It's About Respect

Gen Y is different than their Baby Boomer parents – and they make sure everyone knows. They were taught from a young age that they could do anything they want, that they are special, and there is nothing that they cannot do. They believe deeply in themselves and in being individuals with their own sense of style, opinions and values. Anyone standing in their way or bucketing them into groups is in danger of being written off as misunderstanding them. Let’s be honest: They want some genuine attention and recognition. More importantly, they want respect.

Respect in marketing

Brands can market to Gen Y’s desire for respect by treating them differently. The same company tagline and age-old ad campaigns that have “stood the test of time” will largely be ignored by this generation. They respond to risqué language and disruptive methods. They want something new and fresh - something that speaks to their generation and the language they use. It’s not about being overly politically correct and pleasing to everyone anymore; it’s about being real and authentic. It’s okay to say that some things suck and that you are trying to make them better. A differentiated approach to your marketing messages shows Gen Y that you respect them and care enough to speak directly to them.



Respect their time

Marketers think young people have all the time in the world. Guess what – they don’t agree! They have class, they work part-time, they were up all night working on that paper, they need time to figure out what they want from life, and, yes, time for their social life counts, too. So, respect their time. If you want them to engage with your brand, make it worth their while. Incentives pay off. Like you on Facebook, open your emails, fill out a survey? What’s in it for them? Little thank-you’s like $5 credits, a chance to win something, or even a t-shirt go a long way. They know that everyone wants five minutes of their time so they are smart enough to know that they can get something for it. Timing is the name of the game when it comes to reaching Gen Y.

Respect their budget

Remember that marketing to Gen Y is an investment in tomorrow’s dollars – not today’s. If they are still in school or recent grads, their money is tight. However, they are early in the customer lifecycle and represent the next generation of heavy consumers. So, respect their budget now and you will retain their loyalty later. Student discounts are a widely socially acceptable method of price differentiation.

Respect them face-to-face

There’s the sense that Gen Y is a purely digital generation. We’ve found that if anything, live events are more effective with Gen Y than the previous generation. If you give them something to experience live, they will build a strong, long-lasting positive association with your brand because they are attuned to marketing enough to recognize you are responsible for their good time, and give you full credit. They also appreciate the fact that you respect them enough to show up and say hello. Not enough brands take the time to engage with Gen Y offline, so it’s easy to stand out when you do.

The success of an event marketing strategy is still based on respecting the audience’s individuality. Give them the room to experience the event on their terms, and enhance the fun they want to have, rather than trying to force an activity on them.

Positioning your marketing to Gen Y is about engaging them differently. The language you use, how you approach them, where you advertise – it all matters. When you take time to speak directly to those in Gen Y, they take time to listen. Think outside the box and, please, have some respect.

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