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A More In-Depth Look at Generation Y

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generation Y for dummies, yo


This week, I wrote about Generation Y and created quite a bit of uproar in the comments section (which you will have to read in order to make sense of today’s article). Benn and I wrote the below article as a comment, but it organically snowballed into the article that you see before you. Comments are now closed at the previous post, so please let us hear your voice in the comments here.

A thesis IS a generalization

Bob, you’re right– I know it feels like we’re making broad generalizations (and we are), but hear us out. I wrote a 100 page senior thesis in college (yes, it was after the millenium) and had to defend it before a panel. The subject was African fiction and before that course, I had no insight into African fiction, language, or culture. After slaving for a year over this paper, my thesis was that despite glorified accounts of Shaka’s reign of the Zulu nation, he was actually a blood-thirsty killer, not a heroic leader who banded small nations against the large. This stance was not popular and contradicted the rosy depictions of the leader many of my classmates chose to take. I was the only student to have ever received an A in his class he had been teaching since like 1800. How did I achieve this? I thought differently, I examined all sides, and I made the generalization that Shaka was bad. Sure, he accomplished great things during his short reign as a “diplomat” but many people died gruesome deaths at his hands, so I generalized that he was not a good person. The point is that any thesis has to be based on a generalization, a broad hypothesis and yes, supported by factual evidence.

Generation Y still deserves great service

What is exciting to me about your comment is that you proved my thesis that GenY is ushering in an era of egocentrism- your client needed coddling, needed to be made to feel special, and needed you to connect the dots for him. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a valuable human being, that he isn’t actually smart/educated, or that he doesn’t deserve excellent customer service despite any baggage he brought to the table.

Hundreds of case studies prove my point

So where is my proof? I’m so glad you asked, Bob! 🙂 First, as I’ve said before, I’m a member of Generation Y. That means that not only am I basing my thesis on every day of my own life as a case study (as Benn said, I’m guilty of much of what I’ve posited above), I have many many friends my age that I associate with- people I went to high school and college with. Let’s just call my group of friends hundreds of independent case studies, shall we? Observing and interacting with hundreds of people my age including myself leads me to the conclusions I’ve outlined in my article.

Median ages differ between cities

Secondly, I think that in our business, we interact with a different demographic than you do. Although San Diego is a super hip place to live, the median age is 38 which is Generation X, not Generation Y. Austin’s median age is only 30. Added to the population are the University of Texas’ undocumented (meaning their permanent residency is not typically in Travis County) residents at roughly 50,000 students, St. Edward’s University (5,000 students), Hutson-Tillotson (600 students), Condordia University (2,000 students) and Southwestern University (1,300 students), totaling nearly 59,000 people who are living here, and often use real estate professionals for their housing. Because of this influx population, it’s my opinion that the actual median age of residents in Austin that real estate professionals interact with is lower than 30 making it more likely than not that when practicing ANY business in Austin, you’ll be dealing with Generation Y clients.

In previous comments, Benn was not attacking you, rather retooling the conversation to avoid the re-arguments about how stupid realtors are or about commission rebates. This was always intended to be an article about how real estate professionals (and all marketers for that matter) compete by getting to know more about the demographic they’re interacting with and will continue to interact with in the future.

Generation Y has been studied extensively

I wish I could make a zip file of every Agent Genius article written and just *poof* have it in your brain in a matter of seconds so you could see that we’ve been studying this new Generation since the dawn of our professional careers, one of which (Benn’s) is over 15 years in public relations. A good example of our studies is an article Benn wrote last June that addresses understanding GenY so marketers don’t miss out on the opportunity to work with that demographic:

“The perception is that they have no knowledge, no money and no focus- the way maybe you were when you were 20-something. The reality is, this modernized post teen makes more money than our parents did at a much younger age, and they’re investing. They’re asking great questions about the market and they just want validation of their knowledge.”

Bob, you noted that you simply responded to your client’s need for validation (again, proving my point) as you agreed with him that other agents are stupid and acknowledged how much you two are alike- you’re already courting the GenY demographic. In order for marketers to more fully understand GenY, there have been extremely detailed studies completed about GenY media consumption and the drastic trends toward Internet use over other media instead of news outlets, and about GenY’s use of social media. At the end of the page linked above, you will find the most concise summary of how to understand GenY that I’ve ever seen.

