According to Wikipedia, I am a member of Generation Y, otherwise known as the Millenial Generation. I’ve always been fairly fond of this categorization but in doing more research I found that my co gen-y-ers range in birth date from the mid 70s to the early 2000s. I was shocked. How could someone pushing 40 and someone who has yet to hit double digits share the same generational categorization? The Spice Girls sang ‘Generation X’ in the 90s, my 30 year old cousin doesn’t have a Facebook account and my 10 year old cousin blogs regularly. No matter what way the cookie crumbles – there’s just no way to categorize nearly a half century of people into one kitschy word.
In a recent Mashable article, author Nick Parish discussed three things brands must do to appeal to millenials online. Millenials want what they want, when they want it. Whether that’s the latest deal on Groupon, cell reception. a new song or reliable 3g, we are the instant gratification generation. In the article, Nick talks about how brands have to be on this because, simply put, if one store isn’t, there are 1000s+more that are ready and willing to snatch that business. The focus has clearly changed from the convenience and location (think the 24 hour 7-11 store) value of yesteryear, to getting what you want exactly when you want it.
Glen Parker, research director at Universal McCann, performed a study on over 350,000 consumers. They found that, “Most (brands) inherently aren’t social, but users are expecting to see them in the same places [the users] are in. For all customers, the one thing they all want is good service, but in all other aspects they are completely different.”
This boys and girls puts us in a bit of a pickle doesn’t it? What they’re saying is this: consumers supersede generational boundaries when it comes to brand presence being where they are, but since they is everyone, then they are everywhere. What that means for us dear brands, marketers, etc, is that we have to be everywhere.
What I recommend is this: really and truly analyze your target market. Where/who does your ROI come from? Are they Baby Boomers, Millenials or are they somewhere in between? Then find out where those people congregate. Is it online? If so, where? Facebook, blogs, forums, Twitter? Find them and reach out, or seek the assistance of a brand communications agency if you aren’t sure how. Ask your community what they want from you, engage with them and eventually, after this relationship builds and grows, they’ll be there waiting as loyal brand advocates. If your market is offline (ie: an older clientele), be wary that the young people of today will eventually be your market that both digital branding and social media will surely be part of your company’s future, whether you’re willing to accept it or not.
As for me and the rest of the marketers out there, a simple lesson lies at the root of this complicated message: complacency killed the cat. So refuse comfort, never settle and don’t give up on being creative, innovative and fresh in this ever evolving, wide world of web we’ve woven.