Marketing to younger generation

They’re dubbed ‘Echo Boomers’ or “generation Yâ€?. They grew up during times of economic abundance followed by years of economic recession. Their world was defined by long years of national calm and peace disrupted by events like 9/11. They have been ‘wired’ almost from birth playing computer games, navigating the World wide Web, downloading music, connecting with friends via instant messaging and mobile. They have a sense of entitlement and abundance from having grown up during the economic boom and being pampered by their boomer parents. They are selective, confident and also impatient. They ‘want what they want and they want it’ — and they often get it by using plastic. The average 21-year-old is carrying almost $3,000 in credit debt.

The influences that have shaped the Gen Y cohort are incredibly important to marketers because Generation Y is the force that will shape consumer and business markets for years to come. Born between 1977 and 1994, Generation Y is three times the size of Generation X. Roughly 78 million Americans belong to this group, the largest generational cohort in American history. Their spending power is estimated at $187 billion annually. Take that $187 billion factor in career growth, household and family formation and multiply by another 53 years of life expectancy you’re in the $10 trillion range in consumer spending over the life span of today’s 21 year old.

It’s not surprising then that market researchers and advertisers are racing to get a bead on Gen Y’s buying behavior. Because they are often turned off overt branding practices and a ‘hard sell’ marketers have tried many different approaches to reach and persuade Generation Y. Some of them are outlined below:

1. Online buzz — Rock band Foo Fighter created a digital street team that sends targeted e-mail blasts to members who get the latest news, exclusive audio/video sneak previews, tons of chances to win great Foo Fighters prizes, and become part of the Foo Fighter Family.

2. Student ambassadors — Red Bull enlists college students as Red bull Student Brand Managers to distribute samples, research drinking trends, design on-campus marketing initiatives and write stories for student newspapers.

3. Unconventional sports —- Dodge automobiles sponsors the World dodge ball Association, which is taking the sport to a new level by emphasizing teamwork, strategy, and skill.

4. Cool events —- The US Open of Surfing attracted sponsors such as Honda, Philips Electronics and, of course, O’Neill Clothing, originators of the first suit. Spring break in Florida has been the place for the launch of such products as Old Spice Cool Contact Refreshment Towels and Calvin Klein’s CK swimwear line.

5. Computer games — Product placement is not restricted to movies or TV: Mountain Dew, Oakley, and Harley Davidson all made deals to put logos on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 from Activision.

6. Videos — Burton snow boards ensures that its boards and riders are clearly visible in any video that are shot.

7. Street teams — As part of an anti-smoking crusade, The American legacy hires teens as the ‘Truth Squad’ to find out T-shirts, bandanas, and dog tags at teen target events.