Generation Y is the most marketing savvy generation ever. Worldwide, this new consumer group is much larger than the previous X-generation and their impact on society will soon be larger than the largely documented influence of the Baby Boomers. I have wrote a blog about this subject a while ago, here is an update on how global brands can really come in contact with this generation.

Environmentally conscious
This generation is very environmentally conscious. Organic and green products are very popular with this age and they find locally produced products are also important. Responsible branding is also about PEOPLE. Create safe workplaces and offer fair wages. They like companies that have clear social goals and act on it without bragging. They do not like companies that actively reports on their programs for corporate social responsibility. They see this as ‘greenwashing’. This generation embraces brands in the same way as smart thinking. Consider how Apple brings all the innovations as leading examples of smart and efficient design.

Abroad studying or working
Young people have always been concerned with discovering the unknown, but now they have far more opportunities to do this. It is important to at least studying one semester abroad or have an international career to improve your language skills and understand cultural differences. Taking a sabbatical has become much more common than a few generations ago. Brands that have these opportunities, hit a chord with Generation Y.

Settling late
As indicated earlier, Generation Y wants the most out of life and really want to enjoy themselves before they get married or leave home. They live longer at home due to the economic crisis. Furthermore it has also led to more “boomerang children”: children who live with their parents again after a they have lived on their own for a while. According to research in 1980, 11% of 25 – to 34-year-olds still lived with their parents in the US. In 2008 this percentage had risen to 20%. For brands that focus on this generation, this means that they often also target the parents of this generation, because these parents have much influence on the purchasing behavior of their children.

Reality TV
Generation Y grew up with reality shows like Big Brother, Survivor, Osbournes or Idols. In the ‘Journal of Consumer Research’ Rose & Wood claim that the popularity of these TV shows can be seen as a quest for authenticity within the traditionally focused on fiction entertainment industry (Rose Wood, 2005).

Cycling in the city
Cycling in the city is hugely popular. From the hype of colored bikes (Scraper Bikes) in Los Angeles to the colorful cheap bikes with fixed gear (Fixies) in Jakarta, or even the more organized rent-a-bike in cities like Barcelona or Paris. It is the easiest way to get from A to B without congestion and without having to find a parking space. Nike has a number of brilliant campaigns (Run Unleashed) to make running more popular with this generation. The campaign was a huge success.

Adapt, collaborate and smart crowds
The Y-generation believes in the social economy. If they would start a company today, social networking would be part of it. They believe in these media because it is crucial to involve them personally and communicate directlywith them to build a lasting and meaningful relationship with them. It’s about returning the brand to the fans / consumers. The Y generation is convinced that both products and marketing campaigns should be devised together and they feel that the crowd is always stronger than the individual. Peers are the most reliable source of information. This explains why user reviews are very important to them and always will be consulted when making purchasing decisions.

True heroes are important to them
For young people the main features of ‘heroes’ are emotional connection (involvement and friendship), real humanity, and success. They are also skeptical of celebrities as role models. For them, their friends and parents are the true heroes. Their friends are heroes because they always rely on them and their parents are heroes because they were able to raise their children in harsh and difficult times. This shift means that brands must be careful when they start a campaign using a celebrity, and think about how they can use humanity and success in their communications.

Everything starts with an Experience
Generation Y is guided by emotions and are more emotional than previous generations. Especially the search for happiness is very important in their lives. (Van den Bergh, Behrer, 2011) Leisure activities such as entertainment, food and drink, and travel must have a strong emotional part so that they can escape the daily reality and relax. The tendency to ‘gamification’, fits perfectly in their lifes. Brands need to challenge their young audiences and present their products as performances or a moment of luxury to escape reality after a hard day’s work.