Dr Kit Yarrow, Chair of the Department of Psychology, Golden Gate University successfully promoted her new book “Decoding the new consumer mind” which considered the three massive socio-economic shifts affecting consumerism: technology, individualism and emotionality.
Technology – especially the smart-phone – is affecting the way we live in a profound way. Gen-Y (millennial?) consumers who have never known a world without it are most deeply affected and show numerous traits which are hard for the older generations to understand:
- · The phone is used like a pacifier. It’s used when they are stressed or anxious and its main function is an emotional prop.
- · It provides so much instant content that Gen-Y are getting increasingly...
- - hard to excite
- - easily distracted
- - easily bored
- - intolerant of ambiguity
- - short of attention span
- - unwilling to figure things out.
- · There are no trends anymore, but many more things are “trending”.
- · Words are failing to communicate: visual aids and non-verbal clues get more attention.
- · Choosing is a challenge: options are considered shallowly, New is always Better.
Individualism – “It’s all about me”. Superficiality takes over. Gen-Y groups are characterised by:
· Being “alone together” with little eye contact and frequent or continuous use of the phone to the exclusion of other group members.
· Individuals crave the most “postable” moment and take photos frequently. People who take most photos remember least about the live events. They have a reduced experience of life.
· Fewer shared experiences (e.g watching the same TV, reading the same papers.)
· Fewer community bonds. They live in the superficial social media where many shallow friends are more valued than a few close friends.
· They feel they can get famous just by posting the right video on YouTube, preferably a Selfie, and getting it to go viral.
· On-line is the only way to buy.
Emotionality – They are less secure, feel less in control and less connected to the rest of society. They are more anxious and more easily angered. They can be emotionally overloaded by buying things. Complexity is out, but online advisors (Facebook or Pinterest), blogs, reviews and buying on gut-feeling is in. They don’t like too much choice – it adds stress and they’ll walk away without buying anything.
So, how best to sell to them? Involve them. Create products with unique, crowd sourced and customisable options having used the social and interactive media, ratings, reviews to identify opportunities. Ramp up the marketing with special promotions and offers to provide that key “reason to buy”, but be authentic, human, personal and transparent to overcome the inherent “trust deficit”. Above all, innovate to stay relevant and incorporate technology e.g an app to complement the product - wherever you can. Finally, refresh your messages and offerings ever more frequently.