New research conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, finds that Twitter's recent surge in popularity is driven by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Between January 2009 and April 2009, the percent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who said Twitter is gaining in popularity increased by 27 and 28 percentage points respectively. During the same period, the percentage of Gen Ys who said Twitter is on the rise only increased by 16 percentage points. The hype is driven by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
So, what do the numbers mean if your goal is to lock in a Generation Y consumer? It means you should forget about chasing the latest hyped technology. Sure, technology is fun and it enables us to communicate the value of our products in new ways, but it's only a tool. Gen Ys are often inaccurately described as technology addicts, but this overlooks the fact that technology is appealing only as a means to achieve Gen Y's goals, not as a goal itself.
There are three guiding principles, backed by research, which you can use to appeal to this broad swath of 80 million consumers. These big picture principles will allow you to tap deeply into the Gen Y mindset no matter the tools you decide to use. Use them as a filter to identify ways to connect with Gen Ys.
1. Communication is a lifestyle - Gen Ys are heavily reliant upon their friends and their parents (even the grown up Gen Ys!). Any product or service that helps them connect with the people they love will succeed. The brand the best strengthens the emotional bond that Gen Ys have with others will benefit from a halo effect. When asked who they follow on Twitter, Gen Ys are most likely to say their friends (67%), followed by their family (30%).
2. Authenticity will get you further - Gen Ys grew up with cable networks built to sell them sugar cereals, bait-and-switch pop-up internet ads, and plagiarism scandals at major newspapers. This is a generation that can detect a sales pitch coming a mile away. Do not try to cover up the fact that you're selling something. Embrace it. Straightforwardly, describe the product, the benefits, and the price. Communicating with them does not mean that you have to talk or behave like them, rather openly acknowledge their uniqueness and their importance to your business.
3. Valuism - Gen Ys are hesitant to pay full price for anything. They are notoriously lacking in brand loyalty, revealing time and time again in qualitative research, that brand does not equal quality. For example, if a store brand detergent is available, they will buy it. Why not? It is the same to them. Gen Ys, coming of age during the most severe economic downturn in 60 years, have moved beyond aspirational and into value living - you need to provide both quality and value.
The Twitter hype helps tell the story well. If you want a Gen Y consumer, do not jump onto the latest technology with the idea that Gen Ys are there. It's broader than any given technology; it's deeper than any given trend. Capturing the attention of the Gen Y consumer is a big picture commitment with the big potential reward of connecting with 80 million consumers.