Social media and the digital world is inherently entwined in the lives of Generation Y. I can remember getting my first computer in the mid 1990s. A bulky desktop, hooked up to a million cables and wires. The possibilities, it seemed, were endless with this machine. Little did I know that this computer and what came to be in the years following, would come to define my generation. Can I imagine a world without my laptop or my smart phone? Not really. As a 22-year-old consumer, I can tell you that my attention can be short and my demands can be great. I live in a world where practically anything from social media to many of the products I purchase can be customized to fit my lifestyle.
Can you grab our attention?
Heavily immersed in the digital world, Generation Y has grown accustomed to extreme multi-tasking. With an iPod plugged in, we surf the Web, write and research papers, text friends, tweet and chat with friends via Facebook simultaneously. We are always connected. Gen Yers (or Millennials, as we are often called) are also willing and not afraid to challenge the status quo. We search out environments that inspire our creativity and independent thinking. Gen Y is tech-savvy and achievement-oriented. However, this drive to achieve doesn’t necessarily equal making a lot of money. This ambition comes in the form of seeking out new challenges and taking advantage of meaningful opportunities.
Like me, others in my demographic have used the digital world to grow, question, learn and express ourselves. Gen Y is different from generations that have come before, and this even includes our consumer tendencies. We are blind to the more traditional forms of advertising. TV commercials and magazine ads don’t really affect us. We pay little to no attention to them. So here’s a secret: in order to grab our attention, you have to fish where the fish are. And where are we? You guessed it! We’re online. Twitter, Facebook, blogs and our favorite websites are places we frequent at least once a day, either from a computer, a smart phone or an iPad. Gen Y seeks to spend their time in meaningful and useful ways and we search for brands and products that we feel have meaning and relevance to the way we live our lives. For many Gen Yers, that whole image thing is pretty important too. We become loyal to the brands that align with our lifestyle and the image we want to put forth.
We have power.
According to an article in USA Today, “Gen Y is the most influential generation for retailers because it is bigger than the Baby Boomers and its members have spending power and strong opinions at an earlier age.” As a Millennial, this spending power can come in the form of influencing the purchases of my Baby Boomer parents even though I no longer live under their roof. Parents of Gen Y trust their children’s consumer opinion.
It’s also interesting to note that this generation has a strong need for instant gratification. In some cases, this immediacy can be a bit extreme. For instance, these consumers will wait no longer than six long seconds for a page to download before they click away. The need for immediacy can be both a benefit and disadvantage for a brand. For example, the first day that the pumpkin spice flavor was back on Starbucks’ menu, I tweeted my excitement while standing in line for the first of many pumpkin spice lattes I would consume during the fall season. However, if I would have had a bad customer service experience while at Starbucks, I could have just as easily tweeted my dissatisfaction before even receiving my drink.
We’re smart and resourceful.
Gen Y uses the Internet for more than just response and reaction. We use the Internet as a resource. Even if we plan on purchasing a particular item in a store, Gen Yers have a high tendency to go online to research a product before setting foot in the store. We are smart consumers. Online research, online price comparison and social media marketing play a prominent role in our purchasing decisions.
Oh, and what about that Recession? Many Gen Yers can also be dubbed “Recessionistas.” We have learned to become informed shoppers who keep tight budgets, but are still able to stay trendy and cultured.
Wondering what changes Generation Z will bring to the digital and consumerist worlds? Only time will tell.
Jodi Osmond recently graduated summa cum laude from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and media communication and certification in digital arts and culture. As a social media and community engagement intern at Allée, she is eager to continue growing professionally while embracing her passion for public relations and social media.