The Internet is changing everything

Also written this week on Agent Genius was an article about NAR that addressed the use of social media, noting from Wikipedia that “social media uses the “wisdom of crowds” to connect information in a collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies such as blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, group creation and voice over IP, to name a few…”

All that said, the majority of our business is now GenY creating even *more* case studies under the belt to base the thesis on.

GenY parents can’t see past their own rhetoric

Third, (and I am opining here) when you are a parent of the GenY generation (or old enough to have a GenY kiddo), it is hard to be taken out of the equation. My friends’ parents (you know, the ones who allowed viewing rated R movies at age 12, never gave curfews, gave exorbitant allowances without chores or tasks associated and never punishing slacking/drinking/backtalk) could never understand my article because they are the source of the problem I’m addressing. There, I said it. If someone spent the last 20 years telling someone “you’re special no matter what” and “don’t worry about working hard, you’ll be fine because the world owes you something because you’re from my loins and let’s watch Barney, you’re special,” it is impossible to recognize the symptoms of the disease they’ve caused.

GenY is going to HELL

But wait, is GenY going to hell, Lani? No!!! I’ve already pointed to the generous nature of GenY- literally everyone I know that is my age volunteers their time AND gives to charity without question; it’s normal. GenY, as we speak, is creating “charity” applications for Facebook and telling their friends about their Habitat for Humanity project this weekend- Kiva is a great example at the forefront of this generous GenY movement! Even Benn’s article last June noted that 3 GenY clients led to $1 million in sales in 30 days- there’s no underestimating GenY in our camp.

GenY is extremely intelligent which is why we are researchers. We know that we need to know *something* but the Internet is a blessing and a curse for reasons we’ve overdigested already (reach back to the “connect the dots” point of clients being overwhelmed). GenY is innovative- the bar is now set so high by 19 year olds that at age 26, I feel old and behind, hoping the younger of my generation will let me keep up! No matter the reason, GenY has huge dreams and is extremely ambitious.

The bottom line

Our mission here at Agent Genius is *not* to beat up on and call other Realtors stupid; many haven’t figured out yet why clients are falling off, callers are hanging up on them, breaking contracts, demanding free information, and are second guessing agents at every turn. We’re here trying to offer solutions, and why I think that Realtors could take a page from Redfin.

The takeaway is that GenY has a lot of baggage making us self-important, but watch out world- we’re here to make big changes because we’ve been empowered. In the meantime, this empowered feeling will make the jobs of people offering products and services complicated as we all finish scrambling to figure out Generation X while Generation Y is already influencing Generation Z.


Co-written, researched and opined by: Benn Rosales. If you have not read this and the previous article in their entirety, there is no need for you to comment.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Todd Carpenter

    February 2, 2008 at 2:37 am

    You know, there’s like 100,000 GenY’ers serving our nation in Iraq. I only know three of them, but they fit your mold like a camel fits in an ice cream cone. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I think your perception is influenced just as much by the kind of young adults you’ll might find in a college town, as the fact that they are a certain age.

    When I broke into sales, the first thing I learned was to judge people one by one. Many people do fit into general physiological profiles. But the identifiers are not specific to age, or race, or sex. With a bit of experience, a good salesperson can identify these profiles, and sometimes leverage it to their advantage. But in my opinion, establishing a preconceived notion of how a client will want to be treated based predominantly on their age, is flat out bad advice.

  2. Chris Lengquist

    February 2, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Okay, here I go. But first, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m 42. Some studies say I’m at the end of the Boomers. Some say I’m at the beginning of the X’ers. I prefer to associate myself with X.

    To me, Boomers were the first American generation to make changes in how societ perceived itself and did business. Some was good, much was self-indulgent. But over time, by in large, those changes were neutralized or lessened because of the ongoing pressure of life. Nobody proclaimed they were going to change things more than the Boomers. And while they have been in charge of society for much of the last quarter century the changes they’ve made, at least politically, haven’t been nearly as earth shaking as they proclaimed they would be.

    Now socially, that’s another story. Acceptance of other cultures is an area that I think the Boomers excelled in. As a society in whole we still fall short of where we could be, however. Boomers brought with them the sexual revolution. I would ask, was this good?

    Why do I say all of that? Because I think Y will follow a similar pattern. These were the kids brought up with 153 channels, the internet and file sharing. When you are 18-22 lifting someone else’s intellectual property doesn’t seem like any big deal. But allow time to wear on this generation, add a few pounds, a spouse and 2 kids and I believe some of that bravado may begin to lessen.

