A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
Feb. 10, 2005 Volume 35 / Number 5

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Gen Y Presentation California State - Chico

Who are the Gen Y students?

At the annual Student Affairs retreat in January, Jessica Morgan of Mid-West Campus Services provided an entertaining and detailed portrait of Gen Y students, the students now enrolled at CSU, Chico. How many electronic devices do they have? How much time do they spend on their cell phones? What do they value? Below is the outline of defining characteristics of Gen Y students that Morgan gathered through her research for Mid-West.

Morgan asks that we remember that the characteristics are generalizations, many with which people might take issue. The purpose of her presentation was to help student affairs personnel better understand future students. By doing so, student affairs staff and faculty can be proactive in their efforts to enlarge, enhance, and preserve the University.

Eras of the Baby Boomer generation, the Gen X Generation and the Gen Y Generation

Baby Boomer: 1943-60 Shaping events: space race, women’s liberation, Vietnam conflict, and the 60s

Gen X: 1961-79 Shaping events: Watergate, AIDS rise, Just Say No, Challenger disaster, birth of MTV

Gen Y: 1979-97 Shaping events: OJ Simpson trial, Monica Lewinsky, Middle East Conflict, Sadaam Hussein, Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine shootings, Reality TV, and 9/11

Popular Gen Y'ers: Hillary Duff, Lil’ Bow Wow, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, Prince William

Demographics of Gen Y
  • Born from 1979-1997
    • Aka. Echo Boomers
    • Children of Baby Boomers
  • Oldest just out of college; youngest in grade school
  • Nearly 80 million in population
    • Baby Boomers = 72 million
  • Ethnically diverse – sensitive to diversity
    • 34% are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American
  • One in four live in single–parent households
  • 75% have working mothers
Consumer Profile
  • The next dominant generation of Americans
    • It’s predicted that by 2010, the Gen Y population will be 32% of total population.
  • Spending is already making an impact on the economy
  • Big Spenders - $170 million of own and parents money
    • Average weekly spending by teenagers = $84 per week ($57 of own; $27 or parents)
    • Annually: $25B of own money and influence another $187B in purchases
  • 66% have savings accounts; 22% have checking accounts; 18% have their own stocks and bonds
  • Dollar savvy with adult buying habits and sophisticated tastes
    • Majority grew up in dual income families
    • Afforded Gen Ythe opportunity for more sophisticated tastes in clothing, dining and recreation
  • Grew up in media saturated, brand conscious world = raised as consumers
  • Fostered a distrustful and cynical view of advertising as a whole
    • Often viewed as, "One long ‘Please, please buy me’ attempt" according to one 14 year old
    • Message had wrong target
  • What do you think students look for in an advertisement? It might surprise you that from our research, it is unvarnished truth, irony and humor.
  • Support "cause-related" marketing
    • 83% willing to switch brands for a good cause if price and quality were equal
  • Fiercely brand loyal for a month, then switch to a more current brand
  • Get news on the latest and greatest, what’s hot and up-to-the-minute cool from the Internet – their primary media vehicle
    • 1/3 of life on the Internet
    • The average student has 2 email addresses!
  • First generation to grow up with computers in the home
    • o Using computers since nursery school
  • Email is preferred form of communication
    • o If you can’t communicate on email…what’s wrong with you?
  • Very tech savvy – totally "plugged in"
    • Video games
    • Cell phones, PDAs
    • Music downloads, MP3 players
    • Instant messaging
How do Gen Yers think?
  • Conceptual Abilities
    • Parallel (rather than linear) thinkers
    • Higher input/output
    • Apt to begin tasks randomly – perhaps in the middle – as opposed to a traditional starting point
    • Graphics oriented, see text as supporting visual material
      • o A picture is worth a thousand words.
    • Thrive on change
      • Variety = a few things that change frequently
    • Demand quick, if not instant, gratification
  • Upbeat and confident
    • Self-Esteem generation
    • Positive thinkers
    • Self-reliant: Used to doing it (and many other things) themselves, multi-taskers
  • Asserting their "intellectual authority" over parents, teachers because they are more techno-savvy and capable of accessing greater breadth of information quickly
  • High value for education
    • 90% of HS seniors expect to attend college
    • Strive to continue education through life
  • Motivated and Goal-Oriented
  • Diverse and Tolerant
    • Strong dislike for racism in any form, sexism and homophobia
  • High in Volunteerism
  • Invest in the social and community causes
    • What do Gen Yers value most in life? Family
      • Traditional values
        • Unlike the Baby Boomer generation, Gen Yers value things other than income and status as being primary in life
        • Appreciate family, country, and planet
Distrust of media, politics, and politicians
  • 64% of Gen Y believe government is run by a few big interests
  • In 1996, less than half of 18-24 year olds registered to vote
    • Apathy, rather than civil disobedience


