The mysterious Generation Y
Generation Y, also known as Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995, and already outnumber Baby Boomers and out power their parents in spending power, so marketers are salivating over how to reach this generation who values the opinions of strangers online equally to the opinions of their friends and family1.
24/7 Wall St. created a list of products that the “Facebook Generation” (aka GenY, aka Millennials) would not be buying in the future, but do Millennials agree?
Millennials will not use email in the future
Although Google and Microsoft are likely to disagree, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg called email “too formal,” which is the basis of 24/7’s argument that Millennials will not use email for much longer, pointing to email use falling for the 12-17 demographic and rising for people over 55.
The idea that email is disappearing is ludicrous, in fact, email use is on the rise across the board as spam filters are finally working 20 years later, and we all get as much spam on social networks as we do in our email inbox. Zuckerberg has never lived in a cubicle, so his word is not final on this matter, and considering 12 to 17 year olds as the benchmark for email use is misguided, as they are not yet in the professional world. What is accurate, however, is that for personal use, it is not likely any Millennial will pay for email, so we can meet 24/7 half way on this one.
Generation Y won’t buy beer
According to 24/7, there is a shift in beer consumption, and after traditional beer brewers like Budweiser having relied on men in their 20s are watching their core demographic slip away to lite brands. Budweiser research reveals that 40 percent of young people today have never tried regular beer, which was 10 percent in 1988.
This is a really complicated product for a number of reasons, but is worth looking at for other industries to learn about the Millennial generation. 24/7 is right in that the traditional beers are being ditched for light beers, but moreover, the generation is more open to wine and mixed drinks, as the generation has much fuzzier gender boundaries than former generations – it’s not butch for a girl to drink a beer, and it’s not feminine for a guy to order a mixed drink.
We’ve come a long way since the Mad Men era of scotch and masochism, and most marketers are highly ignoring the changing gender roles. It’s okay for a man to be the stay at home parent in the Millennial generation, it’s okay for a woman to be a CEO, and sexuality is blurred as well. These all play a role in purchase decisions as men and women are less concerned with what a product choice says about their gender or sexuality.
Newspapers are on the way out
People under 30 don’t read newspapers now, and media companies are scrambling to figure out their next move – 24/7 is right on with this projection. Millennials are mobile, and they are multi-taskers. Reading a newspaper requires one to sit still and look at the same thing for an extended period, which is not a common behavior for Millennials when it comes to media consumption.
Books are still in use for this generation, but the next will not likely even touch print. The web opens so many doors and allows information to flow freely, so although newspapers in print will not reach Millennials, digital news does, and boy, does this generation consume a lot of that, whether it is niche news or celebrity news.
No more cars?
This one surprised us a bit, as 24/7 says less than half of all Americans 19 and under had a license in 2008, and car sales have struggled to reach the younger demographics.
Why is this? In my opinion, there are four reasons. First, after high school, most Millennials do not see see cars as a status symbol as previous generations did. Secondly, laws have changed dramatically for this generation, many of whom were not legally allowed to get a license at 16, so that “sweet 16” mentality is shifting, so the importance placed on that car is different now. Third, although frequently accused of being “slacktivists,” Millennials volunteer more hours and give more money to environmental causes than any generation in history, grew up around recycling, were told by age 10 that global warming was real and it was our fault. Lastly, cars are becoming less relevant because Millennials are flocking to the city and emphasizing buying homes and condos that have high walkability – it is almost cool with this generation to boast that they “got rid of” their car.
24/7 argues that most 25-29 year olds live in a household with only wireless phones. There is no arguing here – I’ve had a cell phone since I was too young to get one without an adult co-signer, and although I grew up with a phone in my house, by the time I was in college, no one talked on the phone, we all texted or emailed or instant messaged. Dorms and student apartment housing being built now in some cities does not have the wiring for landlines, as developers are discovering that it is a feature most do not use, thus a corner that can be cut.