    You can think the world owes you something. And you can think you are going to change it. But life has a way of teaching you differently.

    I love the Y spirit. The energy and enthusiasm. Nothing great ever got accomplished by keeping the status quo. Let’s hope the changes Y makes will be productive. I believe, over time, they will. The Y’s I work with are more knowlegable than I was at that age and do make more money. But they still need guidance and they are smart enough to seek it out.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    February 2, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Feeling empowered and holding actual knowledge often are two very different things. Let’s forget generations for a second and focus on the idea of real estate information on the web. There’s no end to real estate search sites … seems like there’s a new one every three days. None of them, however, contain complete information. Searching five sites with incomplete information does not complete information make.

    > Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start, and may contain false or debatable information.

    My Encyclopedia Britannica never had such a disclaimer.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    February 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    > You can think the world owes you something. And you can think you are going to change it. But life has a way of teaching you differently.

    I think you can make this argument for every generation going back to the cavemen.

  5. Mariana

    February 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    “My generation is better than your generation. Nanner Nanner Boo Boo.”

    That seems to always be the consensus. And that is just fine, but when we are in a working world, like Real Estate, is is completely inappropriate to leak your internal dialougue to your “other” generation clients. IMHO.

    I am a Generation X through and through. I am severly independent, sarcastic, sceptical, aloof and stand-offish. I get great joy in finding humor in really, really, stupid-yet-psuedo-intellectual obscure stuff – and sometimes I find even MORE enjoyment knowing that I am the only one who sees something as funny.

    I was a latchkey kid who played pac-man at my neighbors house. I was raised by a single mother who worked 2 jobs and my friend’s parents were crank-heads. One day I had a perm with bangs, peg-legged jeans and a Trapper Keeper and the next day I had jet-black hair, a flannel shirt, Doc Martins and a cigarette. (I have since lost the black hair and cigarette…)

    My point is that we can only be what we are … and we must understand that everyone else can only be what THEY are. We just need to figure out how to make it work with WHOMEVER we are dealing with.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    February 2, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Couldn’t say it better, Mariana … from what it’s worth from a 38-year-old working mostly in retirement communities these days.

  7. Bob in San Diego

    February 2, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    I honestly didn’t expect the type of responses I got from you and Benn. They are based on a few inaccurate assumptions and you put words in my mouth.

    Bob, you noted that you simply responded to your client’s need for validation (again, proving my point) as you agreed with him that other agents are stupid and acknowledged how much you two are alike

    No I didn’t. I told you his expressed opinion and added parenthetically that I agreed with it. What occurred after that was revisionist history, not topic re-tooling. Benn did take a personal shot and you represented it above in a wholly inaccurate way.

    The point is that any thesis has to be based on a generalization, a broad hypothesis and yes, supported by factual evidence.

    My opinion about many agents in this business is no different than your thesis. It isn’t popular. They got credit for some great sales, and many people have died gruesome financial deaths at their hands. Also supported by a boatload of factual evidence.

    your client needed coddling, needed to be made to feel special, and needed you to connect the dots for him.

    That line reminded me why reading a blog while drinking coffee isn’t always a good thing. Coddling and connecting the dots are part of the job description, regardless of the generation. I’m not the patronizing type, and the only client I’ve had that needed to be made to feel special, I referred to a female buyer agent. I wanted to stay married.

    As noted, I have a problem with generalities that encompass a population almost 80 million strong, so I took on the Redfin aspect of the initial post. I don’t believe Redfin is marketing to ANY generation with any intellectual integrity. They are playing one side against the other. Their appeal to GenY et al is as the anti-agent, which they are not. Because it is all about the money, commissions are at the heart of any discussion that deals with Redfin. You applaud Redfin – I think many GenY tend to quietly mock it, pointing to it as proof that most agents are not worth what they bring to the table. Why buy the milk when the cow will pay you.

    It is the only brokerage I know that couldn’t start from scratch, and, without VC scratch, build something out of nothing like two of the giants that GenY does admire – Facebook and Myspace.

  8. Lani Anglin

    February 3, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Bob, you’re entitled to your opinion and no one’s attacking you here- whatever was said was not meant to be a cheap shot. You provoked a deeper response that was deserving of more than a comment (as a PS: this article was already in the works, we simply retailored it to answer to your comment).

    Feel free to browse the demographic studies we’ve linked to which might give you further insight into what we’re talking about.

