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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Trying To Understand Gen Y? Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable 07-07

Trying To Understand Gen Y? Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

This article is by Noah Kerner, co-founder and CEO of Noise, which helps clients innovate for the 18-34 market.
Millennials Jam Workshop: Youth and ICTs beyon...
(Photo credit: itupictures)
Gen Y has been given a bad rap. Lazy, entitled, job-hopping, socially impaired ADD tech-addicts – that’s what we’ve been told about them. But that’s not the full story.
When I compare this generation to my own, I see a lot to admire. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we were proud of making mix tapes (better than 8-tracks but not by much). Gen Y is mashing up the entire world’s content on the Internet.
 Instead of working hard to look cool, they love being smart. Instead of sneakers, smartphones are the ubiquitous status symbol. Instead of navel-gazing, Gen Y is making it happen.  My generation dreamed of making millions on Wall Street. Today’s young people dream bigger – building startups that change the world.Whether we like it or not, this generation is the future of our businesses. So we need to understand what makes Gen Y so different…and promising.
1. For Gen Y, technology is more than an addiction. It’s how they discover, understand and experience the world around them. And it’s how they always have, which means they have vastly different expectations than you do.
Bottom line: It’s time to radically shift to the cadence of 24/7 connectivity. Launching a few online campaigns a year won’t cut it nor will content calendars prepared a month out. They want new, all the time. Maybe it’s time for your campaign release cycles to mirror those of fashion retailer Zara? A new campaign released every Monday. There’s no time like this second.
2. For Gen Y, more is more. According to a recent JWT Intelligence report, 70% of Gen Y say that they want to visit every country, and 75% say they want to travel as much as possible. But it’s not just wanderlust: more than 70% would rather spend money on an experience than on a material item.
Bottom line: They are voracious livers of life and collectors of experience. They may be digital creatures, but they love the real world. To gain their loyalty, help them discover the unknown and share the unexpected. The hackneyed boardroom phrase is “surprise and delight” but yea, surprise and delight as often as possible. How about changing your logo every day? Google GOOG +0.79% does it.
3. Gen Y will not tolerate BS. According to anMTV Insights report, 70% claims “if a company is unfair with me, I’ll figure out how to make things fair.” And whatever you think the purpose of your business is, recent Deloitte research found that 36% of Gen Y globally believes that the purpose of business is to improve society.
Bottom line: Be transparent. Avoid any manufactured mystique. Think about how your business impacts our culture and find ways to improve that impact. It’s good business anyway.
4. Gen Y doesn’t want to be like Mike, they want to be like Mark. In other words, it’s cool to be smart. It’s also cool to put those smarts to use, which they will do whether asked or not.
Bottom Line: Rather than accepting the rules, they’ll be making their own. And remaking them. Expect that and get in on it.
5. Gen Y live and learn visually. Instagram, a purely visual social network, appeals to Gen Y more than any other age group. YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google. And half of Gen Y said that, according to MTV Insights: “people my age see real life as a video game.”
Bottom line: An image tells a thousand words. A thousand words will go unnoticed.
Take another look at this so-called lazy, go-nowhere, entitled generation. Though they are demanding, they are also sophisticated consumers and optimistic visionaries. Learn to speak their visual language. Invite them in to participate in the making and remaking of your brand. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s worth it to get this generation deeply involved in your business as quickly as possible. So get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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