Evoke Emotions to Appeal to Gen Y Consumers
What’s the best way to reach Gen Y buyers?
That’s the perfect question to ask as the industry begins to emerge from the downturn because, right now, we are witnessing a remarkable marketing transformation that is being led by Gen Y consumers.
According to J.D. Power Web Intelligence, Gen Yers — those 85 million strong born in the 1980s and 1990s — make up the largest consumer demographic today, eclipsing the 76 million baby boomers and more than double the 35 million Gen Xers.
As this generation of “digital natives” — they grew up with digital technology a significant part of their daily lives — enters today’s workforce, we are learning that they have very different communication skills, cultural interests, behavioral patterns and purchasing strengths from those of their parents.
For instance, tech-savvy Gen Yers believe technology is their most important lifestyle necessity. In a 2008 Gen Y focus group study conducted by Newport Beach, Calif.-based Bassenian Lagoni Architects that ranked technologies by importance, 61% of the Gen Y respondents said they couldn’t live without their cell phone, 31% said they couldn't do without their iPod or radio and 12% pointed to their GPS as their most important technology.
Excuse the generalization, but this generation probably will never have a land line installed in their apartment or home, and many will be more than content texting, rather than talking to one another, across the room about their new favorite indie rock band or movie.
But that's not all. According to surveys, Gen Yers spend three or more hours a day online — more time than they do reading books or watching TV — and their online time is expected to increase during the next 10 years. They game online and search for music, grooming products, restaurants, cars, clothes, entertainment, news and more.
So, is it any wonder that the methods of marketing and merchandising we use on their predecessors are not having an impact on this generation?
To reach this generation, marketers should concentrate on social networking campaigns — a much more effective method of attracting their attention — and put fewer resources into print, radio and TV advertising or printed collateral material.
This skeptical generation also sees “old school” informational advertising as interruptive, according to research by the University of Washington, Seattle University and Washington State University examining consumers' responses to advertising — including brand beliefs, responses to informational and emotional appeals, efforts to avoid advertising, attention to ads and reliance on ads versus other sources of information.
"The advertising skeptic regards advertising as not credible and, therefore, not worth processing," said Doug MacLachlan, professor of marketing at the University of Washington Business School and a member of the study's research team.
They don’t trust the traditional and proven forms of advertising, marketing or merchandising and are more inclined to validate truth in advertising by consulting with friends and family. Consequently, Gen Yers are beginning to change the way we brand, market, advertise, merchandise and communicate.
Emotional Advertising Cuts Through Their Filters
One way we marketers can reach this generation is through “emotional” advertising.
Emotional advertising evokes a direct behavioral response by directly connecting the consumer with a brand, product or service.
This type of advertising resonates because almost everything this generation consumes — favorite team-colored apparel; M&M candy with personal messages — are made special, customized and connected.
The brand that most excites their feelings is the brand they will end up choosing.
So, to evoke emotion and build brand loyalty in Gen Yers, consider these six points:
- Reflect on Gen Yers’ values and appeal to them in a genuine and authentic manner. Align your products, goods or services with their experiences and build a relationship. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty connected with the Gen Yers by communicating the health and beauty message of real people instead of models. Their slogan, “feel good about your skin, feel good in your skin,” resonated successfully to this generation.
- Use icolors to create lasting impressions. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best-selling book, "Blink," was correct. We can make accurate decisions in just a blink-of-an-eye. How do you think a Gen Yer would react as they walked into a model home and saw their name embroidered on a bathrobe or saw a birthday gift wrapped in a tiny blue box? Gen Yers have grown up in a self-indulgent world and relate to direct target marketing.
- Less is more. Make your promise in as few words as possible and then keep it. Research gathered by the social and marketing research firm DYG reveals that people who looked at Web sites for less than one-twentieth of a second rated their visual appeal with the same consistency as those who had a much longer time to view the site.
Remember, Gen Yers take in visual information quickly, evaluate its content and then jet to their next subject. You will lose their attention by flooding them with too many words or mixed messages — causing them to click their mouse and proceed to their next topic of relevance. The same should pertain to model homes, landscape designs, brochure covers, billboards, print ads and other new-home marketing materials.
- Attitude is everything. Have you investigated “mobile” advertising? If the cell phone is the one device Gen Yers cannot live without, how are you utilizing its potential? Show that you understand Gen Yer needs and desires by communicating with them in the same way that they communicate with each other. And don’t forget to create a Facebook fan page for your new home community or to tweet this generation of followers about a new phase release or a customer care maintenance reminder. This tech-savvy generation cannot seek validation from their friends and family about their new home purchase if they can’t connect with you online.
- Consider their emotional needs. When creating branding platforms and campaigns, planning and designing product and merchandising homes, give them access to information that will support their needs and desires. Emotional advertising will bypass their skeptical filters and deliver authentic communication, aligned messages and intelligent suggestions for products and services. Be sure your content is relevant and current; if it doesn’t move at their fast pace, they will leave you behind.
- Review, review, review. Always be open and responsive to shifts and variances in your marketing plan. Remain current and connected to your market and continue to monitor and measure your results.
Dottie Paek, MIRM, CMP, is an award winning "thought leader" with more than 25 years of solutions-driven experience with both small start-up companies and large, national corporations and has built, developed and been involved in every aspect of the marketing process. Paek currently serves on the executive board of directors for the Sales and Marketing Council of Southern California and has chaired topical and relevant educational programs for its members. For more information, e-mail Paek at email@example.com, or call her at 949-201-9505.
This article originally appeared on the NAHB Sales and Marketing Channel in the "Ask a MIRM" section.
Web Site Is One-Stop Shop for Tax Credit Info
Builders and other industry professionals can help spur home sales by referring prospective home buyers to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The NAHB Web site provides detailed information on both the extended $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the new $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit signed into law by President Obama.
Consumers can use the Web site to find information on both tax credits — including frequently asked questions and links to social media sites that provide updated information as it becomes available. It also includes a number of home-buying resources for consumers.
Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight the tax credit Web site when marketing to their potential home buyer market.
‘Social Media for Home Builders’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“Social Media for Home Builders: It’s Easier Than You Think,” available at BuilderBooks.com, demonstrates the power of social media through case studies and online outlets created specifically for the home building industry.
Learn how to use social media sites to build your brand, engage new and existing consumers, manage your online reputation and sell more homes.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
In Today’s Market, 'Think Sold!' With Help From BuilderBooks
“Think Sold! Creating Home Sales in Any Market,” available at BuilderBooks.com, is a practical, how-to guide for developing the self-awareness, knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the competitive field of new home sales.
The book covers everything from the home buying process and new home financing to strategies for making better sales presentations and sizing up the competition. It teaches readers how to overcome customers’ concerns and provides specific examples of how to explain the benefits of new home features in customer-friendly language.
“Think Sold” provides insights on how to approach sales and life from a position of optimism that will create successful outcomes; how to improve upon potential customer prospecting and follow-up skills; and how to communicate effectively with various types of buyers and learn how to adjust communication strategies to increase rapport and alignment with buyers’ motives.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.