Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
6th Jul 2012

How to connect with today’s youth: Part 2

Yesterday we released Part 1 of "How to connect with today's youth" and if you haven't read it yet, we advise you to do so before diving into Part 2. To review, the first half of this article revealed the characteristics of youth and the impact technology and social media have been having on Generation Y. These findings are from InSites Consulting, a global ‘new generation’ research agency that explores various aspects of branding, marketing and advertising to kids, teens and young adults. Insites' latest research "How to connect with urban millennials" takes a look at what drives Gen Y and how global brands can really connect with youth worldwide. The findings also highlight the key dimensions behind cool places, products and brands derived from a research community connecting urban youth in 15 different cities around the globe. In order to help you better understand Gen Y thinking and craft your marketing efforts accordingly, we present some additional highlights and the full report below.

Gen Y evolutions

Through their global research community, Insites Consulting was able to observe several interesting trends and evolutions in the behaviour of young people. Renting and sharing property The economic downturn on the one hand and exponential housing prices on the other hand have spurred youth to rent properties rather than buy them. Sharing expensive items is not only smart but also has positive side effects on the environment. That’s why recent start-ups like Buzzcar in France (to share cars) or Frents in Germany (sharing and renting out belongings whenever you don’t need them) are getting the attention of youth worldwide. Customising, co-creation and smart crowds Generation Y believes in the social economy. If they had to start up a business today, it would incorporate social networking. They believe in this medium since it is essential to involve and engage them individually, and communicate with them on a real one-to-one basis to build a sustainable and meaningful relationship. Social media is their most important news channel because this media form is the most up-to-date and also the most tailored and targeted to their wants and needs. Their favourite brands are the ones that offer customisation of their products and communications. It’s about giving the brand back to the fans/consumers. Gen Y’ers firmly believe that both products and marketing actions should be co-created and they feel the crowd will always outsmart the individual. Peers are the most trusted source of information, which explains why user ratings are very important to them and will always be consulted before making purchasing decisions. Hence the rise of countless online review websites - a trend which has now arrived in the education arena with newcomers such as EducationStars and Abroad101. Happiness Gen Y is an emotion-driven generation and more emotional than previous generations. The quest for happiness is key in their lives (particularly because - as outlined in Part 1 - they are experiencing their quarter life crises and constantly benchmarking against others). Leisure-time activities such as going out, food and drinks, and travelling all need a strong emotional component allowing them to escape and relax from everyday reality. In fact, a recent article on Talking Retail just confirmed that in the UK, Millenials go out 32 times a month, which is 29% more often than at the same time last year. Going out to eat or drink is a lifestyle, not a luxury, and has become embedded in youth culture. Youth are looking for both indulgence and adrenaline-provoking thrills. The trend of “gamification” of society - offering competition and challenge - fits in perfectly with this experience-driven life, which probably explains the success of contests in so many company's marketing plans. Insites recommends that brands challenge their young target groups and position their products as achievements or a moment of indulgence or escape after hard work. Working or studying abroad for a semester Life is all about experiencing something extraordinary or new. Young people have always been involved in exploring the unknown, but today they have so many more possibilities to make that happen. For example, taking a gap year is much more common today than it was for previous generations. Studying abroad for at least one semester or starting an international career is seen as 'a must' by Millenials in order to obtain language skills and improve intercultural understanding. Brands that radiate this cosmopolitan feeling, connecting youth from all parts of the world with shared interests and passions, will hit a sensitive spot of Gen Y. The cool factor Insites went on to identify why something generated happiness or was considered to be cool, real, and unique - just like these Millenials. They found that ‘coolness’ today surpasses its historic links with resistance or rebel attitudes. For this generation, cool brands are attractive, appealing brands which are popular in their immediate social circle and bring a sense of novelty, surprise or originality. They found eight different dimensions of coolness with youth around the world:

  1. togetherness and shared experiences
  2. international feeling
  3. story generation
  4. making life easier and delivering experiences
  5. high quality
  6. novelty
  7. limited and hidden
  8. unexpected

For companies, it means they have to reinvent themselves continuously, not by looking at what other players are doing but by developing from within the heart of the company or brand. This grassroots thinking is about creating and maintaining relevance for the stimulus-addicted Generation Y.

Connect and engage

To stay hot and follow the current evolutions among youth, cool brands need to connect on a deep and individual, emotional level with Generation Y’ers. Youth love engaging with brands that feel as close to them as their best friends, and are eager to help marketers and researchers to go the extra mile based on their valuable input. Gen Y’ers want to be heard and want to change the world. Brands that are willing to put them in the driver’s seat will benefit from their insights. With this generation, brands first need to earn trust and affection. Successful Gen Y brands don’t dictate or shout, but empower and leave control in the hands of youth. The main difference between shouting and having a conversation on equal levels is actually listening. Brands that are truly capable of listening to the assertive voice of this generation, not just to pre- or post-test existing ideas but to re-evaluate their brand’s core positioning, products and campaigns (like MTV did), will find their relationship gaining strength. For more details, you can view the full report below (tip - click the cross icon in the bottom right corner to view in full screen).

Source: InSites Consulting

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