Thursday, February 11, 2010

Retail Marketing to Gen Y


Retail Customer Experience: Why Generation Y Isn't Buying Your Products

By Christine Carter, owner of Epps Consulting

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Customer Experience, a daily news portal devoted to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.

As a 23-year-old consumer, I can tell you this: my attention is short, my demands are great and my purchases are diverse. I live in a day and age where social media apps, slogan tees and even Nike sneakers can be customized to fit my lifestyle.

Studies vary, but Generation Y is typically considered to be made up of people born between 1979 and 1997. There are 113 million in the U.S. shopping in malls and boutiques 54 times a year, and we have approximately $100 a week in disposable income burning a hole in our pockets.

We tend to live with only one parent, which makes us more open-minded than our predecessors. Conversely, traditional values and parental approval are very important. Our Baby Boomer parents taught us the importance of being socially conscious. Generation Y is also, of course, the most technologically savvy generation yet.

Because our generation responds and adapts rather quickly to social changes, we have emerged from the recession as "Recessionistas," informed shoppers who stick to tight budgets while still managing to stay trendy and cultured. In addition to buying necessities and spending as Recessionistas, we continually strive for goods that express our individuality. In just a decade, we've influenced the production of monogrammed screen tees, colored laptop computers and rhinestone cell phone accessories.

If you're able to keep these strategies in mind when marketing to Generation Y today, you'll secure a lifelong customer in the future as we evolve into mature adults and parents.

1. Appeal to our egos, our parents, AND THEN our senses. Your products and services should appeal to our individuality, but they should also be something we can share with our Baby Boomer parents. Again, brands such as the Gap and Nordstrom have successfully managed to offer products that both generations find appealing. Another reason these brands have been so successful is because their strategic choice of music, lighting, color palette, layout and visual merchandising appeals to Generation Y.

2. Minimize the television ads. We were glued to the tube as kids. We've learned to tune out traditional advertising methods. Convey your funny or emotional messages to Generation Y via guerilla, viral and social media marketing first, then supplement with traditional advertising. Another tip: We love word-of-mouth referrals and celebrity endorsements.

3. Offer a new take on promotions. If your store is at or near a location where we spend the majority of our time (shopping malls, concert arenas, theme parks or movie theatres), incorporate these locations into your promotions. Consider cross-promoting with these venues as well.

If James Cameron's box-office bonanza "Avatar" taught us anything, it's that studying is the first step toward profiteering. Like the Na'vi, for many retailers, Generation Y are aliens that leave them confused. The only thing that's predictable about us is our unpredictability. Our personalities and shopping patterns are so vastly different from what was previously exhibited by Generation X. Sorry, but we turned out to be nothing like our older siblings.

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