What is still up for debate is VOIP phones, as most Millennial entrepreneurs that I know have this as their setup so they can have a professional voicemail system or route it to other staff including an assistant. This avoids professional contacts calling their cell phone and getting the “wazzuuuuppppp!!?????” voicemail greeting.
I would add that many Millennials, having grown up with social networks (in my case AOL, ICQ, etc., and in my final year of college, Facebook) divide their personal life from their professional life in a very guarded way, not friending anyone on Facebook that they haven’t met in person and know socially. Keeping a separate phone is something I can see increasing in coming years, but not so that there is a landline, but due to the division of personal and professional as the generation becomes acutely aware of how each impacts the other.
Suck it, cigarettes
Smoking rates among young people have historically exceeded those of the general population. Now that group is dropping the habit quicker than anyone (down 17.6 percent from 2005 to 2010) while it Americans over 65 have increased their smoking by 10.5 percent in the same period.
What businesses need to glean from this particular factoid is that Millennials may eat junk food, but anything that is obviously a health risk is often avoided, even binge drinking which is decreasing as well. I find my generation to be very conscious of being healthy; not necessarily for vanity, but for reasons of health. Think of it this way – a first date in 1980 might entail a 24 year old discussing what car they drive (going back to the car prediction), what high profile job they have, what texture is on their business cards (I kid), while a 24 year old today will chat about what local foods they like, or where they go running in the morning, or how they worry that their shirt took a trillion gallons of pollutants to make. These two cases are obviously an exaggeration, but my point remains.
Dude, you’re not getting a Dell
24/7 notes that Millennials are the only demographic to own more laptops than desktops, and most buy laptops as their first computers. I would add that the rising popularity of tablets will also have an impact on the fact that Millennials are not typically tied to desktops for personal use, but of course, all are bound by what their employer requires of them.
Technology manufacturers will adjust, and already know that mobile is where it’s at. Smartphones did not replace computers as once suspected, as websites and technology did not catch up fast enough, and Millennials are bi-techtual, meaning they usually own more than one device. It is common to own a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, not necessarily by the same manufacturer – not all Mac fans are die-hard, many will own a Macbook Pro and an Android smartphone, so brand loyalty is also in flux.
Television is absolutely on the way out
Although television sets are not at all going away, the viewing habits are rapidly changing, with Millenials between 18 and 24 watch less traditional television than any other demographic and Netflix and Hulu are taking over viewing for this generation. Many do not even have cable, which is an adjustment that carriers will be impacted by, but will likely make up the difference by increasing internet rates, claiming there is no more bandwidth because of the video streaming, so the costs will even out in the long run.
Millennials are not a complex generation, we just grew up with technology, which doesn’t make us more special, smarter or faster than any generation, just different in how we consume products. We care less about status symbols and more about convenience. We care less about being called gay for ordering the wrong drink or wearing the wrong shirt, and we genuinely care about our health after watching the previous generation force airplane seats to widen by however many inches over the decades.
Marketers frequently miss the mark in reaching Millennials, tying to much of their assessments to technology and the impact it has had on the generation, but it is much more sociological than many believe. It has less to do with a stupid iPad and more to do with how we see ourselves and those around us, having had a different type of access to the world via the web. It is important for brands of all size that plan on growing in coming years to understand the relatively dramatic shifts going on right now in consumer behavior, as Millennials are now very powerful buyers in the market.
7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]
(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.
The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:
No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!
Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:
1. Sponsor Local Events
One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.
Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.
2. Let Your Colors Fly
Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.
Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.
3. Social Media
If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.
So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.
4. Host a Giveaway
Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.
Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:
- Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
- These posts should specify the terms, for example:
– In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
– Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
– You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
- Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile
Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!
5. Referral Discounts
Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.
6. Create or Update Your Blog
If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.
You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.
Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.
7. Update Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.
To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.
When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.
Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.
Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!
Yelp listings now show companies’ COVID-19 policies
(BUSINESS) Yelp has updated their settings to allow business owners to make their COVID-19 policies public, so consumers are aware in advance.
