Marketing To Generation Y. Just Get The Basics Right!

Marketing to Generation Y

As a marketeer and a Gen Y I fit into a position where I can say how ‘we’ like to receive marketing. There’s a change well in it’s cycle where large corporations are trying to become ‘cool’ and market to millennials. Some do a superb job whereas others fail. It’s the nature of the beast and the approach companies are adapting to.

Start up’s have this nailed. Just look at the marketing strategy of any startup and the millennials will be a core focus. Social media of some capacity and the production of great content is typically the driver of such strategies.

Just one look at the Oracle report on Gen Y spending and you will in the US alone by 2015 the expected annual spend of millennials will be approximately 2.45trillion USD. (Source) It’s certainly a Generation who are spending and those spending habits are growing. But why wouldn’t they be? As the years progress more millennials will occupy senior positions in organisations with disposable income to match. It’s happening people.

But how do we market to the millennial generation? The million dollar question; or in this case the 2.4trillion dollar question!

Companies are losing focus of the core values of ethics of the millennial generation and attempting to go viral without remembering the core result of all marketing efforts. We are in a viral phase where ideas are pushed across social in a vain attempt to trigger the mind of millennials

There’s no one sized fits all approach when it comes to marketing however to get into the minds of millennials here are some tips from a Gen Y child.

Provide worth/Create a need:

The first step in the customer buying process is the ‘need’ requirement. Does the product recognise the need of the individual? Some products will require this need/worth to be created by an external stimuli like advertising whereas others may be an internal stimuli in the shape of hunger.

It’s often the case that an internal stimuli still requires an external. ‘Why should I buy this product?, What separates your service from the rest?’ and so forth. You cannot just appear and expect millennials to buy into your product. This needs to be sold or such worth requires creation.

If your product lacks either a need or has little value then why for what reason would someone buy as such? This comes back to the unique selling point days. Millennials are no different; they need to be told why your product should be bought over another.

Help us with the research phase:

As a Gen Y child I would suggest we are the most conscious consumer generation ever. Why? We grew up in an era of the internet and mobile phones. The connected era almost. We are children of the Google search engine.

When I am going through the a specific purchasing decision whether it’s a $100 coffee machine or a $10000 car I extensively research for customer feedback, small print, longevity, market trends and so forth. This may seem exhaustive however the information is readily available via search engines. Furthermore millennials often seek advice from their social media followers. Customer to customer engagement is larger than ever. If brands have advocates due to a great product then they are on the winning climb.

By becoming a great brand you are subliminally doing the research phase for us which is why Amazon became such a prominent retailer. They developed the research phase before the brands themselves could do so all by supplying technology and a voice. Customer to customer interaction drives significant sales to Amazon. User generated content via their reviews section is what I and many use for our research stage.

Research can also happen subconsciously. After seeing the ‘great’ customer service BufferApp provided via Twitter I decided to use them as my social media scheduling tool purely due to the invested time they placed on customer support.

Products are bought after extensive research. Brands have to provide me with this research in order to make a conscious buying decision when looking at their product.

Don’t make me talk to someone:

I’m an outgoing guy and LOVE to speak however when making a product purchasing decision online the idea of having to talk to someone to complete a transaction or have help with  transaction is unappealing.

We like to make our own informed decisions without bias or outside influence. One of the reasons why there is a downturn in offline retail is due to online offering a less intrusive shopping experience.

Don’t make your marketing message one which requires human interaction unless that is your service. Sometimes not speaking and removing unnecessary interaction can be the marketing strategy you have always been looking for.

Amazon is an easy example as their product page is produced in a way that you have all the information required to make the decision without the need for unnecessary steps. User generated reviews, a clear product description and imagery. With all this you can make a decision whether the product is right for you.
Generation Y as consumers are more likely to find your business an attractive proposition if you make it a decision they can make without consultation.

Seamless purchasing online:

Millennials love to shop online. So much so that according to eMarketer 40% of Males and 33% of Females would buy everything online if they could. With this information the business strategy needs to be altered to appeal to this demographic.

Purchasing online should mean purchasing online. I have personally come across eLearning platforms which offer ‘online’ courses but the checkout process involves a number of uneasy steps or manual interaction with a worker. This is not ideal.

In the millennial generation seamless purchasing online is essential for all businesses. One click purchases for existing customers, automatic profile creation via your social entities; these should all be the norm for those operating online. A simple way to market to Generation Y is to make your checkout process appeal to them. Millennials value free time and are turned away by clunky check out processes.

In order to market to millennials you need the right structure in place when it comes to purchase. If this is seamless and effortless you already have a marketing machine in the works. If you haven’t then we will just move onto another business who can meet our demands.


Have a personality:

Most traditional companies see online as an extension of their current offline offerings. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Online personalities are expected from Millennials. Brands who engage and converse within social media are seen as the benchmark. If you’re a consumer focused brand and you’re not doing this then you are doing something wrong.

Some of the best examples of this were while the Superbowl was taking place. Brands excelled and millennials across the globe rejoiced. Here’s a great summary of some of the big winning brands from the Superbowl weekend.

As a generation who have grown up with social media we expect conversation and dialogue with brands via social. Those brands who can do this while having a personality are typically accepted by Millennials more than rigid organisations who lack the social prowess. I focus on social as this is the true place where brands can really flex their personality and win advocates. Having influencers within Generation Y as advocates is a great marketing tool in itself.

Listen to your Gen Y employees:


It’s estimated that Generation Y will in approximately 10 years rule the workplace. But are we utlising their knowledge now? Marketing to millennials by millennials. Has anyone ever thought about that?

Your Generation Y employees are the ones who buy products, who are socially savvy and who share common interests with the influencers you need to attract. Why not brainstorm with your millennials in what makes the generation tick? Look into values, key characteristics and utilise this within your thought process.

Generation Y like brands with relevance within their advertising who create a rapport with the consumer. By listening to your employee’s you can tap into their knowledge base and create clever marketing which appeals to millennials. Give your employees a chance to contribute and reap the rewards it’s what we all crave.


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About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.


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