The Question Is Y?

So many questions, so many more answers. Experts in abundance and so little insight and consensus!!

It is amazing how just one generation, Y, can cause such interest, debate, confusion and contradiction.

The essential answers will not be found by interviewing or listening to Generation Y themselves. They are confused, are looking for their own answers and identity. Indeed, that is the characteristic which makes them individually and collectively so interesting. It is they who are reaching out to their grandparents in search of finding themselves, their family histories, their sense of being and place in society.

Countless truisms are paraded about those in the market category Generation Y. Each has an element of truth, but in the main suffer from misinterpretations founded on the paradigms and perspectives through which analysts, business people, employers and service providers view this fascinating subgroup.

Perhaps the scenario provides a unique, differing perspective of the phrase and concept “six degrees of separation”. The truisms contain an element of accuracy, but falter by a matter of degree.

In marketing, little things mean a lot.

Let’s address the more common statements and truisms relating to Generation Y.


Sound sentiments, but in reality, an error of fact.

Belying that belief are the large numbers of 17 to 30 year olds successfully employed in advertising agencies and marketing departments. These are not instances of sacrilege. Many of these people are creative, innovative and entrepreneurial.

No Generation Y person tends to like advertising that is aggressive, condescending and offers “unbelievable deals”.

This market segment is essentially online savvy. At the time of purchase many have utilised the internet to retrieve, collate and analyse information.

As a consequence, they are informed, discerning and sensitive to what represents value. They don’t need to be sold. To share information and to be educated is an entirely different proposition. They want to connect and interact, not be subjected to intrusive, one way advertising communication.


By the time the contemporary adolescents and young adults graduate from school or university, they have been exposed to countless statements by educators that they can expect to experience at least 7 major careers changes during their working life.

If conditioned behaviour counts for anything, it does create expectations and perceptions.

Thus, it is not that those Generation Y do not want careers and longer term relationships in commerce and industry. It is simply that they have been conditioned to not expect such.

Security may be off the agenda, however research has isolated other aspects and elements which have appeal and are compelling messages in the marketing and employment arenas.

So close, yet so far…

The issue is one of determine time horizons which are relevant and pertinent to those in the target audience.


No argument here. They are no different to any group of consumers and clients.

Self interest and what is in terms of advantages and benefits for the individual consumer persists and is largely the universal compelling, selling and marketing proposition.

Perhaps the point of difference is the willingness and ability to express one’s wants, needs, desires and values. Extended use of and exposure to multi media does improve one’s communication skills.


Information and knowledge in the world is reportedly doubling within 18 months. It is difficult if not possible, to keep abreast of change and of current data.

One consequence is that for some, read Generation Y, if it is not new then it’s obsolete, redundant, irrelevant and lacks appeal.

New is now news. It is something to talk about. Consumers have become market, fashion, technology and marketing mavens. That is, personal knowledge and the willingness to share that knowledge establishes one’s presence and status. The phenomena overlaps the truism about one can’t sell to those in Generation Y. With the ready, ongoing exchange of information among contemporary, peer sources of influence there is little or no need for aggressive advertising and high pressure selling techniques.


Those adult consumers under the age of 30 years have a fascinating take on endorsements. For them “celebrity” has a differing perspective.

Credibility is established by what is being seen, worn, utilised or spoken about on the streets. To this select group, peer acceptance and endorsement have higher rankings and priorities to what entertainers, elite sports people and artistes get paid considerable sums to promote.

This could simply imply that scope exists for a second lower level of below the line marketing expenditure and initiative which involves little outlay but generates considerable recognition, comment, interest, demand and sales.


It is perhaps now apparent that many messages and value propositions need to be repackaged to penetrate, relate to and satisfy those in Generation Y. Fortunately, the refining process is both a fun and profitable journey.

However, too many existing and established businesses do not pay sufficient attention to the messenger, who will ultimately deliver the promise and the message. Therein lies the key to unlocking the unfulfilled, and often, unrecognised potential.

Our research into this subgroup has established a number of essential parameters.


So “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” And yes, it is time that you can sell to those in Generation Y, as indeed you can induce longer term relationships, more loyal patronage and less price sensitive buying.