Monday, December 10, 2007

Gen Y Panel Notes

Here are the panel notes prepared for last night's (9 December 2007) Generation Y Digital Nation seminar held on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).

1). The term Generation Y (Gen Yers)
The term Generation Y (Gen Yers) first appeared in an August 1993 magazine AD Age editorial to describe those born between 1981–1995.The scope of the term has changed greatly since then, to include, in many cases, anyone born as early as 1976 and late as 2000.

2). Oman’s Demographics – Large Gen Y Community
3,204,897 note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2007 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years: 42.7% (male 698,461/female 670,793) 15-64 years: 54.6% (male 1,026,686/female 723,712) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 47,534/female 37,711) (2007 est.)

Median age - Total: 18.9 years Male: 21.5 years Female: 16.5 years (2007 est.)

3). Gen Y & Rebirth of Community Spirit
"Personal computing is more and more 'interpersonal' - people use computers to relate to others online" (Crainer quoting Tapscott, 273, 2006). Written almost 10 years ago, Tapscott's prediction that the internet would become a community springboard rather than an isolating phenomena has come true. Commonly referred to as "Web 2.0," this new movement of up and coming websites is all about interaction, communication, and mass customization. Instead of viewing the web as a conglomerate of static pages designed by a group of highly skilled programmers, Web 2.0 sites encourage browsers to make spaces that are all their own (customized templates, backgrounds, music, etc.) while at the same time integrating features that instantly connect like-minded others. Blogging is just one example of this community trend. Not only are people able to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with the world at large, but many bloggers find that the "at large" part isn't as big as many assume....

4). Use of Technology
From older Baby Boomers to young adults, people use the same kinds of technology, but it's Gen Y that's integrating it into their daily lives at a faster rate than ever before, a research firm said Monday.

Generation Yers are spending more time online, watching less TV, engaging in more social computing activities, such as instant messaging; and using more social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Youtube than any other generation.

Mobile phone use provides the best example of how the younger generation is integrating technology into their lifestyles. Fully, 45 percent of Gen Yers who have mobile phones use data services, led by text messaging, ring tones and games.

That percentage, however, drops significantly for the older generations. Fully, 27 per cent of phone-carrying Gen Xers, defined as 27 to 40 years old; and 17 per cent of younger Baby Boomers, 41 to 50 years old, use data services.

Gen Yers spend an average of 12.2 hours online every week, which is 28 per cent longer than Gen Xers and almost twice as long as older Boomers, which range from 51 to 61 years old, Gen Yers are 50 per cent more likely than Gen Xers to send text messages, twice as likely to read blogs and three times as likely to use social networking sites.

When it comes to online shopping, Gen Xers lead the charge. This year, 16.9 per cent of Gen Xers are expected to shop online, compared with 9.6 per cent of older Boomers, 12.4 percent of younger Boomers and 4 per cent of Gen Yers. Those numbers are not surprising, considering that the prime spending years are 27 to 50 years old. Fully 41 per cent of US household now shop online.

When it comes to online banking, however, Gen Yers lead with 67 per cent having checked bank account balances during the last three months, compared with 64 per cent for Gen Xers, 53 per cent for younger Boomers and 49 per cent for older Boomers.

5). Bit More on Marketing
Marketers trying to anticipate future consumer trends should tune in to Gen Yers. As these do-it-yourselfers become a primary consuming audience, they will carry with them their cross-channel shopping enthusiasm, active blog usage, and reliance on the information-scouring powers of Google.

One key data point that stands out: 24% of Gen Yers read blogs, which is twice as often as the 12% of Gen Xers (ages 27-40) and three times the 7% of Young Boomers (ages 41-50) that read blogs. So sceptics of blogs should suspend their disbelief and look to at least one bellwether demographic to get an idea of how widespread blog readership can potentially grow in the future.

This then begs the question whether marketers should have a blog themselves to connect with blog readers. The answer is a qualified "yes", with the huge caveat that companies shouldn't have a blog just to have one. The better question to ask is whether you are interested in engaging in a different type of dialogue that this generation seeks in its regular interactions -- one characterized by give and take and a culture of generosity. All too often, marketers see blogs as yet another channel through which they can foist their existing marketing messages but beware as Gen Yers can sniff insincerity out in a nanosecond.

6). Profiling Gen Yers
The Tough Side: Generation Yers tend to share a number of common characteristics, many of which fly in the face of their Boomer and Xer predecessors' values.

They're impatient. Gen Yers have been raised in a fast-paced world dominated by technology and instant gratification. The result: Speed, not patience, is their virtue. Don't be surprised if they chafe at many-stepped processes and bureaucracy — or prefer to vault over, rather than methodically ascend, the corporate ladder.

