There's great debate about the power of Gen Y. Today, members of Gen Y are coming of age; the first batch has successfully made it through college while their younger counterparts are finishing up high school. Sometimes referred to as millennials, Gen Yers represent a generation in transition; a group of people who haven't quite figured everything out yet. But if one thing's for sure, these next gen up-and-comers are poised to revolutionize the relationship between brand marketing, social media and technology.
A recent study conducted by the Stern School of Business at NYU examined how Gen Y uses social media to interact with prestige brands. Almost two-thirds of respondents labeled themselves "brand conscious", able to single out luxury brands like Apple, Chanel and BMW.
The cause for this level of brand consciousness? A combination of elevated Internet usage (most of Gen Y can't remember life without online access) and social media presence. Everyday brands like Starbucks, Zappos and Dell have made social media outreach part of their big business plan, amping up their exposure to the Gen Yers who are tuned into multiple channels.
By catching the eye of Gen Y, these brands are in the position to gain customers for life. Take for example the famed Burger King "Sacrifice" Facebook app, where users ditched 10 friends in exchange for a free Whopper. Building relationships with Gen Yers now means the brand has years to gain their trust as pockets deepen. So, 10 years from now when Laura gets her first promotion, she might go straight to the BMW dealership.
Carefully planned social media marketing is already making a measureable impact on impressionable Gen Yers. The Stern study shows that more than 20% of Gen Y considers blogs as one of their top sources for information on prestige brands while an equal number follow similar brands on Facebook.
The surefire way to market to millennials? Take a cue from Pepsi and Refresh Everything. To make a lasting impact on savvy Gen Yers, ride the social media wave and expand your presence on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere. And keep looking out. As Yoda said, "Always in motion is the future," and the next big Internet opportunity is coming soon.