When our company, Sugar, Inc., began four years ago, the intent was to develop original content with a focus on women, ages 18-34, and their core passion points. Though we were one of the first blogs in this space, we found the competition stiff and the battle for mindshare getting tougher in no time. We were quick to take stock in our business and examine the core audience and what they were doing digitally -- we were born in the digital space and had no intent of building offline.
We made a calculated decision to pivot on one central theme -- Gen Y women -- and took note of where they were spending time and what they were doing online. As a result, we built a business model that expands and adapts to the changing online landscape and generates revenue through multiple sources.
Basically, we followed Gen Y in a sense by mimicking their behavior and becoming multi-faceted -- in this case by building a business inclusive of e-commerce, community, video, gaming, local offers and more. We recognized early on that you couldn't pin this generation down, that diversity and personal expression is everything to them. We realized that if we built a one-dimensional business, we risked losing Gen Y's attention -- and, potentially, our shirts!
To be successful in today's ever-changing business world, follow a few of these lessons Gen Y has involuntarily delivered to us:
When we built ours, we thought of ourselves as a global publisher and anticipated growing globally, not locally. Over the course of the last few years, we saw an explosion in the local marketplace. We recognized through mobile and other platforms that local exploration and region-specific special offers were generating a significant reaction from Gen Y. We wanted to position ourselves like the audience, so we bought a company called FreshGuide and are now emphasizing all local initiatives.
This isn't a case of the old dog learning new ways to roll over. Generation Y continues to adapt and embrace new forms of communicating, connecting and expressing themselves, which should be viewed as an example worth following rather than a threat. Though they exhibit consumer behavior that's tough to predict, it's something that can teach all businesses, and in the process, makes them poised to succeed.