This blog is in pseudo-response to my colleague, Sara’s “Social media – it’s not for everyone”. The evidence proves that not every retailer is using social media, and it’s clearly working for a select few, but there is clearly a market that responds positively to marketing through social media. We all know, and hopefully love, that market as Generation Y.
It’s no surprise that times are changing. Baby Boomers are getting older and slowly, but surely, dwindling as the major market share of active consumers. People between the ages of 16 and 34 add up to approximately 79 million potential customers… baby boomers? 76 million and that number will obviously decrease as the Millennial generation becomes more influential. The Millennials may be direct descendants of their baby boomer predecessors, but we are more than different. As everyone can see from the dismal job market, global youth unemployment is at an all-time high. Furthermore, the Millennials are much less likely than their parents to remain loyal to their employer for 30+ years. We have been conditioned from birth never to settle and always reach for our dreams. Our dreams these days typically do not include corporate structure. We want to DO through active learning and sharing innovative ideas, while Baby Boomers spent their formative years on learning the power hierarchy and rising through the ranks. We are placing a lot more value in the type of work we do, rather than the paycheck at the end of the two weeks. (Please forgive the generalizations, but I’m sure we can all see some validity in these trends.)
These tendencies don’t stop within the job market. They are also consumer behaviors that counteract the way B2C retailers typically do business. Baby Boomers may be logging onto Facebook in masses these days, but that migration in no way corrupts GenY’s global domination in the world of social media. The Millennials are addicted to sharing information, whether it’s a high school rumor or an uprising in Egypt. Due to the massive debt and environmental degradation left to us by previous generations, we GenYers are living, and shopping, in different ways. Of course, some of us are still purchasing the designer goods seen on Sex & the City, but it’s no coincidence that hundreds of eCommerce retailers are popping up, specifically catering to sample sales, subscription models, heavily discounted products and daily deals. Those eCommerce enterprises market heavily using social media and distinguish themselves by customer experience and product niche. Millennials live with a Smartphone permanently attached to their hands and are therefore virtually online at all times. We watch our TV shows online and stream movies and music for free, removing the opportunity for companies to market heavily through commercials. Retailers today have to understand this new way of life in order to properly market and cater to the Generation Y.
There is, of course, a positive element to this social media trend. Because GenYers are often documenting every purchase with a Tweet, Instagram photo or Facebook post, there’s a lot of usable market data out in the world. There are more and more sites dedicated to reviewing products and enterprises, where consumers can share their experiences, for better or worse. Engaging with customers via social media provides an easy platform for enterprises to better understand their market and adapt business strategies for higher profit yield. I’m not preaching to disregard all markets except the Millennials, but it’s clearly an opportunity, especially as we increasingly share these online forums and our findings with our parents. Bottom line: to avoid being Darwin’ed out of today’s B2C market jungle, you have to connect with your growing market base and reconnect with your legacy consumers. Not only will you improve the overall life cycle of your customer, but you will also gain incredibly useful data to better optimize your business strategies. And who doesn’t an entertaining social media campaign?
Please post your praise, disagreement, comments, favorite social media campaigns, etc. below and check out Loyalty World Canada and Big Data World Canada to learn more about harnessing different aspects of social media to develop insights about your consumer base.