The following is an excerpt from The Secrets of Advertising to Gen Y Consumers, by Aiden Livingston.
“This book,” he writes in the introduction, “is a means to bridging the gap between generations. I explain the different values and perceptions so that people can more accurately construct advertising campaigns that reach Gen Y consumers in the most effective and efficient way possible.”
This is the second of three parts that ran Tuesday, and continues Wednesday and Thursday. It's part of Chapter 5, entitled “Small is the new big: Gen Y’s role in the rise of niche markets.” Mr. Livingston will join us for an online discussion on Thursday at 1:30 pm (ET). Go to the Your Business home page to participate.
PROFITS OVER PEOPLE
Another issue Gen Y has with large corporations is that we think they value profit over people.
Gen Y’s beliefs come from growing up in a world where seemingly every day on the news a large company is conducting massive layoffs of lifelong employees to balance its books. Also, stories of companies using sweatshop labour in foreign nations to help reduce production costs, or outsourcing thousands of jobs to India to save on salaries.
There has been ample evidence throughout Gen Y’s life to believe that large corporate titans worship only one thing: the almighty dollar, and they will step over anyone to get it. ...
I have been chastised on many occasions for shopping at Wal-Mart. My Gen Y friends would say, “They don’t pay their employees a fair wage, and they sell products made from unethical foreign labour, you shouldn’t ever shop there. You are just making it worse.” To which I respond, “It is 4:00 a.m., and I need milk, eggs, duct tape, scissors, a new light bulb, dog food, and a quart of motor oil. Do you have a better idea? I will be twice as ethical tomorrow to make it up to the world!”
By comparison, Gen Y is almost irrationally loyal to companies they believe value people over profit. A sharp contrast to Wal-Mart would be Whole Foods Market, or “Whole Paycheque Market” as I like to call it. ... I have had a lot of lectures from my fellow Gen Ys on the benefits of shopping at Whole Foods.
“They pay their employees better and give them good benefits, plus all their food is grown on sustainable farms, and their animals are ethically raised,” is the constant argument. ...
Considering that Whole Foods Market was founded in 1980 and in 2007 the company was able to buy Wild Oats Market for $565 million, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say it is doing well from virtuous branding. Furthermore, donating part of the proceeds to charity seems to be enough to extol any company to a saintly status. If a store says that a portion of sales goes to help educate children in Africa, Gen Y will shop there frequently and readily pat itself on the back for doing so, as though by purchasing a bagel for breakfast we were flexing our philanthropic muscle.
I am always suspect of these claims because they rarely say how much of the proceeds are being donated to charity. Is it 50 per cent of sales or $50? This is never mentioned and most of us don’t seem to care. That is how blindly infatuated we are with altruistic-minded companies.
Which makes it quite surprising that more large companies don’t participate more heavily in charitable acts, or why the ones that do don’t make a greater effort to show Gen Y what they are doing to help change the world for the better.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Another reason Gen Y flocks to the smaller companies is because they feel large companies don’t take the same pride and put the same effort into their products or services. For example, one of my female Gen Y friends only orders her makeup from a woman who makes all her products by hand. This results in many obvious shortcomings, such as having to order a new product well ahead of time and wait for the woman to make it and then send it to her, as opposed to just stopping at the local shop and buying a new tube of lipstick on the way home. Furthermore, there is a degree of inconsistency. Since each product is made by a woman and not a machine, there is a slight difference each time, this gets offset by the personalization factor, in which the consumer can request slight colour or texture changes on the next order.
Finally, the makeup is much more expensive, costing well over twice as much as its store-bought equivalent.
Why would my friend willingly pay twice as much and have to wait for her makeup instead of just buying L’Oréal from the local store? Because she feels the stuff she gets made is much better quality. She is right; the woman uses higher-grade ingredients than one would find in the average mainstream makeup product. It also contains no preserving agents, since it doesn’t have to sit on a shelf for months at a time waiting to be purchased.
This makes it easier on my friend’s skin, meaning she doesn’t get any blemishes as a result of her makeup. For most women this is a substantial bargain at any price.
THURSDAY: Cookie-cutter companies.