6 Reasons to Target Generation Y

Small business and Gen Y

Generation Y, that slice of the population born from the late 1970s to the early 1990s (approximately) will form 75% of the workforce by 2025, according to a report by BPW.

As a small business, have you ever wondered if marketing campaigns are reaching them? They’re our future management class and, although a weak economy may be holding many back at the moment, they’ll be playing an ever more important part in purchasing decisions in future. In fact, according to Gen BuY they’ll have more purchasing power by 2017 than any generation before them (reported in Bazaar Voice).

Do boomers and generation X’s really know how to market to these prospective customers?

1. Gen Y are addicted to their technology


There are most likely more smartphones than human beings means that technology is very important these days and more so with those who have grown up with it. Technologies like the smartphone and iPad alongside social media apps mean that millions of connections are being made online every day. What’s key to getting Gen Y customers interested in your company is to get some of those connections for yourself

2. Gen Y like

Try to understand the kind of things that Gen Y are attracted to (and remember that these likes aren’t just for Gen Ys)!

  • Authenticity (look at the thinking behind Levis marketing stragies). Stick to your guns and your origins, small business.
  • Social responsibility (83% trust a company more if they’re socially/environmentally responsible). Give to your local community, help publicise charities.
  • Low cost (yes, I know, not always compatible with social responsibility) (eg, H&M). Provide products at different price points, offer discounts.
  • An experience (Red Bull does this well). Bookshops, hold coffee mornings. Coffee shops, attract book groups.
  • Fast if not an immediate service (Amazon is one of the most liked brands in this survey) Sort out your payment pages to make it as easy as possible to buy from you, and sort out your deliveries.

3. Gen Y trust strangers

well, strangers who appear to be experienced and educated, anyway.

In fact they trust them more than they do their own family and friends (just 51% / 49%) And they definitely trust the opinions of strangers over that of brands: 84% of Gen Y say reviews from the public influence their buying decisions to at least some degree. What this tells us is thatВ  user-generated reviews are now a must.

4. Gen Y use their phones to find out about a location before they go in


They’ll check Foursquare, Yelp, TopTable and the like before they go through the door. So it makes sense to be on at least one or two of the biggest mobile apps (and provide the great customer service that will mean you’ll have lots of good reviews.)

For advice on replying to negative reviews which even the best companies get, have a read of the Google guidelines

5. Gen Y don’t believe brands care about their opinions

and there are many sites they don’t trust. But there are some that they do in fact, 57% of young people surveyed by Cisco had certain websites that they trust.

So if you can show that you have integrity and authenticity, and, even better, if you show that you value Gen Y opinions by actively seeking them out, responding to them and acting on their suggestions from time to time, you may be successful in marketing to them.

To get to Gen Y, you need a presence on social media: Facebook at the very least (there are a billion people on there, so that’s where you need to be too). Hold competitions asking them for their input in return for a prize, hold polls or surveys.

6. Gen Y use social media to spread their dissatisfaction far and wide

Gen Y likes to make their likes and dislikes, complaints and compliments known online and they do a lot of this on social media and review sites. In a world where onlyВ 29% of Twitter complaints get answered, millions of opportunities to turn Gen Y into loyal customers are being lost. And ignoring bad press can end up like thisВ United Airlines PR fail.


photo credit: girl_onthe_les via cc

Try separating customer service accounts from marketing accounts on Twitter like ASOS do with @ASOS_HeretoHelp and @ASOS, and look at the conversations they’re having to see how well the company engages with customers.

Delve into the psychology behind social commerce proposed by Brian Solis to find out how to use social media effectively.


Some businesses need to appeal to as wide a market as possible, whereas others are more targeted to a particular age group. Treat Gen Y with respect, get to know where they live online, provide a good value product and you’re well on your way to making loyal customers of them.