This guest post is from Iman Rahim, a white paper editor at YAYA Connection. YAYA Connection is a professional services agency that specializes in the youth and young adult markets.
Public relations firm Edelman recently released a report describing the evolving relationship between brands and the youth and young adult (YAYA) generation — often referred to as millennials or Gen Y. The study surveyed 4,000 millennials across 11 countries and describes them as the largest, most diverse and most influential demographic in the market today. With a spending power of over $2.5 trillion and projected earnings that will outpace those of baby boomers by 2018, understanding Gen Y is an obvious imperative.
Perhaps the most interesting insight in the report is that millennials see themselves as alpha influencers who shape the behavior of their larger social circles. Almost 74 percent of people in the YAYA demographic think they influence the purchasing decisions of others. What’s more, 94 percent of millennials refer to outside sources when making a purchase decision. This by itself isn’t surprising, as search engines and social media have facilitated the use of crowdsourcing in the digital space. What is surprising, however, is that almost half of the millennials surveyed indicated that they prefer face-to-face conversations with friends and family before choosing whether or not to buy a product.
Masters of Crowdsourcing
What does this information mean for marketers? The first generation raised entirely in a digital world wants to be engaged online and offline. As modern masters of crowdsourcing, Gen Y seeks information in person and via the Internet. But as the research bears out, offline engagement is absolutely critical for brands to effectively communicate with the YAYA demographic.
“Marketers tend to neglect the value millennials place on face-to-face conversations.”
Companies can easily engage millennials by creating brand ambassadors on college campuses. By hiring students to be their representatives, brands co-opt inside knowledge of school traditions, events and campus hotspots to reach millennials in-person. Brand ambassadors make it easy for companies to communicate with the YAYA demographic face-to-face, on their turf and in their language.
Another way to communicate with Gen Y offline is through experiential marketing. Millennials place significant value on group and social activities. As a recent report points out, almost 94 percent of YAYA consumers discuss brand experiences in which they participated. Perhaps more importantly, 99.4 percent welcome ongoing communications with a brand after an event. Experiential marketing empowers millennials by involving them in the brand experience and bringing them face-to-face with the product or service.
Millennials are unquestionably the most covetous, but difficult to reach, consumers in the market. For marketers to effectively tap into this demographic, they must learn to engage with them offline as well as online. These digital natives value face-to-face conversations with their peers and brand experiences. Marketers should recognize this in order to reach this ever-important demographic.