The report, "Why Y Women," is a two-tier study of 1,018 women ages 18-49 conducted by Radar Research for PopSugar Media, that examines Gen Y Women's sphere of influence on lifestyle trends, how technology and social media help them expand their sphere of influence and how marketers can target and communicate with this group.
Gen Y women are a major force in determining cultural trends and setting the pace for style. The survey found that 92% of Gen Y women consider themselves to be the trend leaders, while 67% of Gen X women identified Gen Y as trend leaders too. Gen X women cited reasons such as, "This age group tends to discover things first" and "They're more creative in terms of selection in fashion, pop culture and cuisine."
Gen Y women are also influential brand advocates. When they discover a brand they love, 61% said they "share it with as many friends as possible" and are likely to share it across a spectrum of platforms, including email, social networks, online reviews, blog comments, SMS/MMS, phone and face-to-face. In addition, the research found that Gen Y women are more brand loyal than many may assume.
With technology, Gen Y women have more choices available to them than previous generations, which is both empowering as well as confusing. To break through the clutter, they rely heavily on "authentic" recommendations of their peers for product referrals, brand suggestions and style cues.
While Gen Y women tend to be skeptical of obvious marketing messages, they do respond to brands and messages they perceive to be "authentic." One of the study's significant findings is how Gen Y women have redefined "authentic." While Gen X women tend to seek insight and brand approval from "experts," Gen Y women rely more heavily on their peers because they believe their advice about brands to be more unbiased and honest. They are also more likely to turn to online user reviews, with almost two in five women (38%) trusting the postings of online users to learn more about a product or brand.
How Gen Y women define their peer group is a significant change from previous generations. It not only includes their "real life" friends but also online friends, blog writers, anonymous reviewers, Twitter followers and other participants in online communities - many whom they may have never met. As a result, this generation has a wider network of connections that can valuable to a brand if leveraged thoughtfully.
Blogs and social media, rather than traditional media, have emerged as key trusted and inspirational sources for Gen Y to discover brands and products. Nearly twice as many Gen Y women than Gen X women said they rely on blogs to influence their decisions to buy a product (28% vs. 16%). Twice as many Gen Y women than Gen X women reported they discovered a new brand or product from a friend's status update on a social networking site (42% vs. 22%).
Consumption of new media reinforces Gen Y women's perception of themselves as more individualistic than earlier generations. They cite blogs as being more accessible, more likely to be honest, on the cutting edge and more likely to know about trends first. They often glean new ideas about websites and products from other readers' comments on blogs.
Gen Y women are media savvy and conscious of attempts to market to them. They are not easily swayed to action by advertising, either offline or online. They rarely click on ads, but they are highly aware of and influenced by brand messages online through search engines, blogs, social networking sites and even ads. When asked if they've ever discovered a new product via an online ad they saw but didn't click on, almost two in five (38%) reported they did.
The study's findings also demonstrate that context is vital when it comes to brand perception and advertising. Their trust in a site translates into trust in an advertisers' brand, particularly for brands they're less familiar with. This means marketers must be very selective about the sites they advertise on and avoid mass reach network buys they cannot control.
Gen Y women represent a challenge to marketers. They want to be addressed as individuals, are skeptical of marketing messages and inundated by media and advertising. However, once Gen Y women have a personal connection to a brand, they become passionate advocates and ambassadors.
To view the whitepaper, including the "Do's and Don'ts of Marketing to Gen Y women," visit www.sugarinc.com/WhyYWomen.