Create A Movement

This generation is creative, social and connected. They are changing the way we interact with brands and content by creating an environment for marketers that is much more interactive and connected.

To successfully engage this group, you can't advertise to them; you have to invite them to participate in something bigger than advertising. Marketers need to give young people ready access to the content they create and enable them to participate with it, create their own and share it. They need to inspire and engage youth and then reward them for participating. For youth, public recognition has become the modern-day merit badge. If done right, your marketing efforts will gain momentum and feel more like a movement than a campaign.

One example of creating this type of engagement is the recent effort by the International Olympic Committee. It has allowed teens to adopt and participate with the Olympic values by creating a digital campaign called "The Best of Us Challenge." Aimed at young people, the global effort is a digital social experience that invites people around the world to challenge top Olympic athletes and their peers, using sport and non-sport talents via an online competition of consumer-generated videos.



Not only is it fun to see global youth engaging with Olympic athletes, engaging experiences like this provide Gen Y with a sense of co?ownership, so they feel they have a role and a voice in the movement and spirit of the Olympic Games.

Here are five tips on creating a movement that Gen Y will embrace:

1. Individualism: Enable Gen Y to be creative. They like to personalize experiences and they want the ability to self-aggregate your content. If they like it, they'll want to embed it on their Facebook pages. (The New York Times allows you to embed but CNN only lets you email a link).

2. In the now: This generation is always on and leads the buzz revolution. Marketers need to draw them into an experience quickly and demonstrate the immediate value. Gen Y is more than twice as likely as pre-Boomers to try the newest/latest version of products so you also have to continually refresh and update content. ( is much better than at refreshing content.)

3. Social interactivity: Facilitate Gen Y's desire for recognition and connection with others. They index high on "I like to show off my taste and style," so give them the ability to gain the recognition of being the first one to share new things. A good example is the Victoria's Secret Pink event during which pics that were posted immediately appeared on stage behind the performers.

4. Authenticity: Communicate on their level. Gen Y is skeptical of authority and process five times faster than most of us, so speak their language in terms of simplicity, abbreviations, fragments and images. Keep directions simple and use images to click on rather than text or drop downs. U.O. (Urban Outfitters) and are great at this.

5. Make it fun: Gen Y is experience-oriented; they feel it all. They enjoy absurdity and odd humor, which is why they are hyper-active on YouTube.

7 comments about "Create A Movement ".
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  1. Tommy Toy from PBT Consulting, February 5, 2010 at 11:55 a.m.

    Gen-Y’s are interested in pop culture, being part of the latest fad, things or activities that are trendy, hip and cool, experiencing new tastes, listening to the latest music, wearing the trendiest clothes, playing the latest online games, interacting and communicating with their friends, expressing their opinions and showing off. Their friends are very important and part of their social DNA. They ignore traditional advertising and rely more on word-of-mouth. Gen-Y’s are the “we want it now” generation and interested in immediate gratification. Gen-Y’s work hard until they get bored. Gen-Y’s are less brand loyal and always looking for a good value. These qualities require a marketing approach that is both SENSORY and SOCIAL.


    The sensory marketing approach involves the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

    Marketers must be aware of the importance of the five senses in reaching Gen-Y’s. Gen-Y’s must be sold on the great taste, texture, aroma, look and quality of a food product (taste, smell, sight and touch). By the same token, Gen-Y’s would be attracted to a new electronic music gadget by its overall design, sound quality and features (sight, touch and hearing). The Internet with its compelling digital imagery, video and sound is a natural media channel for Gen-Y’s as it offers elements of all five senses. Gen-Y’s are among the heaviest users of the Internet for news, information, entertainment and interacting with others.


    The social marketing approach involves satisfying a Gen-Y’s need for social interaction and being part of social groups or communities.

    Gen-Y’s are social animals so marketers must incorporate social elements into the design of a business whether it is a website, retail or eating establishment. Businesses are no longer solely for shopping, eating or drinking, but places to meet friends, hangout, read a book, surf the Net, socialize and exchange gossip. Facebook, MySpace and YouTube are excellent examples of social networking sites that appeal to a Gen-Y’s need to network and interact with others. Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, Borders, Steve Madden, American Eagle and Best Buy are excellent examples of retail establishments that incorporate social design elements like cool and trendy store interiors, the latest in fashion and electronic gadget’s, piped in music, visual displays, and in-store food and beverage facilities.

    Tommy Toy
    PBT Consulting

  2. Mary Sandone from Fox Hollow Farm, February 5, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.

    You hit the nail on the head - This generation is creative, social and connected. I've just discovered a new tool to help do just that - be creative, social and share with others - it's the web your way- thankfully without the techy stuff. share it. keep it. pass it on. redo it. broadcast it. shout it out.

    I even made my own web page using the software - others can too.

  3. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., February 5, 2010 at 4:31 p.m.


    I gotta push back on the presumptions you made in the first paragraph.

    I can't speak for everyone. But I can tell you what me and my friends do that's different from previous generations.

    We're not trying to be apart of "pop culture" nor are we trying to wear the trendiest clothes, listen to the latest music, or be apart of any fad. That is actual the anti-thesis of what we want to do - SUPPORTING THE AUTHOR'S NOTION that what we are concerned most of is individualism and authenticity.

