Some Tips on Marketing to “Generation Y”

A new study from Saatchi & Saatchi concludes that for today’s marketers to be successful tomorrow, they had better understand “Generation Y,” those who have grown up in the digital age.

The study calls this generation the “Connexity Kids” and says marketers need to build brands with them rather than for them.

Generation Y encompasses those 78 million youths born between 1977 and today and represents the first generation to grow up online, Saatchi said. Among the study’s key findings:

  1. The defining value of this generation is “connexity”: the importance of staying connected in order to grow. Digital media have given youth unprecedented means to connect with each other and the world. As a result, for brands to succeed tomorrow, they must forge connections with consumers that go beyond simple product function. Look for cause-related tie-ins, lifestyle sponsorships and interactive promotions to become more important means so that brands can provide memorable experiences and build community, the study says.
  2. Knowledge is power. It is also cool. Digital media have made knowledge cool through a fusion of fun and learning. The result: these consumers of tomorrow recognize that success in an information society will require smarts. Marketers must acknowledge and challenge these smarts. Ideas which make exploring the unknown fun, bring information to life, or challenge consumers to design their own products will take on added urgency.
  3. Generation Y is a confident, self-reliant, optimistic and positive generation. The Internet, personal computers and CD-ROMs represent tools that have empowered this generation. As a result, these consumers are marketing savvy and much less brand loyal. Don’t build a brand for them; rather, build a brand with them.
  4. Digital media has produced a new language. This new generation of online users is verbally and visually more sophisticated. In fact, verbal and visual literacy have converged, creating a whole new language which tomorrow’s marketers must learn.

“It’s the death of the nerd,” Myra Stark, senior vice president at Saatchi, told the New York Times. “Knowledge is power for Generation Y, who know that people like Bill Gates rule the world.”

The study was conducted over a six-month period in 1998 and involved more than 500 hours of interviews and observational research. Close to 200 children between the ages of 6 and 20 were involved.

“Our mission is to generate extraordinary ideas that can help transform our clients’ businesses, brands and reputations,” said Jennifer Laing, chairman and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in North America. “This landmark study recognizes that knowledge, insight and imagination are the key drivers of our success. It gives us the tools to insure that we will have the strongest possible communications programs for our clients.”

Saatchi & Saatchi has 162 offices in 92 countries and annual worldwide billings of $7.3 billion.

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