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Part 3 – Gen Y and Z, some similarities to Gen X, but some big differences
Born in the 1980s and early 1990s, Generation Y is graduating from college and entering the workforce right now. Because they’re buying homes and amassing a disposable income, they’re an attractive demographic. What makes Gen Y (a.k.a. Millennials) particularly unique is that they are the stuff that social media channels are made of. Sites such as YouTube and Snapchat are largely populated by Gen Y. In fact, this is the first generation that doesn’t rely on traditional media outlets as their primary source of information.
This isn’t to say that Generation Y doesn’t remember The Muppets. As adults, Generation X and Generation Y are friends, and there are, of course, some similarities between us. But there are also some big differences.
A generation tethered to their helicopter parents, Gen Y is experiencing a bit of a “delayed adulthood.” Between their parents doing so much for them and the tough job market and recession, it’s taken them a while to reach their full potential as a target market. However, this is a powerful group. The opinion of the ordinary consumer has the potential to go viral, and that can have big implications on any brand.
Gen Y is very aware of “brand image.” They choose the brands that reflect who they are and they view purchases as an extension of their self-image and personal identity. However, that being said, Gen Y is skeptical of marketers and their efforts to try to sell them something. To reach Gen Y, try…
Avoid cold calling. Gen Y views phone calls as an invasion of privacy.
Beware when using email. They’ll often not read past the subject line, so make it count. Their preferred method of communication is text messaging.
Creativity is key. They grew up seeing advertising at every turn. From billboards and sides of buildings to Web browsers and mobile devices, they’ve seen it all. You need to be very creative to get their attention.
Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth. Gen Y is most likely to buy based on the recommendation of a friend over an ad.
Engage in social media. In fact, staying relevant with social media is vital to reaching Gen Y.
Focus on innovative attributes and social causes—two things very important to Gen Y.
With at least two decades separating Generation X and Generation Z, we don’t have a whole lot in common. Born between the 1990s and the mid-2000s, Gen Z makes up more than a quarter of the US population. Currently in their late teens and early twenties, this generation grew up in a social media, mobile, and digitally connected world.
Gen Z is both tech-savvy and environmentally conscious. They likely get their information from multiple sources – from smart phones and social networking sites to satellite radio and even TV – so you’ll need to take a cross-platform marketing approach. However, getting their attention can be tricky. When marketing to Gen Z, remember…
Address them in their lingo, but do so genuinely. They’ll see right through it when brands that previously focused on Baby Boomers suddenly try to sound young and hip.
Be visual. Gen Z strongly prefers visuals to text and they lean toward incognito social media platforms.
Consider their parents. Generation Z has a strong influence on their parents’ buying decisions.
Don’t treat them like a target audience. You’ll get further by inviting them to collaborate and by treating them as a partner.
Remember as with anything in life, there are exceptions to the rule. In fact, the above tips aren’t even “rules” as much as they are food for thought. For example, I know many Facebook and Twitter users over age 60, and my mom continually has the most recent iPhone model before I do. Then there is my Gen Y sister who doesn’t use social media at all. The most important thing you can do is to identify all of the details of your target demographic, not just when they were born. They say Generation X hates labels. Maybe my point of view is flawed since I “am” a member of Gen X. But I don’t think anybody really likes labels. We all want to be recognized as the unique, important members of society that we are.
That concludes my three-part series on The ABCs of Reaching Generations X, Y, and Z. Hope you were able to extract some useful information from it. As always, your feedback is welcome.
DigiDay: Here comes Gen Z: What marketers need to know in 5 charts
Business News Daily: Marketing to Millennials: How to Capture Gen Y Consumers
TheMid.com: How ‘Reality Bites’ Accurately Predicted the Future of Generation X
CursiveContent.com: New Research: Gen Xers Perfect Target for Cause Content Marketing
The New York Times: Make Way for Generation Z
SocialMarketing.org: Generations X, Y, and Z and Others
International Business Times: Marketing To Generation Z: Millennials Move Aside As Brands Shift Focus To Under-18 Customers
Mashable.com: 3 things to know about marketing to Generation Z