(Sydney Morning Herald)
They know what they want and they want it now, but above all, they have great purchasing power. So how can your business reach the Gen Y market?
The marketing secrets to unlocking the Gen Y demographic have been uncovered in a study by e-commerce platform Bigcommerce and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Bigcommerce senior director of communications Kristina Kennedy says the study of more than 100 small businesses and 250 people aged between 18 and 25 found some Gen Y stereotypes to be true.
“What we found with our research is the myth about Gen Y being impatient is really true,” she says.
“They are self-problem solvers and they to solve problems long before they call on a company for help.”
Take in these tips on how to stay one step ahead of Gen Y:
Be engaged on social media
It’s no surprise that Gen Ys are heavily invested in social media. The study found 95 per cent of small businesses were using Facebook to promote new products or educate new customers.
But simply having a social media presence doesn’t guarantee Gen Y sales. The study revealed only 5 per cent of Gen Y respondents said their purchase decisions were impacted by seeing a company on social media.
Pay attention to ratings and reviews
Perhaps the most important key to unlocking the Gen Y sector is to pay close attention to online ratings and reviews, says Kennedy.
The majority of Gen Ys said they use review sites before making a purchase, yet only 42 per cent of small business owners ever check online reviews.
“I think the number one thing that small businesses should do is care about their ratings and reviews,” Kennedy says.
“And if they’re not out there, find a way.”
Despite less than 20 per cent of small businesses saying they were unable to respond to customers within an hour, this is a priority for Gen Ys. The study revealed 70 per cent valued responsive support, which they say greatly impacts their level of trust in a business.
“Under promise and over deliver,” Kennedy says.
Use rewards and coupons
Although half of all businesses surveyed use rewards such as coupons or offers, the majority are not leveraging these well enough to create repeat purchases.
“Rewards drive loyalty and Gen Ys actually like using rewards,” Kennedy says.
“And the good news is once you’ve got them, they’re very loyal.”
Gen Y entrepreneur Sarah Timmerman markets to her own demographic through her online fashion store Beginning Boutique.
Timmerman was 21 when she started the boutique and six years later, she now employs 24 staff.
She says being part of Gen Y gives her a valuable insight into what her customers want.
“I don’t understand where the bad reputation comes from – Gen Y have got the reputation of being demanding, but I feel older people can be just as demanding,” she says.
Timmerman, who was last year named a Queensland finalist for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, says her fellow Gen Ys rate honesty very highly.
“One of the biggest don’ts is to lie to Gen Y,” she says.
“If you’re not genuine at any point they will see through it. Because they are using social media so hard and fast, they pick up on any mistakes and faults.
“So if you make a mistake, say sorry and try to make it better.”
With between 8 and 15 per cent of his demographic in Gen Y, 124 Shoes does not specifically target Gen Y. But co-owner Anthony Barbieri says he understands what does and doesn’t work with Gen Y.
“Gen Ys like to engage in group discussions and share their thoughts,” he says.
“Out of this comes the awareness of what’s trending and hot. As more people purchase from us they have a high tendency to share their much-loved acquisitions via any one of the social media platforms.
“It’s here that we have noticed foot traffic and online inquiries from these social media posts.”
Communicating with Gen Y customers through social media is much better than traditional sales methods, Barbieri says.
“The hard sale doesn’t work,” he says.
“We see all elements of social media as the way forward, therefore it’s a strong element of our marketing mix that we embrace and unitise.
“We’ve also started to engage with bloggers that have a strong Gen Y following.”