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Are we neglecting Generation Y’s channel choices?

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19th Oct 2014
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Generation Y, millennials, generation C…whatever semantics you choose to assign, it’s a fact that the youth age bracket (often referred to as those born 1984 – 2000) is causing a major headache for marketers.  

The issue is how to target people within this bracket, and which channels to focus on. While millennials are more connected and more switched on than ever (The Next Web recently posted statistics that said 58% of Gen-Y use Twitter “all the time”, while 40% visit Facebook more than 10 times a day), the variety and number of devices they use is constantly changing, and their loyalty to brands is slipping.

The Next Web states that 80% of Gen-Y use two mobile devices simultaneously in watching TV, while numerous studies have indicated that millennials are less loyal to brands than any other generation.

McDonald’s global chief brand officer, Steve Easterbrook, infamously referred to the generation as “promiscuous” and that "the millennial generation has a wider range of choices than any generation before them…[which] makes it harder work for all of us to earn the loyalty of the millennial generation."

However, a study from MDS has found that many brands are not focused enough on uncovering which channels of engagement millennials are most likely to use, in which moments.

Surveying 1,500 UK consumers, MDS’s research found that 58.5% of those aged 18-24 say their channel preferences are ignored by more than half of the companies they buy from.

In comparison, those with more disposable income felt satisfied with the channels brands were choosing to market to them through, with just 24.3% of those aged 45-54yrs feeling ignored by the brands they buy from; followed by 21.7% of 55-64 year olds and 22.8% of 65+.

The study also found big discrepancies between how well industry sectors are managing to satisfy consumers’ channel preferences, 58% of consumers said the fashion sector offers the most channel choice and acts responsibly on channel preferences. In comparison, just 29% said the same about the leisure and entertainment sector.  

“Delivering communications via the customer’s preferred channel balance is a complex challenge,” says Yolanda Noble, CEO, MDS. “Media fragmentation means businesses now have an increasing number of ways to communicate with their consumers. If businesses do not take the time to learn their customers channel preferences they risk losing them.

“In short, knowing the customer – spending time and resource on data collection and analysis and building customer profiles – is a critical component of successful communication, and ultimately, customer value.”

According to a study from Oracle, millennials will have annual spend than any other generation by 2018, which is expected to reach $2.45 trillion by next year in the U.S. alone.

Social media is the greatest driver for brand influence, with 48% of Gen-Y saying social media word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads

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