Yelp recently added tools to help businesses share their COVID-19 restrictions and policies with consumers, focusing for now on vaccinations. This is the latest in a series of attempts to combat misinformation and illegitimate reviews plaguing the platform.
Yelp has rolled out two new attributes for businesses to add to their profiles last week.
One option, a tag that reads “Proof of vaccination required,” communicates clearly the need to carry one’s vaccination card (or, presumably, wear a face covering) to gain entry. The other – ”Staff fully vaccinated” – speaks for itself.
These attributes stand to increase customer awareness of the circumstances facing them before visiting a business, thereby cutting down on frustrations – at least in theory.
The general public’s dearth in understanding regarding social distancing protocols and business restrictions certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that different states had different responses to COVID-19 – and that’s not even taking into account the microcosmic changes cities found themselves making.
For example, while the state of New York may not require proof of vaccinations to enter restaurants, New York City certainly does.
Rumors are that San Francisco may be implementing similar legislation, positing that other cities may very well go in the same direction.
To compound on this lack of uniform response, small businesses are finding themselves having to make their own policies as the cities around them ease up on restrictions. It isn’t out of the norm for a restaurant staffed by at-risk employees to ask customers to wear masks, so as Delta surges in places with low vaccination rates, it isn’t terribly surprising that those same establishments would ask to see proof of vaccination.
Yelp looks to make this process as transparent as possible with their profile attributes, but they’re aware that there was a general uptick in frustrated customers leaving poor reviews for restaurants that required masking or other social distancing actions.
“Yelp says the practice [of review bombing] has gotten worse in recent months,” reports TechCrunch.
In response, Yelp will be employing both automated and human moderation measures to ensure that businesses aren’t unfairly targeted for their protocols. This is actually something the company did after adding the “Black-owned” attribute (and subsequent identity attributes) last summer as well.
If you’re interested in adding either of the new attributes to your business profile, you can find them on the “Yelp for Business” page.
As the pandemic continues to develop, we may see additional COVID-19 attributes from Yelp.
Society has changed – no one wants help in a store anymore
(CUSTOMER SERVICE) Times are changing in the retail environment: a once customer-service driven experience is evolving into a minimalistic customer service approach.
Once upon a time, good retail management meant good customer service skills – asking customers if they needed assistance, helping them decide what looked best on them, and politely stalking customers to insure a sale was completed.
As technology evolves and become more prevalent and pervasive in our lives, these skills are no longer needed or wanted. A new study suggest that shoppers want to be left alone while browsing in stores, rather than be stalked, questioned, and coaxed into buying items they may not explicitly want due to persistent pressure from sales associates.
An HRC survey found that a whopping 95% of shoppers would prefer to be left completely alone while navigating the retail environment, rather than shopping under a constant barrage of questions: “Can I help you find anything?” “How are you today?” “What brought you in?” and the seemingly endless stream of inquiries, not to mention the sales pressure from those employees working on commission, can simply be too much for consumers looking to relax, browse in peace, or simply get in and out of a store quickly.
While the greater majority of shoppers may prefer to be left alone, this should not come as too much of a surprise, considering how much technology has supplemented the shopping experience. With enhanced apps and self-checkout lines it’s not hard to understand why most shoppers prefer to browse solo.
Smartphones have given us the ability to check prices, order goods, and check stock all without interacting with another human.
For many shoppers, this is an efficient way to save both time and money while shopping. For other shoppers, like myself, smartphones offer another way to shop without triggering my anxiety. Asking for help, or a price is nearly impossible – I’d rather go without an item than have to ask someone for help.
Sounds ridiculous? Believe me, it feels ridiculous too, but nevertheless, having alternative ways to shop without interacting, is a blessing for many people, for a variety of reasons.
What does this mean for stores? It’s time to take another look at your apps and/or mobile presence (and in-store wifi availability). Since customers are shying away from human interaction, is your app allowing people to scan for prices? Can your customers check stock and order things online to be picked up in store? Can customers use your app to enhance their shopping experience in-store? If not, you may lose customers to stores that offer these enhanced apps.
Times are changing.
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