Marketing to Gen Y: What you can’t afford not to know

This article written by Bea Fields, was sent to me by good friends, Janek Pearce and Daniel Kalnins of Breakthrough Apps, whose company specialises in creating great apps for businesses large and small who have embraced the ‘smart phone’ culture. Janek and Daniel reckon that Bea Fields’ article (and her book) is right ‘on the money.’ Given that they market to this generation also, I respect their opinion. So dive into this article and enjoy some of Bea’s insights. (I have listed her contact web site at the end of the article for those of you who want to know more.) It’s a few paras longer than my usual blog, but I think you’ll appreciate reading it to the end… Brian.

…”Generation Y. You’ve heard that they don’t watch TV, and you’ve probably been told that they don’t read that much, and you certainly can’t tell Gen Y what is cool. So how do you reach these 71 million “Millennials” that spend over 200 billion dollars annually and will soon replace the baby boomer generation as the largest percentage of the workforce? The answer is simple… you stop marketing to them.

First, let’s look at who they are. As a Baby Boomer, I can tell you that this generation are our own invention. We raised Gen Y to believe that they can do anything and be anything. We made their lives easy enough that they now believe they deserve to live first and work second. So the first thing we have to do is stop being annoyed at our own creation and embrace the brilliance of this Gen Y community.

This is the most optimistic generation to ever walk the face of the planet. They absolutely believe that miracles are possible. They refuse to work in a job that does not bring them a sense of joy. They care about the earth and servicing their community. In Gen Y, we have created the possibility for everything that we wanted for the world. So we must stop whining about them being entitled and embrace the power of this generation. Once we do that, we can then begin to take a closer look at who they are, what makes them tick, and what they want from our businesses.

How do companies that have been successful at marketing to Gen Y speak to this demographic? To answer that, first we have to understand the four areas Gen Y considers before purchasing a product or service.

  1. Cheap cost
  2. Good quality
  3. Fast service
  4. An “experience”

When Apple created the 99-cent download that took eight seconds to transact, they hit the nail on the head with Gen Y. Music is an experience, the quality is stellar, the cost is low, and the purchase happens instantly. What did Apple do right?  They spoke directly to Gen Y and asked the question, “What do you want?”

Marketing to Gen YLiving in an age where information is everywhere and where everyone can reach them, the Gen Y community is very selective about who they listen to. Just look at their social media accounts, and you’ll recognize that they get their information from one another, not from us, and certainly not from the media.  And the information they get from each other is not in emails, which most of them don’t even touch anymore. They text one another. They IM. They watch each other on YouTube. And sometimes they do all three at the same time. Most importantly, Gen Y does not care about what you have to say unless you have been endorsed by their friends. They care about what their community says, and they take each other and their network’s recommendations very seriously.

So taking that into account, how do you reach them? Understand that Gen Y is an “experience” culture. They do not want to be told what to like or what to do. They want to experience the world for themselves with their friends and then pass their own judgment.

There is one more major element to consider, and that is how to earn their respect when you are talking with Gen Y:- Authenticity. They don’t waste time on people or companies that are not being real with them.  This generation has seen it all, from televised wars to 9-11 to the hanging of Hussein. They know real when they see it, and it takes them all of three seconds to pass that judgment.

So what does all this mean? It means that you cannot directly market to them until you buy into them, until you value their perspective on life. So while other experts are out there giving you “tricks” to market to Gen Y, stop marketing to them and start listening to them. Hang out with them. Experience life with them. Respect them. If you do, their outlook on life will change you. When you do that, you’ll find your audience within this generation. Then talking “with” them, not “at” them will sell your business….”

This article was written by executive coach and Generation Y expert, Bea Fields. Fields is co-author of Millennial Leaders: Success Stories From Today’s Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders.

Until next time… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less. – Cheers Brian

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick? Revealing the hidden secrets about yourself that even you didn’t know.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here


  1. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

    • Hi, Unfortunately I don’t. I guess that what I have been writing has struck a chord with people and they are linking to it and it is registering on Yahoo News as a result. I am not the expert in things like SEO and internet reach. I leave that to others to set up for me. My area of expertise is what I write about — motivation; performance; profiling; coaching etc. Check out a few of my other blogs as there may be others that you enjoy reading or learning from. Cheers – Brian

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