How To Sell Fear to Generation Y
Who Are We?
I’m sure you’ve noticed us. Heck, you’ve probably yelled at us for texting while walking or asked us to fix your computer.
- We’re currently the world’s youth, Generation Y, also known as Millennials or Generation We.
- We’re born between 1980-2000, and there are alot of us -about 95 million strong, making Millennials the largest generation in history.
- We’re a generation like never seen before. We’ve achieved high levels of education, we’re technologically capable and we’re ethnically diverse.
But for all of our wonderful traits; Millennials are transitioning into adulthood, and we’re afraid.
At 23 years old, I’m nearly in the centre of my generation and much like other Millennials, I’m educated. In fact, I’m currently writing my graduate thesis on the emotional appeal of brands to Millennials. I want to find out which emotions are most likely to attribute to brand loyalty.
Here’s What I Discovered
Growing up, I was regularly told “you’re going to graduate university at the best time possible…all the baby boomers will be retiring and there will so many jobs available”.
And I wasn’t the only Millennial to be made this promise.
Now youth unemployment is at record high and 20.3% of 16-24 year olds in the UK are out of work – this is the highest figure ever recorded! What’s even more concerning, is it’s a global trend.
Before I wrote this post I sent out a quick survey to students in my university department and simply asked:
The answers below, are a sample of the typical sentiments of an average Millennial.
They fear: failure, personal inadequacy, the unknown, failing at everything, never marrying or having kids, losing control of situations, being lonely, being emotionally hurt, being let down, letting themselves down.
This is not to say that we’re totally forlorn, but in order to understand Millennials, it’s important to acknowledge that at a time when most of us our coming of age, the world is falling apart. Our heads where filled with promises of success, and quite frankly, we’re disappointed.
Fear Marketing Is Unwelcomed Here
Organizations are communicating with an audience that has been on the receiving end of fear inducing messages throughout their lives.
Rannie Teodoro, a student at Rutgers University found through her research that fear appeals are ineffective because young people have witnessed or done these “deadly” activities and, to put it bluntly, not died.
Trying to initiate feelings of fear about death, disease, poverty etc. Will only be met with scepticism.
Organizations Must Pay Attention to Us
Generation Y is known for its consumerism. We’re voracious and sophisticated consumers with deep brand awareness. Actually, we’re so driven to consume that some social scientists believe that our consumptions patterns are reflected in our love of vampires and their constant need for blood. (Creepy, eh?)
So Who’s Got It?
As an industry, higher education has a devoted following of Millennials. They offer students more than just education; they promise a good, happy, self-fulfilling future. They give Millennials validation, a community and a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.
And is this working? Of course! The number of Millennials with post-secondary education continues to grow, even in a recession.
Social Media is the ultimate outlet for Millennials and it caters directly to our fear of insignificance. Nothing says “hey, I’m here, I matter” more than a blog. Facebook gives a sense of community regardless of our location, and Twitter, is a constant source of information.
I can’t mention brand loyalty and Millennials; without mentioning Apple. Why are Millennials so crazy for it? Because it puts our fears to rest. Take their recent slogan: “There’s An App For Everything”.
How can Millennials possibly feel inadequate if they can have everything in the palm of their hand?
Apple products make us feel in control of our fears through something we know and understand: technology.
Make us Feel Empowered
Of course organizations will need to consider other marketing factors, to be truly loved by Millennials. But understanding our basic fears and primal instinct, is a good a place as any to start.
- What has your experience been with Millennials?
- What are your impressions about this generation as consumers?
- Have you had success with fear marketing?
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