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6	   	   MRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012
Generation Y                Meets Market Research                By Michael Stanat                Last year, researchers w...
For clients of research, the young people      that young people tended to be driven           •	 Engaging customer experi...
innovate new digital products. For many      and at customer service by telephone,         societies in Latin America and ...
China’s Young Peopleand quality concerns.                                                                                 ...
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Generation Y Meets Market Research


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Generation Y Meets Market Research

  1. 1. 6 MRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012
  2. 2. Generation Y Meets Market Research By Michael Stanat Last year, researchers witnessed dramatic changes on the world stage. They saw riots against longtime politicians televised from Arab streets, nationwide protests by Occupy Wall Street and riots in the streets of London about tuition hikes. Behind those headlines was a common thread: young people known as Generation Y playing a larger, more influential role in world economic, political and cultural transformations. Photo credit: David Shankbone Occupy Wall Street – photos from the camp in Zuccotti Park and the march against police brutality, walking to One Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD.MRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012 7
  3. 3. For clients of research, the young people that young people tended to be driven • Engaging customer experiencein this generation can heavily influence by status and affiliation, compared to Popular brands like IKEA andthe success and strength of brands. In Boomers who were motivated more Apple capitalize on a marketing mixa matter of seconds, young people can by power and optimism. The study emphasizing affordable products, highshare opinions globally about the brands compared findings from decades past quality and unparalleled customerthey like and especially the ones they and found that the differences excluded experience. At the end of 2010, Appledislike. And, as societies become older lifecycle variables. announced that it nearly quadrupled itsin Europe, Japan and the United States, In a 2010 survey by Martin Lindstrom, year-on-year revenue in China largelycompanies are increasingly eyeing author of “Buyology” and “Brandwashed,” because of the iPhone and iPad. A keyhow to market to lucrative segments and SIS International Research, young part of that success was from China’swith disposable income and employ people were significantly more influenced young people and their explodingGeneration Y in their organizations. by status, peer dynamics, customer demand for foreign branded products experience and word of mouth. which communicate status and are oftenWho is Generation Y? This drive for affiliation and affirmation perceived to be of higher quality.“Generation Y,” the group of young people coincides with the generation’s high Interestingly, some of the mostborn after 1980 and through the early usage of social media. Young people successful Generation Y entrepreneurs1990s, is generally differentiated from spend time publicly accepting “friends,” cultivate these values in their companies.past generations by their individualism, “de-friending,” “liking” status updates Facebook’s corporate culture exemplifiesconsumerism and technology prowess. and constant in-group networking. Mark this emphasis on a competitively pricedMany news articles write about a product – in this casegeneration of entitled, a free product – withpraise-cravingindividuals whoseultimate pursuit is “ Generation Y,’ the group of young ‘ a focus on quality and experience.personal fulfillment. Thereality is quite different. people born after 1980 and through the Because of new economic realities, Defined by seminalevents such as the early 1990s, is generally differentiated Gen Y is on the hunt for high quality deals –Recession, Post 9-11outlook, and global from past generations by their same quality products at discounted rates.economic and political individualism, consumerism and They do online price comparisons, online technology prowess. Many news articlestransformation, many are shopping and lookstruggling to understand for their next deal write about a generation of entitled,just who this generation on popular sites likeis. Groupon, Facebook praise-craving individuals whose Despite such a diverse Deals, Living Socialgeneration across seven and Yelp. They receivecontinents, interestingcommonalities exist. ultimate pursuit is personal fulfillment. the same quality entertainment atYoung people aroundthe world are less united The reality is quite different.” appealing prices on sites like Hulu, Netflix andby a common goal than iTunes. The concept ofthey are united in fear of lost prosperity Zuckerberg, arguably Generation Y’s the “hunt” and the experience for someand factors “holding them back.” In leading business icon, was illustrated in tends to be more important than theEmerging Markets, for example, youth are the movie “The Social Network” as driven marginal savings. hasconcerned about unemployment, inflation by the desire to belong during his studies even integrated this concept of the huntand competition for jobs to help them rise at Harvard. The success of Facebook into its customer experience as usersin social class. In the United States, Japan is arguably so profound because it “check in” to places and “unlock” badgesand Europe, young people are concerned first capitalized on the deeply rooted to be showcased on their profile pages.about debt, unemployment and tuition. underlying affiliation desires of college With these deals, they can influenceAnd in the Middle East, youth are fearful students to join the network. opinion internet-wide on productsof repressive systems having an impact Having endured the recession, tech- through internet memes, witty comments,on their prosperity. Frustrations towards savvy young people have adopted ways to viral videos and reviews.structures that are perceived to limit their reconcile unfavorable economic pressures Because of their innovative spiritsuccess are commonly manifested in the with their motivations. and digital technological skill set,form of protests largely online and in the Today’s Gen Y consumer considers the Generation Y has drawn the attention ofstreets. following factors together: HR executives and marketing managers Globally, Generation Y shows • Competitive cost due to economic alike. The HR opportunity they see isinteresting similarities across borders. realities not only in terms of attracting skilledOne recent survey by Kenexa conducted • High quality or Strong Brand employees, but also Gen Y’s potential toin 28 of the largest economies showed8 MRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012
