Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › Marketing to the Gen Y Consumer

Written by Erica Campbell, Gillian Luce and Kimetha Hill

“Gen Yers,” “Echo Boomers,” “Millennials,” “Net Generation,” “Trophy kids,” whatever you want to call them, are you ready to market to them? The largest generation since the Baby-Boomers, the Y Generation is defined by their numbers. Generation Y, born between 1977 and 1994, makes up over 70 million people in the U.S.; which equates to 20% of today’s population. 1 Growing up in the age of technology has definitely given them an edge. In a world where YouTubeTM videos, MySpace® friends and common lingo including terms like ‘OMG,’ ‘LOL,’ ‘I Facebooked you,’ ‘BBIM,’ and ‘I tweet,’ building and sustaining relationships with consumers has become increasingly difficult, forcing marketers to reach beyond familiar and traditional strategies and techniques.

Web 2.0 platforms, mobile devices and video sharing sites are not merely evolutionary changes in the world of marketing. They are revolutionary. As marketers we need to reach Gen Y through an integrated marketing strategy which includes advertising on multiple platforms such as print, Internet, social networking sites, video sharing sites, text messaging, mobile Web sites, and the like. In a study conducted by Junco and Mastrodicasa: “Research on ‘The Net.Generation,'” they found that 97% of students owned a computer, 94% owned a cell phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player (iPod, Zune, Sansa, etc.). In that same study, 69% of students polled reported having a Facebook account, 28% reported owning a blog and 44% reported reading blogs.

Who Are They?

Gen Y is well educated and will have a huge social and economic impact. They are very independent due to divorce, day care and single parents. According to NAS Recruitment Communications, they were raised by “active parents,” who gave children lots of attention. They are very technologically savvy and thrive on networking and connecting with their friends and families through instant communication. Gen Yers, also known as Millenials, are considered efficient multi-taskers who will get things done faster and better than their competition. Often times Millennials can be curious, expressive and impatient while demanding instant gratification.

How Do You Gain Gen Y’s Attention?

Have your message available to them across multiple platforms. For Rent Media SolutionsTM accomplishes this by enabling renters to find apartments any time, any place and strives to position your apartment listings in more places for consumers. With more than 2 million publications distributed monthly nationwide, 2.4 million visitors each month to its Web sites, more than 13,000 text messaging customers, more than 2,000 customers using its online video, For Rent Media Solutions offers more points of contact to apartment listings than anyone in the multi-housing industry. Here are four tips on how you can successfully engage with Generation Y in this ever-changing marketplace:

  1. Be available 24/7:
    Today, consumers are gathering information when they want and how they want. Gen Y in particular has become accustomed to instant gratification and they prefer to receive lots of  feedback. They tend to be impatient and want answers immediately. So take that into consideration when marketing. In addition to your Web site and listings on our Web sites,  also consider having a blog. As mentioned previously, 44% of the participants from the Junco  and Mastrodicasa study reported reading blogs. That’s a huge audience! For Rent Media Solutions allows prospective renters to find apartments 24/7 via our Web sites, social media profiles, our iPhoneTM application, mobile Web site, and text messaging.Incorporate For Rent Media Solutions’ text messaging product into your advertising. This allows the apartment seeker to send a text message with your property’s unique keyword to the short    code 47368 (4RENT). The property keywords can be seen on leasing banners, yard signs at the property, and in For Rent Media Solutions’ magazines. By texting the keyword, apartment  seekers receive a response text message with information about the specific property.   Property managers can also use the service to send customized messages promoting specials to  potential renters, as well as important messages and alerts to their current residents.
  2. Listen:
    Gen Y is very blunt and expressive and making their point is important to them. Listen carefully to their wants and needs and analyze their behavior. According to a Cone Business study in September 2008, 93% of people using social media believe a    company should have a presence in social media and 85% believe a company should go further than just having a presence and should also interact with its consumers via social media. For Rent Media Solutions continues to push to be more social and find new ways to engage its consumers.  ForRent.com has taken a strategic approach to get in and get social and take their efforts to the next level with sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter to maximize their  reach.For Rent Media Solutions likes to encourage feedback from its users and wants to hear what they     want in order to provide a better apartment searching experience for them. The company diligently follows up with customers whenever they have a question or comment whether it is   sent in the form of an email, MySpace message, YouTube video comment, Facebook message or a Tweet. Engaging with consumers provides a better experience for them while also giving companies necessary feedback.
  3. Be Creative:
    Gen Y likes to mix it up and keep it new. So your advertising to them needs to be creative in order to catch their attention. Things you’ve done in the past may not necessarily work for the future. Being innovative and thinking outside the box is vital! ForRent.com launched its second  annual video contest on April 1. The “Ready2Move?” video contest at http://contest.forrent.com/    asked apartment seekers to tell ForRent.com in a 60 second or less video why they are ready to     move, for a chance to win $10,000. The concept gives users lots of flexibility with their     responses and also allows for plenty of room for fun and creative interpretation.
  4. Go Green:
    The green revolution is more important to members of Gen Y than it ever was in the past. Gen Y has grown up with efforts to help save the environment and help preserve it for future   generations. Therefore, they are much more willing to alter their point of view on a company if        they know they are committed to conserving resources and finding innovative ways to be eco-friendly.  For Rent Media Solutions understands the big impact that corporations can have on the   environment. Here are some ways that we are helping to protect the planet: All newsprint pages   are printed on recycled paper and our insert cards are printed on a UV press that uses non    hazardous inks and do not emit VOC’s into the atmosphere.We also recycle all of the metal for the plates, and the ink/water/fountain solution. In addition to using eco-friendly methods during our business practices, we also provide ‘going   green’ tips and green living blogs for apartment renters and property managers. These tips range from using ‘green’ products to clean your apartment, purchasing  energy efficient appliances, ways to save on water, heat and electricity and how apartment communities can benefit from ‘going green.’

The bottom line is that Gen Y is making waves. Understanding the needs and wants of the Y generation is one of the most important steps in marketing to them and retaining them as your customers.  In order to reach Gen Y, brands need to keep their advertising simple, be available, be authentic, be trendy and be where they are by providing them with what they want.

Source: 1 Bureau of Census

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    Deirdre Gonzales

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