  9. April Groves

    February 3, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Just wanted to put money on the fact that Mariana and I are probably the same age and more than likely separated at birth.

  10. JJ

    February 4, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    “It is the only brokerage I know that couldn’t start from scratch, and, without VC scratch, build something out of nothing like two of the giants that GenY does admire – Facebook and Myspace.”

    Uhhh, Bob, I don’t know where you’re getting your info, but both of those companies were built with LOTS of VC scratch. Orders of magnitude more than Redfin has attracted.

    By the way, I don’t think that GenY cares whether a company used VC money to scale out.

  11. Bob in San Diego

    February 5, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Facebook was started without VC money at Harvard, restricted to students at Harvard College before it expanded to include MIT and others. It got its VC influx later.

    MySpace started in 1998 and was an internal project of eUniverse. No VC money at start up.

  12. Janelle

    February 5, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Glenn wears my jacket better than I do.

  13. Benn Rosales

    February 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Janelle, I have to admit, I would love to have that jacket tonight down on 6th for the Fat Tuesday Celebrations here in Austin- it is pretty fly in a big pimpin sorta way.

    [See the Jacket here]

  14. Kim in Pensacola Florida

    July 21, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Hi Lani,

    You are right. We have to understand the clients we are selling to. Like it or not Gen Y is what it is and their sales produce commission. So why not just deal with it.

  15. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    July 21, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Kim, according to recent reports, the number of Gen Y buyers will surpass Baby Boomers by 2012 and current Gen Y spending power is estimated around $361 BILLION dollars, so regardless of a positive or negative attitude toward any generation, the numbers *make* them relevant.

    Thanks for stopping by, Kim! You have a great great point! 🙂

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Business Marketing

TINA.org is helping the FTC crack down on Kardashian-esque influencers

(MARKETING NEWS) The Kardashians are just five of the seemingly endless amounts of influencers companies are using for marketing but TINA.org is over their tactics.

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A brand could find no better influencers than the Kardashians – the family who proved that you can get famous just for, well, being famous. Each Kardashian sister has an astronomical number of followers, making them obvious trendsetters.

That’s why brands pay the Kardashian sisters – Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie — tens of thousands of dollars a pop to post pictures of themselves on social media using their products.

Perhaps you find it hard to believe that the Kardashians stop by Popeye’s Chicken to grab a to-go meal before boarding their private jet. Regardless, the Kardashians, and the brands who pay them to pump their products, would prefer that you believe that these endorsements reflect the Kardashian’s actual preferences, rather than the paychecks they receive for posting them.

The Kardashians have been attempting to make their endorsements seem more “authentic” by totally disregarding Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules that require influencers to disclose when their posts are paid endorsements.

In August of 2016, Truth in Advertising (TINA.org) filed a complaint about the Kardashians to the FTC, saying that the (in)famous sisters had “failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material connections to brands or the fact that the posts were paid ads, as required by federal law.”

After receiving a finger-wagging from the FTC, the Kardashian sisters corrected less than half of the posts, generally by adding #ad to the post. The remaining posts, according to a recent TINA.org follow-up investigation, either have not been edited at all, or contain “insufficient disclosures.”

For example, some posts now read #sp to indicated “sponsored” – as if anyone knows that reference. In another tactic that also got Warner Brothers and YouTube influencer PewDiePie in trouble with the FTC, the Kardashians are posting their disclosure information at the bottom of a long post so that users will only see it if they click “see more.”

The Kardashians have also been posting disclosures, but only days after the original post. Considering that the vast majority of viewers comment on or like posts within the first ten hours after it’s published, most of them will never see the disclosure when it’s tacked on days later.

Some of the “repeat offender” brands, who came up both in last year’s complaint and in the recent review, include Puma, Manuka Doctor, Jet Lux, Fit Tea, and Sugar Bear Hair. This time around, the Kardashians have also failed to disclose sponsorship on posts promoting Adidas, Lyft, Diff Eyewear, and Alexander Wang.

TINA.org found over 200 posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat where products are promoted without the Kardashians letting on that their raking in big bucks in exchange. The organization has notified the Kardashians, the brands they represent, and the FTC.

The FTC has recently been cracking down on deceptive influencer marketing, targeting not only the brands, but the influencers themselves.

In April, the FTC sent letters to 46 social media stars reminding them of their legal obligations to disclose, and followed up with 21 letters in September warning the influencers that they had until the end of the month to disclose sponsorships, or face legal consequences.

