Future Relevance: Will They Still Find You Tomorrow?

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How viable is your organization in the future? Do you know whom you should be speaking to now in order to succeed down the road? The Baby Boomers time has passed and we are faced with the most technically savvy, socially responsible generation to ever walk the planet and they do not look at their world with Baby Boomer eyes.

According to the US Census, Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1990) will outnumber both Generation X and the Baby Boomers combined. If you are not preparing your marketing and products to engage this generation now then you will certainly have no future relevance when they swing into full power. To put it quite frankly, your business will not survive their expectations.

This generation’s media habits and culture call for a transformation of marketing, advertising and product development practices. If you are counting on your organization being relevant in the future you must learn how and where to speak to them or you will quickly find your marketing investments washed and your sales force out of an audience.

Generation Y is not just an age range, it’s a mindset developed out of growing up with technology and generations of marketing hype and false promises. Seeing where their parents went wrong, the bust of the dot com era, and companies such as Enron swindle millions; this generation seeks authenticity, relevance and a conscience. Speaking to this generation is not about using trendy words or cool graphics in your branding efforts, they can see right through those tactics. It is about how you go about reaching them, where you speak to them and the part that makes most brand managers shiver, brands they have a hand in building.

Not your mother’s media. We are just seeing this generation enter the realms of their own decision-making and it does not look like their parents mix of media and communications is going to be applicable. Relying on traditional media to get the word out about your product or service? Perhaps you have an ad on several popular television channels, a couple of clever radio ads and a website. For the most part, this TiVo® hip, XM Radio, iPod loving generation will miss your broadcast ads and will never hear your radio commercials. Quite simply there is no one source for their information and if you do not address this then you simply do not exist.

So what can be done? Think experience. They can be reached and they can become loyal followers of your brand, offering up more brand loyalty than many ever thought possible. Generation Y is plugged in. Interactive experiences, customization and fun events shared with peers are just the tip of what promises to be interesting times. As this generation develops into it’s full decision making force we will all have to think more about where this audience spends there time and unique ways in which you can approach them in a more genuine environment.

Make it real and make it mine. The mindset of Gen Y is that they want to get back to what is real. Real products that deliver real benefits and genuine experiences that enrich their cultural and social lives. We can safely say that we are all tired of false promises and over the top marketing hype, but it is even tougher to market to generation who doesn’t want to hear your song and dance about how great your product is or how they should buy it because it is cool.

Some brands have already caught on to this and began a return to their roots. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is considered the only choice when seeking out a beer that has not “sold out”. With no advertising and very little online support this brand has emerged as genuine and the top choice among the younger (legal) beer consumers. Jones soda is another that took its packaging and product to the Generation Y masses and even allows them to submit photos for inclusion on the packaging itself. Here we have a brand built by those who consume it. Does it work? Jones soda is now ranked the third largest supplier of sodas and colas; all of this in a market the soda manufacturer was advised to never enter.

Many organizations have already realized the importance of adapting to this latest mindset and have already put their plans into motion. After all, these are our namesakes, the ones that will be taking over the world in a few short years if they haven’t already started. The good news is that it is never too late to get moving on the new wave of business. The worst thing you can do is sit idly by and watch the world as it rotates past your offerings. Sticking your head in the sand and waiting it out is not a mistake many will be able to afford.

This generation is changing the way we brand and market our businesses, services and product offerings. You can either start talking their language through their means of promoting your offerings or you can sit in your office and run the numbers on what the future of your business will be like without them. Want to be relevant in the future? You had better start the conversation now.

Laura Denman is the Strategic Business Director for XO Create! the design consultancy providing expertise in creative strategies for the youth market. XO Create! positions products and services in the hearts and minds of today's generation and tomorrow's.

You can contact Laura at 678.319.4242 or by mailing XO Create! 1320 Union Hill Industrial Court, Suite C, Alpharetta, GA. 30004


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