They're skeptical. Generation Y wears a BS detector on top of its head - and why not? They've been scammed to, lied to and exploited.

They're disengaged. According to a November 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation Report, "Kids and Media @ The New Millennium," 8 to 18 year olds are exposed to almost eight hours of media each day—including TV, videos, computers and video games. As a result, expect this generation to eschew single, focused challenges in favour of multiple and varied projects.

They're blunt and expressive. Told repeatedly to Just Do It, Gen Yers value self-expression over self-control and speak their minds freely — a tendency that can get them in trouble when dealing with customers, co-workers or people in authority.

This doesn't mean, however, that Generation Y doesn't heed respect. But Generation Y won't automatically offer up their respect just because someone is older or has a title.

The Bright Side: Like any generation, what makes Generation Y difficult to deal with is also what makes it uniquely skilled. A number of talents and tendencies dominate, including the fact that they are:

· adaptable
· techno savvy
· able to grasp new concepts
· multi-taskers
· efficient
· tolerant

Perhaps the most surprising attribute many Gen Yers share is a sense of commitment. They pledge their hearts and souls to causes that they believe in, which makes them very loyal employees.

Money Isn't—Mostly—Everything
Compensation plays a tricky role for Generation Y. While it isn't the end all and reward all that it often has been for previous generations of workers, when the chips are down, it still makes a difference.

Marketing to Gen Yers: Getting it Right?
Here are 14 ways to improve your marketing success to Generation Y

1. Avoid clich├ęs and insincerity.
2. Avoid hype.
3. Use sound bites, strong images and short snappy phrases.
4. Keep your marketing text concise.
5. Use plenty of cool graphics.
6. Keep the tone of your marketing campaign low-key and sincere.
7. Show concern for the environment.
8. Understand that they expect instant gratification.
9. Appeal to their sense of being technologically savvy.
10. Emphasize the functional benefits of your products/services.
11. Be realistic and offer practical information.
12. Emphasize quality.
13. Understand that this group is bright, technically astute and sophisticated buyers.
14. Keep abreast of trends and respond quickly to its ever-changing needs and wants.

7). Creating Brand Recognition for Gen Y
Creating brand recognition with Gen Y can be tough. By practically becoming an extension to their computers and mobile devices, they are quickly moving the bulk of marketing to the Internet. Where is all that time being spent online though? For many, it's on games. Believe it or not, online games are forms of social networking too. We're not just talking about Yahoo! Pool but a host of others like World of Warcraft, Lineage II, and Everquest — games that have subscribers in the millions and boast annual sales in the billions. In these simulated worlds, players can chat, shop, create interest groups, throw parties and do virtually anything save their homework.If you're looking to provide interactive content for Gen Yers, games may be the way to go. Some hotel and automobile marketers like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Ford, and Toyota and have already taken advantage of cross-promotion opportunities. Many brands make their appearance in virtual worlds through clothing and food as well.

8). Blogging
Information used to be controlled by a powerful few but now Gen Yers are revolutionizing things with the Internet. This generation no longer settles for what big companies are willing to offer and instead are finding their own ways to get exactly what they want. Marketers should be keen to notice that this doesn’t exclusively apply to products but information too.
Back in the day, it was okay for companies to stay low-key on the Web but now more than a main site is required to connect with the wired Gen Yers. While many Gen Yers frequently check blogs, podcasts and emails, a large percentage of business executives reported that they had no plans to spread information about their companies on blogs or community sites. This can be troublesome to companies unaware of their reputations from other Generation Y sources. Moreover, Gen Yers are less prone to trust big companies due to a disparity in attitudes.

9). Gen Y Leads Purchasing Decisions
Gen Y is seen as one of the most lucrative market segments for many online brands. Now, a new study reported in an article by USA Today asserts that Generation Y surpasses the Baby Boomers in purchasing power and heavily influences most family purchase decisions.
Often studied by marketers as the leaders in new fashion trends, Generation Y is turning away from department stores, such as JC Penney or Dillard’s, and favoring high-end brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, and Express for their clothing needs. They are also more likely to bargain shop at places like Goodwill or similar thrift stores than to shop at department stores, mixing a need for high-fashion with a sense of fiscal frugality.

Similar trends can be traced across the retail spectrum, from automobiles to electronics. Generation Y’s need for immediacy will steer them towards discount webs sites offering free shipping such as eBay Express or Overstock.com and away from text-intensive sites with poor navigation. Retailers would be smart to acknowledge that Gen Y associates a quality made web site with a quality brand and vice versa.