“The Kardashian/Jenner sisters are masterful marketers who are making millions of dollars from companies willing to turn a blind eye to the women’s misleading and deceptive social media marketing practices,” says TINA.org’s Executive Director Bonnie Patten. “It’s time the Kardashians were held accountable for their misdeeds.”

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Business Marketing

Dove dropped the olive branch with new ad campaign

(MARKETING NEWS) With any ad campaign there will be misses but take a note from Dove’s playbook and learn how to not repeat mistakes.

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Dove’s latest Facebook ad really hit the mark for whitewashing in advertising. The ad, since removed, essentially implied their soap could turn a black woman into a clean white woman.

In a three-second video on the company’s Facebook page, three women transformed into the next when they removed their shirts. The first transition caused an uproar: a woman of color lifting a brown top over her head to reveal a different woman, who is very, very white.

Although the white woman then lifts her shirt to reveal another woman with darker hair and a darker skin tone, the initial transformation is problematic in its implications of whiteness as cleanliness.

Dove has since removed the ad and issued an apology, stating in a tweet “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

Wait, haven’t we been here before? At this point you’d think skin care companies would have realized a little more delicacy is required when rolling out ad campaigns. Remember Nivea’s disastrous, short-lived “White is Purity” mishap? How about Dove’s other blunder in their 2011 VisibleCare ad?

These featured another series of three women standing in front of close-ups of skin, with the darker skinned woman in front of the “before” label, and the woman with the lightest skin by the “after” picture. Although Dove didn’t intend to imply white skin is cleaner, oops, that’s what happened anyways.

While Dove has gotten many things right in terms of inclusivity and featuring models of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, there have also been several instances of intentional racist missteps. Let’s use this as a teachable moment for handling marketing mishaps.

Whenever an ad campaign offends people, the company’s response can make or break the business. If you find yourself in the midst of a marketing crisis, you can take some mindful steps to manage the situation and begin repairing your public image.

First, acknowledge the problem and issue a genuine apology that gets to the core of what your audience is saying. Dove recognized they upset people, and instead of taking a defensive “sorry you felt offended” stance, took responsibility for their actions. Once an apology is issued, explain the original intent to provide context for the situation.

Dove meant to create an inclusive campaign featuring a diverse cast of women. Lola Ogunyemi, the first model featured in the now controversial shirt ad, has even defended the ad. She stated, “I can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web have been misinterpreted, considering the fact that Dove has faced a backlash in the past for the exact same issue. There is a lack of trust here, and I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage.”

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Business Marketing

Aori helps you pack a punch with AdWords

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Aori is the newest tool designed to help anyone using AdWords to kick more butt.

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Search ad campaign managers constantly wrestle with the best way to organize their keywords into campaigns. Most of these decisions strive to balance the time needed to manage the campaign with efficiency of campaign expenditures.

Take the SKAGs strategy, for example. The SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Group) system is setup to trigger a unique ad for every single keyword by placing each keyword in its own group.

There’s lots of literature touting the benefits of the SKAG system. Generally, the hyper-specific match between ads and keywords improves click-through rates.

This leads to higher quality scores, which leads to lower costs for click, which leads to lower costs per conversion. The tradeoff with this system is the setup. You could be looking at hundreds of keyword groups to set up and maintain, and that’s a lot of work for a small business or startup.

This is where Aori comes in.

Their system helps to automate the process of setting up a SKAG system for your AdWords campaigns.

According to the website, the tool’s primary function is to automate keyword generation. Users enter a set of “root keywords” and common keyword extensions, and Aori will automatically generate all possible combinations of those keywords for your campaigns.

Additionally, through Aori, users can create ad templates using a “dynamic keyword insertion tool,” to enable you to utilize the strongest ad copy across multiple phrases.

In what is the least clear value point of the whole pitch, Aori also uses what they call a “unique bid-optimization algorithm.”

There is almost no detail to be found on how the algorithm works. If the tool handles all bid management for you, this could be a handy tool for PPC novices who are less familiar with the process and lack the time to learn it.

Aori appears to run cheaper than the others we know of, but that may be due to the level of automation available. For example, Aori requires the user to feed it keyword inputs, both root and extension words.

It’s also important to understand where a SKAG system can and can’t work. It is likely a better system for smaller campaigns where ad testing wouldn’t yield statistically meaningful results.

Because every keyword group targets one phrase, you can’t readily say that improvements in ad copy will translate to other campaigns.

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