Innovative Companies and their GenY Customers

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on December 24, 2015

Let’s start with the very cliché statement- Millennials are a unique new breed of plugged-in networked savants. They expect seamless experience across all platforms in their quotidian lifestyle. They have an omniscient grasp of prices and promotions. Companies have been acknowledging this very idea and making the key decisions on their product innovations and marketing strategies. This article tries to study whether this new wave of brand activism in terms of technology innovations, a marketing messiah or a slippery surface of irrelevant brilliance. Do all strategies implemented by brands to attract the millennials work their way to the top or do they bite the dust mid-way?

Understanding Gen Y:

With 2.5 billion Millennials (or Gen Y) i.e. about one third of the global population, expected to spend $200 billion in their lifetimes in US alone by 2017 (source: Viacom study), they are primarily driving consumer demand and innovation. They always had access to technology (computers, cell phones) in their youth and they are the first to grow up as “Digital Natives”. They spend an average of 7 hours a day online and believes technology is ubiquitous and make lives easier. They spend 96 digital hours per month with 91% on Facebook, 48% Instagram etc., while 83% of millennials sleep with their mobile phones.

In essence, millennials are therefore 2.5X more likely to be early adopters of technology, they are both drivers and consumers of it. Brand’s success therefore depends on tapping on this digitally savvy population, attracting and converting them.

Image: pixabay

What are the brands doing?

Various brands are living in their own la-la land with an assumption that any marketing strategy that corresponds to being in a place that is crowded by millennials would fetch them the returns they aspire. Nescafe is the first global brand to move its entire online presence to Tumblr, thus aiming for the coffee-loving youngsters. Forever 21 is one of the top brands that has a great followership on Instagram. The thread screen it has come up with has gained huge PR accolades in the online community. It is a rarity if someone did not hear about Oreo’s Super Bowl stunt- “You can still dunk in the dark”. It became known as the tweet that was heard around the world. Wall Street journal commended the idea as in ‘How Oreo has culture-jacked the Super Bowl. All this but the real numbers that responded to the tweet, constitute only around 0.02% of their target market.

While the idea here is not to demean the concept of trendy strategies and campaigns that worked wonders for many brands, it is about challenging the sustained advantage they might not provide.

Innovations everyday:

-Have you heard that Facebook has come up with a personal assistant ‘M’, which is going to monetize its messenger? The combination of artificial intelligence and real time responses by Facebook employees, could represent a huge opportunity for brands that want to enter the band-wagon of digital presence. It must be a known fact by now that Facebook is also going to come up with a dislike button! It has 1.4 billion users worldwide and is the biggest network so far. Putting aside the aspects of cyber bullying, this might just be the biggest challenge and an opportunity for brands. This real-time customer feedback could be a real asset or a potential brand embarrassment if the dislikes overtakes the likes. They may in other cases actively seek out dislikes if they are looking to evoke a sympathetic emotional response. All this might just end up targeting customers in a better way.

-Twitter with its new found mate, Periscope plans to introduce Project Lightening, to better aggregate tweets and photos from live events and breaking news situations. It gives you the unique advantage of being able to follow the aspects of a live event without necessarily having to sign-up for the service.

-While the race is among Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among others, there are a few more platforms dawning the arena every day. Look at O2’s Weve. It is keen to leverage its own data matching it with brand’s CRM database. It is transitioning to become a programmatic business and is currently working with ad-buying partners. Thanks to such companies as they no more try to steal data on the open market by accessing people’s location from the back-end of an android app.

-Flipkart’s social shopping is a step to add offline shopping experience to online. Flipkart mimicked the social interactions found in malls through “Flipkart Ping”. Ping helps you to chat with your friends while shopping adding to your shopping experience.

-Apple’s iBeacon technology with its Bluetooth Low Energy principle, allows mobile apps to understand the consumer’s position on a micro local scale and thus deliver the hyper-contextual content and personalized pricing based on location.

All this and many more technology innovations everyday tries to entice those consumers that are tech-savvy and that are at the fore-front of technology adoption. While it is true that the validation of these technologies is still a question that only time can answer, we have to acknowledge the effort being put in to add value to the consumer.

Brands with their huge amounts of data gathered through transactions/so called big data, are rigorously trying to entice the customers. This has been working since ages starting from the day when Tesco introduced its loyalty card and never had to look back again. Nevertheless, here comes the concept of impossible trinity of information-Data can never be authoritative, comprehensive and Up-to-date. There is still the concept of dark social (It constitutes the traffic that comes from sharing content that web analytics cannot track i.e. when someone shares content through instant messaging, emails and forum posts) that needs to be addressed.

In essence:

The quicksilver nature of social media has already been reiterated, through proliferation of new social sites. This means the conversation taking place is constantly evolving. Next year, it could be an entirely new site that might dictate the market. The viable option for the brands thus is not to try and intrude the customers in every way possible on every site, but be a part of the conversation in the social space. After all, people stay on social channels to connect to other individuals rather than brands. Nurture those hand-raisers that share your content rather than dumping your data where it is not welcome. In essence, companies thus appear to be more interested in developing a consistent cross-channel experience and personalized selling rather than enriching the services that makes the overall experience of a consumer better, faster and more memorable.

Thus innovative technologies that offer value to the customers would be a far more valuable asset and if integrated with social that aims at being a part of the public conversation, would bear fruits, rather than the ham-fisted attempts to entice GenY with anything that comes in handy.

This article has been authored by Dimple & Sahith IIM Ranchi & FMS


1. Why the “Y”: Millennials and the Generation of Innovation by ADRENALINE




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