Generation Y or Millennials is the next generation to make the transition to adulthood. For the past 10 years a lot has been written about the attributes of my generation, touting the tech savvy group as having the potential to be one of the most civic minded age groups in history while also showing alarmingly high levels of narcissism and entitlement. As this group makes the leap, marketers should be paying attention to its newest customer base as their attributes both good and bad have the potential to lift brands up and bring others down. Here’s how…
The negative traits that have been pinned to Gen Y are the same traits that make us incredibly loyal customers and ideal targets for targeted marketing. Millennials are looking for brands that will treat us as the individuals we believe we are. As the poster children for preference marketing, we demand the one to one communications and brand relationships, rewarding companies that do it well. Historically brands have used transactional data and analytics to “tell” consumers what they are interested in. For the generation labeled as narcissistic and entitled, what marketer thinks that is a good idea? Now more than ever it is important to truly understand when, how, and what a consumer wants to receive. Millennials are no exception; in fact, the proof of concept. We grew up during the proliferation of direct marketing and for that reason have the most exposure to spam and know how to avoid it. We are the generation that grew up knowing the only thing to expect in a mailbox was junk, phone numbers belong on a do not call list, and a spam box is always larger than an inbox. Marketing atrophy quickly sets in and unless we are looking for or expecting a message, it will not be seen. So what is a brand to do? Just Ask! For a generation that has a very low barrier to socially expressing ourselves (sometimes too low), we are very open to telling brands exactly what we want, how we want it and how often. After all, it is that kind of behavior that has given us the reputation that we have. Enter preference marketing and the next era of brand relationships. Tracking and analytics can only get a marketing department so far, and the only way to ensure that you are sending a message that is relevant to a consumer is to ask them.
This type of marketing is an excellent way for companies to communicate in a timely and relevant manner, especially in channels that they never before considered. Gen Y will be the proving ground for companies as we push the envelope on the boundary between social and commercial. The only way for companies to engage their customers and prospects in these new more personal channels is to ask permission first.
We are the most connected generation yet, and are willing to interact with companies through channels and mediums never used before. Millennials created social networks, a medium and platform for us to voice and display our individuality to the masses. This includes the successes and failures of brands. Social media, which will have a big effect on brands over marketing moving forward, is by far the most sensitive medium for companies to target their consumers. The idea of marketing in social channels can be daunting to most marketers but what better place to ask a consumer what they like than the very place they go tell the world what they like. Expression of self is what makes every one of the social networks work, and companies are missing out if they do not listen.
Neil Tolbert, Senior Business Development: Preference Management, PossibleNOW.
Labels: Generation Y, Millennials, Preference marketing, social networks, spam, transactional data