By Amanda Ferrante, Assistant Editor
Socializing with peers and specially targeted events are two ways marketers are reaching the new generation of consumers: Gen Y – the 14- to 24-year-olds who are desensitized to traditional advertising and expect marketing messages to be personalized just for them.
Working with retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Adidas, Mr. Youth, a six-year-old advertising solutions company, creates customized events to introduce new products to the Gen Y segment. The company recently released a white paper titled “Consumer 2.0: Five Rules to Engaging a New Breed of Consumer,” to spotlight the nuances of reaching Gen Y and shed some light on the different characteristics and behaviors that are influencing the way marketing messaging is created and perceived.
Personalization offers Pizzazz
Niche is The New Norm, according to the researchers at Mr. Youth. “Because of social networks, young people [also known as the Web 2.0 consumers] are desensitized to traditional advertising media,” says Matt Britton, Managing Partner of Mr. Youth. “These consumers have come to expect a level of personalization in everything.”
The Mr. Youth white paper explains how today’s young shopping generation defines “fitting in.” “Social networks allow people to seek out others with the exact same interest — it’s really micro-segmented,” Britton says.
The expectation of personalization is translating directly to purchasing behavior. Even though a mass market retailer may be selling thousands of the same t-shirt, that retailer may be the second choice for the Gen Y consumers, who may choose a specialty retailer offering nichy designed shirts that they perceive represent them individually.
Nike has created the ultimate example of personalization, notes Britton, with NikeiD, which allows consumers to design their own shoes using several templates and colors. “Every shoe is unique,” Britton says.
Other ways to reach the Web 2.0 consumer include targeted offers based on previous purchasing habits, like Amazon.com’s recommendations. “It’s hard to reach all consumers,” notes Britton. “But you can speak to consumers, and targeted offers are a great way of doing that. Retailers really need to have a better focus on relating to their customers — and knowing who they are.”
Build the Buzz
Since word-of-mouth has always been a reliable source of both negative and positive buzz, the Web 2.0 consumer is that much more of a chatterbox, with social networks, once again, stepping in as a useful platform. “Retailers need to use their consumers to reach others,” Britton says. “Evangelists” of a store will spread the word when a retail store accomplishes the aforementioned factors — like personalization and relationship building. This method is cost-effective for retailers, and is marketable. “Give information that’s relevant to the customer and the tools they need to spread the word,” Britton says.
The Web 2.0 consumer is the future, and it’s imperative for retailers to cater to this segment. “Companies that aren’t able to offer these services are ultimately going to fail with this new generation of shoppers,” Britton says.
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