Moving Target

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

It was about four years ago when we started talking about Gen Y as a demographic to market to. We’ve created a program to appeal to the age ranges between…wait, click was that 16 to 29. No, more about 14 to 32. *thinks* 18 to 28?

There are three large problems I am witnessing when it comes to addressing our Gen Y members, try and until we clear these hurdles, our results are going to be muddy at best.

  1. We need a clear, specific standard by which we define Gen Y.
  2. Gen Y is a demographic of people born between a date range, not just a range of ages.
  3. Those at the mid to upper range of ages cannot and should absolutely not be marketed to the same way as the younger members of that group.

1. If we are constantly changing what we call Gen Y, we can’t nail down the right marketing. This should not be nebulous and moving. Truth is…we need to stop calling it “marketing to Gen Y” and start calling it “Marketing to young adults who are getting into college and the job market, all the way to getting married and having a family.”  There is nothing wrong with that. It would probably be a lot easier to manage the program if it always dealt with members between the ages of 18 and 28. Then let’s make that decision and run with it.

2. The alternative is to evolve the plan so that we are going after a market that is growing up and changing. Now there’s a concept to sink your teeth into. There’s been so much studied about Gen Y and their habits, but how are we changing how we address their needs as they age? When we started, we had the idea of introducing the program to kids as young as 14.  Today, those same members are now 18. Those that are 14…they are a new generation.

3. What appeals to a member who is looking at graduating high school is not the same things that will appeal to them in 4 or 5 years when they graduate college.  If they even get to or through college. Not everyone gets that opportunity. How can we market to a high school graduate and still make the person buying their first house and planning a family feel like we understand them too?

So can we have a canned program that will appeal to everyone at the same time?  I think we need to segment the program and start looking at a whole lifestyle approach to serving our member’s needs. As marketers, we need to juggle marketing to specific age groups -and- understanding the generational differences as they move from one group to the next.


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