Engaging the younger generation

Published 21 April 2015

Surprisingly the younger generation (often labelled as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, or plain 18-29 year olds) have a preference in the way want interact with brands, and it’s not necessarily how marketers think.

I recently overheard a marketing exec, who clearly thought he had his finger on the pulse, state: “If you want to engage younger people, move all your budget into social media and mobile advertising. That’s where the action is.”

Not something to endorse. Mobile is increasingly important but should be considered at a strategic level. Brands need to consider the marketing mix and create the right framework to drive value. Also consider the risk.

For the younger generation a mobile is their primary communication, information and social device. It is therefore logical as the natural environment for marketers now focus their efforts, time and budget. Mobile and social targeting will play an increasingly important role.

Social activity commands a huge amount of time, what seems like every waking moment. The challenge for marketers is to try to grab a moment of time, a little bit of attention.

Targeting people on a mobile can be incredibly intrusive. It is a very personal environment. As many marketers have discovered, to their cost, there is usually a great disdain for brands who don’t deliver value or authenticity.

Imagine sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends having a great meal. A complete stranger walks over to the table, interrupts and tries to sell you something. Most people would not be impressed. This is the reality of what many brands are doing. Their interruptions are often distracting and unwelcome.

No one has ever received an unsolicited text message and wanted to thank the sender, marketing calls are very rarely welcomed. It is a very personal device, very rarely shared. A social network is no different. People use social networks for pleasure, to interact with friends and share experiences.

SO WHAT SHOULD BRANDS BE DOING? Consider what people are doing and how they use the device. The mobile has a number of core elements of connectivity: voice, messaging, email and internet. All could be potentially relevant.

Leveraging a social environment can be valuable to a brand, but only when used in the right way and in the right mix.