Generation Y Part I: What you definitely need to know about Generation Y

Born between late 1980’s till the early 2000’s, Generation Y currently comprise one of the most sizable consumer segment, while it is estimated that within the next decade they will outnumber all other consumer groups combined.

The significance of Generation Y however, goes beyond their numerical size, to structural difference in attitude and behavior which tend to affect all of us, challenging basic marketing principles.

The two key pillars that make Generation Y so much more different than their predecessors are that:

  1. They are the first “digital natives” – people born and raised in the peak of the technological boom, who cannot imagine life without an ongoing stream of information and a continuous connection on the web
  2. They are the first “downwardly mobile” generation – people who had it all and lost it all

The result, is the emergence of a highly educated generation, empowered and market savvy, but full of emotional and behavioral contradictions.

Generation Y are impatient and eager, demanding instantaneous gratification for any effort. They don’t believe in building for the future and they don’t want to wait. They want what they want. . .and they want it now.

They are natural multitaskers, living simultaneously in a multi-screen environment. This renders them little to no attention span, since according to Medina, author of “Brain Rules” we are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.

Needless to say, this generation has moved all its media consumption online, where they process information on a more intuitive level, responding better to short, sharp messages.

Generation Y sees the world in pixels. They are far better at digesting and expressing themselves through visual context. Pictures for Generation Y have deeper meaning and are more reflective of emotions than text will ever be.

Experiences and opportunity for adventures are big with Generation Y, and rank much higher in their preference than the acquisition of goods.

For this generation it’s more about the journey and less the destination.

Generation Y does not want to be sold to, they catch on to and immediately dismiss advertising gimmicks. What they do appreciate is true, authentic brands who build consistent brand stories.

Vs. their elder counterparts, Generation Y are less brand conscious. They take a more distant stance to brands, and relate to them in a more pragmatic manner. Furthermore, the meaning of brand for this generation has shifted from symbolic cues to more intangible values like free time, unique media content and support of philanthropic causes.

They are great ambassadors, they personally take on the responsibility of recommending, praising, punishing and warning against . . . products, brands, services. Whether good or bad, you can rest assured that this generation will spread the word in an extrapolated voice.

“Word of mouth . . .or mouse” is big with Generation Y, since they embrace brands that are recommended by and popular amongst others like themselves.