JCK Las Vegas: Marketing to X and Y Generations

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For many years understanding the generations was simple. There were the Baby Boomers and Pepsi’s “Generation Next.” That changed when the Boomers’ babies, known as Generation X and Y, came of marketing age, with their own set of consumer quirks and levels of disposable income. In her seminar “Understanding How to Market to Generation X and Y Consumers,” Laurie Hudson, of Premiere Luxury Brand Group, discussed these budding consumers.

Dexterity with BlackBerries and iPhones allows Gen X and Y to communicate and network much differently from previous generations, and they require different styles of communication. Members of Gen X and Y (often called “Millennials”) have had tremendous exposure to mass media and distrust hype. These groups are also more socially conscious and globally aware.

“This is also the largest, most diverse American-defined group ever,” said Hudson. “They embrace technology and don’t respond well to traditional forms of [print] advertising.”

Gen Y, the largest generation since the Boomers, is often called the “spoiled” or “want it now” generation, Hudson said. But they have 500 times more spending capacity than Boomers in adjusted dollars per age. Gen Y is also fashion obsessed, extremely smart, and good at multi-tasking. Members of Gen Y have tremendous influence on family purchases.

For retailers looking to reach Gen X and Y, Hudson stressed that push marketing is out. “Products are often pulled by consumers rather than pushed by corporations” she noted. 

Hudson offered five ideas to capture the new generations: Offer unique, unusual designs, connect to a good cause, create private label merchandise, create an opportunity for customers to buy items retailing for under $1,000 (or even under $500), and give your customer a reason to buy Hudson mentioned the importance of social networking Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Members of Gen X and Y like to find retail gold mines and share that information through their networks. Getting them to talk about their retail experiences is how to reach them. Hudson suggested customer testimonials. “Get customers involved in telling their story,” she said. “Online videos are a perfect outlet retailers can use to attract Gen X and Y.” Hudson also offered online retailing tips, including emphasizing value, making your Web site easy to navigate, asking better customers to rate you and offer comments, and dealing with criticism immediately.

Hudson mentioned a retailer who held a Dress for Success benefit (the organization helps underprivileged women enter the workforce with business attire donations). The event went viral in social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and thousands of socially conscience Gen X and Y showed up to donate clothes. Beverages and snacks were offered to people donating items to the cause.