Reaching Gen Y

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Generation Y are recognised as a difficult audience to market to, not being interested in mainstream TV, reading newspapers or broadcast radio. Companies tie themselves up in knots trying to access this lucrative youth market. However, help is at hand from a surprisingly traditional source…

The Ygen or ‘millenials’ are the common labels used for the part of the population born in the ‘80s and ‘90s. With the rise of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, mobile phones and Instant Messaging they have earned the reputation for being techy, peer orientated (hardly a new thing) and desperately seeking instant gratification.

According to Harris’s Interactive 2003 Youth Pulse (SM) Survey in the US they represent more than 70 million consumers, earn a total annual income of $211 billion, spend approximately $172 billion per year and strongly influence many adult consumer buying choices.

It is the latter spend and influence figure that make them the darlings of the marketing world.

Guru Kenneth W. Gronbach tells a story about hearing his two daughters—aged 13 and 16—excitedly ask what came for them in the mail. Both, it turned out, received direct-mail offers from their favourite clothing retailer, and they immediately asked if he would take them shopping. “This is not a real question,” he writes, “because they know I’m trapped. How else will we save all the money reflected in the coupons?”

Even though this is the tech savvy generation, this enthusiasm for the low-tech approach of direct mail is not unusual. These consumers can’t be reached through the broadcast media and woe betide those organisations that attempt to join into their blogs and chat rooms. There have been some big backlashes for companies who have strayed into these forums.

The good old tried and tested direct mail is a godsend for marketeers.

Gronbach continues, “Put some compelling coupons in a snail-mail offer and watch what happens,”

It might not have the glamour of innovative, edgy marketing, but Generation Y loves direct mail. It may seem strange in this world of instant communication but if you try to market to Gen Y without using the mail you could be making a big, expensive mistake.

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