Probing GenY'ers

The J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Teens and Early Careerist report says that online conversation analysis of two subsets of Millenials finds that they are concerned about the current economic environment, and are becoming particularly value-conscious and focused on finding employers that offer stability and long term growth opportunities.

These two important subsets of Generation Y (born during the 1980s and early 1990s): teens ages 14 to 18, and early careerists ages 22 to 29, display markedly different views, opinions and behaviors from the other, and have the potential to attain the greatest spending power of any previous generation.

The brands that generate the highest volumes of online discussion among early careerists, relative to other age groups, indicate the increasing popularity of value brands, which are competing with trendy brands for share of mind. For example, among retailers, value brand Old Navy closely follows trendy brands Anthropologie and Bath & Body Works in terms of positive discussion volumes among early careerists. Among quick-service restaurants, fast food chains Arby's and Subway receive particularly high volumes of positive discussion, along with premium ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery.

Among retailers and quick-service restaurants, the brands that receive the greatest volumes of online discussion among early careerists, relative to volumes among social media users in other age groups, are as follows.

Social Media Top Brand Discussion Activity Among Careerists



Quick-Service Restaurants





Bath & Body Works

Cold Stone Creamery


Old Navy



Victoria's Secret

Taco Bell



Panera Bread


Urban Outfitters

Dunkin' Donuts








American Apparel

White Castle


Best Buy

Burger King

Source: JD Power & Associates, October 2009

Overall, the brands that generate the greatest volumes of discussion among early careerists relative to other age groups are American Idol, Google, Twitter, Yahoo! and YouTube. 

Compared with social media users overall, early careerists are much more concerned about the state of the economy, influencing online conversations that indicate a strong degree of disillusionment among the group. And, the finds that although early careerists consider job-hopping a necessity for moving forward in a career, they strongly desire long-term stability and security within their chosen professions.

Chance Parker, vice president and general manager of the Web Intelligence Division at J.D. Power and Associates, calls this a "quarter-life crisis."  He says "... many are in the process of reevaluating their educational, career and lifestyle choices."

When it comes to purchasing environmentally friendly products, the two poles of Gen Y exhibit considerably different attitudes. While teens indicate that they will not pay more for green products, but they are considerably less likely to consider products that they do not perceive as green. Early careerists know they should care about the environment, but like most consumers in other demographic groups, will make environmentally friendly choices only if brands and companies make it convenient for them to do so.

The Participatory Marketing Network, almost concurrently, looked at the communications channels most influential on the GenY/Millenial group. This GenY behavior study, with the Pace University's Lubin School of Business' IDM Lab, looked at time spent and preference for visiting social networks, reading/writing email, texting, talking on the phone, watching TV, reading magazines and surfing the web (non social media sites). 

While Gen Y do indeed spend considerable time on social networks, when asked what they would least like to give up for one week, only nine percent said social networks while 26% said email and 26% said texting.

Michael Della Penna, PMN co-founder and Executive Chairman, says "... as long as email remains the collection point for social networking updates, including alerts around new followers, discussion updates and friend requests, it will remain a powerful force in marketing and our lives."

Activities least likely to be "given up for a week:"

  • Email (26%)
  • Text messaging (26%)
  • TV (15%)
  • Talking on phone (11%)
  • Visiting social networks (9%)
  • Reading magazines (7%)
  • Visiting non social network sites (6%)

Additional findings from the behavioral study include:

  • Average time spent on social networks per month is 33 hours, compared to 31 hours for email, dispite the disparate media coverage given to Facebook and other social networks
  • Texting remains an important communications tool for Gen Y with the average number of text messages per month exceeding 740
  • Gen Y spend more time emailing, texting and social networking online than talking on the phone, watching TV or reading magazines
  • Interest in mobile marketing remains low among Gen Y, with only one in five now receiving targeted promotional messages and only 4% planning to do so in the future

For more information about the careerist report, please visit JDPower here, and for more information about the Generation Y and Social Networks study, please go here..










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