    "Pop Culture" was, still is a main stream movement produced without our input. The "clothes" "games" and "fads" you think we want to be apart of are actually abhorred by most in generation Y and beyond. I can't speak about the WIDE assumptions you make about our "work ethic," but I can comment about the lack of brand loyalty.

    Because, like the author implies, it has no input from us. It's a mass produced carbon copy of a creative. Which is why we take advantage of any opportunity to advocate what we like and dislike through social web.

    The "SENSORY" perceptions you have of gen Y are actually universal to every generation - just only recently available in THIS generation. If you want to debate that.... well then IDK what to tell you.

    ... I want to respond with as much tact and respect as possible. But you make a lot of presumptions about my generation that we would argue is an issue with ECONOMICS. I mean if something is innovative, nicer to look at, better designed, and just easier to use... well I think I would want that as opposed to an inferior product no matter what age or generation I was from.

    I mean... the last paragraph really throws me off Tommy... you propose the notion that Gen Y has a distinct need to "network and interact with others." The need for human interaction is as old as the saying "no man is an island."

    Being polite, I would say that maybe it's not the generation that exhibits the qualities you are proposing, but that the medium has changed and amplified the exercising of those qualities.

    On a personal note, I really take offense to being categorized as wanting the "latest in fashion and electronic gadgets" because "excess" is actually a consumption trait that historically is associated with the 80s!!!

    Simple test.... there's a poll on facebook as to the most popular music band in the 18 - 25 demographic.

    ALSO - twitter is a channel predominately used by the 30 and up demographic.

  4. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., February 5, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.

    .... I know it's rude... but seriously - I want a job in marketing after reading the first comment on this post.

  5. Dan Vaughan from Competitor Group, Inc., February 5, 2010 at 6:13 p.m.

    This says it all: "I like to show off my taste and style," - which in most cases is neither tasteful or stylish. Show off? What happened to humility and honesty - its an old saying, and still holds true - "no one likes a show-off" - but GenY does - so what does that say?

  6. Dave Coll from Mediakitchen, February 8, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.

    While most of this article holds true, I would warn against two tendencies I find almost every Gen Y article I read:
    #1 - Gen Y is a group of people, not a person.
    #2 - Don't build your article on dated assumptions, because the generation is still growing and developing.

    For instance:
    1. (CNN vs. NYTimes) It is important for many Gen Yers to be able to upload content to social media networks, such as Facebook. However, "individualism" through imbedding links may not be the deciding factor in this battle. For instance, as Gen Y ages and enters the work place, they will likely be in more situations where it is acceptable to use email, and much less acceptable to be on Facebook or other social networking sites. Let's not also forget that as this demographic ages, most will come out from under the supportive umbrella of their parents, and will be more likely to seek out free content, which would be a plus for vs. the Times.

    2. Be careful with the assumption that members of Gen Y will always find the next cutting edge fad. Gen X, now financially established and active in the workplace, is often on the forefront of the latest trend. Yes, Gen Y discovered some of the largest social media outlets, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube, and marketers should certainly keep tabs on their habits, but LinkedIn, Twitter, and the large dating social networks (eHarmony, etc.) are predominantly products of Gen X web usership. Let's also not forget that Facebook (through coincidence or not), was not very profitable until the surge of Baby Boomers within its usership.

    3. I think the Vicoria's Secret example is great. It allowed the people at that party to flaunt their creativity (real creativity, not just tweaking the specifics of a Facebook page) instantly, in an interestingly displayed manner, and in a way that directly related to their offline social life.

    4. While "authenticity" can be important to certain members of Gen Y, the author's supporting stereotypes about disliking authority and needing abbreviations are a bit misleading. Gen Y has generally had better upbringings than any preceding generation in terms of nutrition, emotional support, and economic stability. The economy was strong in their younger years, and the victorious, post-cold war America was idolized throughout their youth in the 90s. As a result, Gen Y is in general more likely to be authority-loving than say, Gen X or the boomers of the latter 60s. With generally better upbringings, a strong capitalist system, and a "good" government as the pillars of Gen Y's authoritative foundations, there is less reason than ever for this generation to dislike authority. The more important fact here is that they have been inundated with media from a young age, and have typically opted throughout their lives to take on MORE media. As a result, they are better than most previous generations at identifying when marketers are trying to sell them on something. Communicate on their level, yes, but not by putting more "LOL"s in your advertising. Try finding Gen Y spokespeople, or an interesting campaign that will leave Gen Y laughing and talking about a brand, while still inadvertently learning and being reminded that it exists.

    5. This is true. Make sure, however, not to limit your "absurd" marketing to youtube videos. Investigate what television your desired sub-Gen-Y demographic is interested in (yes, they still watch a LOT of television) and put a bizarre ad in that air space, find out where they are hanging offline and do something unique to catch their attention. Most members of Gen Y ARE linked at the hip to the internet, but they have lives away from the computer, involving other media as well.

    I hope you can appreciate this perspective as well. Gen Y, as a whole (because, like all generations, it is in fact NOT a whole), is quite difficult to understand. This article did a great job at trying to capture that.

    Just remember that they are still aging, still changing, still need constant observation to understand, and are more diverse than one would think.

  7. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., February 9, 2010 at 4:08 p.m.

    Kudos to Media Kitchen for making those points.

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