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A few weeks ago, attendees at the annual Shopper Marketing Forum in Toronto had an opportunity to hear from Ms. Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., an award-winning research psychologist, a professor, author, consultant and speaker. In the psychology and retail worlds, she is often cited for her extensive research and understanding of Generation Y.

In her keynote, she unveiled the key motivators for why and how Gen Y’s shop, helping marketers and retailers alike better understand what makes them tick.

Defining Gen Y is varied, but they generally range from age 13 to 33. According to Yarrow, they are enthusiastic, confident and tech-savvy shoppers, and in less than five years will have a greater spending power than Baby Boomers.

She goes on to explain that Gen Y’s are a highly influential group that prioritizes their lives according to technology, making them “…24/7 shoppers who have a higher bar for stimulation and lower tolerance for ambiguity.”

Yarrow identifies six key marketing trends which cater to Generation Y consumers:

  1. Deeper brand involvement
  2. Speed and intensity
  3. Visual and intuitive communication
  4. An understanding of the authentic human persona
  5. Merged online and in-person retail
  6. Impactful ‘technovation’

From what I can extract from these six points, the elements of simplicity and convenience need to be addressed across all strategies. From being able to source out information via their smartphones to making instant purchases without being “sold to”, Gen Y shoppers need to feel like they are in control throughout the entire sales cycle.

Bottom line: Gen Y’s are intelligent – don’t insult them with old school marketing. They can smell it.

Footnote: Yarrow’s book, Gen Buy is a must-read. I’m not endorsing it in any way…it’s just a real eye-opener.