more than happy to learn about the changes and will learn how to use them quickly but happiness isn’t necessarily the emotion we’d associate with the change.
Feel Over-Educated and Under-Paid
The truth is, this generation is the most educated generation since the beginning of time. The reality of life however, is that a college education is no longer something only available for the elite and is becoming the norm. According to a recent study, 64% of women and 60% of men go to college after graduating high school and 85% of these individuals attend full-time. With this increase in enrollment however, many generation Y’ers are not linking this to the simple concept of supply and demand and are shocked that they cannot find a job after graduation.
The lack of job availability for this generation can be attributed to a variety of different factors but more and more generation Y’ers are pointing fingers at the Baby Boomers. This generation thought that the Baby Boomers would begin leaving their jobs earlier opening up doors of opportunities for them. This would in turn, give our generation a faster track to better jobs unlike Generation X who have been stuck behind the Boom for their entire lives.
Generation Y is Skeptical & Curious
While we understand the concept of paying your dues – we also understand that the economy is in the toilet. The combination of these two understandings have resulted in our generation doing things that give us a reputation of being disloyal to the organizations we work for. The reality is however, we just don’t trust that the system is going to be able to take care of us for the rest of our lives. Thus, we have taken a different approach than the generations before us where our loyalty is not based on the future but instead based on the present. Call it short-term thinking but in a world where instability is something we’ve grown up around – It’s clear that our outlook is going to be tainted.
This skepticism is also found when Generation Y is being met with promotions and advertisements. They are less likely to trust an ad then any other generation before them and more likely to take their friends word as gold. This piece of information demonstrates and shows why websites such as Foursquare and Yelp have become so successful and popular with this demographic. We’re looking for the truth and we don’t believe what your organization is going to tell us – What we do believe however, are those who experience your product or service and tell us what they think.