  4. 4. innovate new digital products. For many and at customer service by telephone, societies in Latin America and Middlelarge companies, developing a robust new touch-points in mobile, kiosk, tablets East raise new questions for researchersrecruiting program, succession planning, and apps all make buying behavior much on how societies with more young peopleoutreach programs, training program and more diverse. That Generation Y will be a impacts companies and societies.conflict-resolution procedures are top leading adopter of new technologies suchHR initiatives. Companies like Standard as model raises the need to understand Researching Generation YCharter in Singapore have aimed to Generation Y. While young people congregate inattract Generation Y by embracing digital Despite a global economy, Generation Y large numbers on social networks, ahabits, e.g. providing iPads to staff and culturally differs from country to country. comprehensive picture is often needed tosetting aside dedicated office space as For example, Chinese web-enabled youth account for slight differences in segments“hang out space.” access the internet almost twice as much and for the self-censorship that can occur However, this generation is far from as their USA and European counterparts. in certain mediums. In Generationalhomogenous. Lady Gaga commands much less of a fan- Research, hybrid methodologies can help Gen Y’s online habits are becoming following in China and Korea than do local contextualize cultural, behavioral andmore diverse. A recent study by Gartner music stars. Gender dynamics can heavily attitudinal insight. China’s New Environmentchallenged myths about young peoples’ impact purchasing decisions in some Part of my research among China’ssocial media obsession. Nearly one in four countries and have little impact in other young people concerned the purchasingAmerican Gen Y respondents considered countries. Subcultures can be lucrative habits of young people in a countrythemselves bored and “burnt out” by target segments for companies, but can known for price leadership of its media, while a slightly larger evolve rapidly. Online surveys and background researchpercentage mention higher usage than Societal representation of Generation on the topic were less common then. Abefore. Y also differs dramatically. In North basket of methodologies were needed, As the digital revolution continues, America, Europe, Japan and China, young such as many in-depth interviews,new customer touch-points can mean adults are already beginning to support ethnography, homestays, focus groups,more ways to reach out to new segments. their parents as they age, raising new offline surveys, quantitative research,Whereas previous generations once questions about the future of Generation secondary sources and cultural research.primarily engaged with brands at stores Y in ageing societies. In contrast, younger In the research, complex considerations impacted purchasing beyond priceMRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012 9
  5. 5. China’s Young Peopleand quality concerns. also gaining more and moreRespondents in some casesdisplayed conspicuous “ s the digital revolution continues, A attention in intergenerational research.consumption, spendingbeyond their comfort level. new customer touch-points can Summary Generation Y is rising onThis was unexpectedas income, inflation mean more ways to reach out to the world stage impacting politics, economics, societalpressures and fears aboutunemployment ranked very new segments. Whereas previous structures, the marketing landscape and marketinghigh in young peoples’ fearsfor the future. generations once primarily research. Understanding engaged with brands at stores and Ethnography and cultural the nuances can mean theresearch uncovered that difference between success at customer service by telephone,young people of moderate and failure for products andmeans occasionally brands. Hybrid researchpurchased expensive foreignbranded goods as a means new touch-points in mobile, kiosk, programs and HR outreach can provide granularto communicate status ina society that emphasizes tablets and apps all make buying insight to make sense of and to engage a diversehierarchy and relationshipnetworks. For some, this was behavior much more diverse.” generation worldwide. Michael Stanat is a Globalboth ironic and intriguing, as Youth Research Specialist, skate parks and bars, can provideChina is technically a communist country and a speaker on Generation Y issues. A deep observational insight from peerwith Confucian values of thrift. The fellow member of Generation Y, he is the researchers on-the-ground. As theanalysis provided more topics for further published author of “China’s Generation need for affiliation is important for thisinquiry. Y: Understanding the Future Leaders of generation, some researchers have Co-creation, ethnography and cultural the World’s Next Superpower.” Stanat is a employed word of mouth and buzzresearch together can help to provide Global Emerging Markets Executive at SIS tracking to understand how interpersonalcontext and understand intergenerational International Research, and has previously influence can impact purchasing.differences. “Coolhunting,” in which worked at market research firms in China In addition, the study of Semiotics,peer researchers conduct ethnography and the Middle East. Behavioral Psychology and Heuristics arein respondents’ preferred venues like10 MRA’s Alert! Magazine – January 2012