Work Behaviors
  • Desire to work in highly motivated and committed teams
    • Need to be challenged
    • Strive to work hard and do well
  • Up to 20% of their time is spent alone
  • Includers – they make people feel welcome and involved
  • Lofty financial goals – remember they are spenders!
  • Trained to be "Doers and Achievers"
  • Jobs for life are replaced with short-term contracts
    • May have many different "careers"
    • 1 in 5 will be self employed
  • Old age postponed by "senior participation"
  • 1 in 5 Gen Y women will choose to remain childless


How can you reach thm?
  • With Less Traditional Marketing:
  • Has anyone seen the Volkswagen commercial with the two guys in a car who pick up a chair and drive around? Do you get it? It’s lifestyle: relaxed and fun.
Sell a Lifestyle; Not a Product:

McD’s now playing Hip Hop music and not talking about their juicy burgers. Why? Selling lifestyle: diversity is key and everyone looks like they are having fun with friends while eating at McDs – it’s about lifestyle.

  • Brand conscious: yet prefer to figure it out for themselves
  • Prefer directness over subtlety, action over observation and cool above all else
  • How do you "be cool" without looking like you are trying to hard? Go back to what they are thinking – get inside their heads. Build your brand with values that match theirs. Show them how to be confident, empowered, and independent with your brand.
  • ARAMARK: RFoC, new brochures and pictures

Build Trust and Creating Emotional Connections:

  • It’s not about reaching the masses; it’s about building a community.
  • Jones Soda: their website urges fans to send in photos for possible use on their labels. The odds of actually getting selected are low – only 40 are picked each year – but the lure is irresistible because it is interactive. Jones creates an emotional connection. Gen Yers buy Jones Soda not because they are thirsty, but because they want to make a fashion statement…drinking Jones makes you cool!
  • Work with student leaders and favorite faculty and staff to build grassroots advertising. Communicate at popular hangouts and locations.
  • ARAMARK examples: targeted email advertising, website tools, food advisory committees
Use Technology:
  • Use the Internet!:
  • Internet is the Gen Yer media of choice. Build interactive websites with convenient information, sign-ups and link to other helpful sites. Communicate through targeted emails with very few words.
  • ARAMARK examples: e-commerce for purchasing of meal plans and add-on flex dollars and Dining : Style Surveys)


Provide Social Awareness:
  • Support cause-related marketing:
  • Recognize the causes and ideas that are most popular on your campus and program around those issues
  • #1 domestic issue: Homelessness, #1 personal issue: personal safety
  • ARAMARK examples: Fair Trade Coffee within Java City and Starbuck’s, Vegan & Vegetarian recognition through options in our dining facilities


Provide regular reinforcement:
  • Yet, be sure to recognize: The "Nintendo"generation requires positive reinforcement 50-100 times greater than adults now.
  • Provide feedback on their level of performance to motivate them to keep going.
  • Provide opportunities for personal development
  • ARAMARK examples: Internship programs


Provide Constant Change:
  • Be Innovative:
    • Gen Yers need change. They thrive on it. Variety to them isn’t lots of things; it is a few things that change frequently. Offering new products and services give them ownership to advertise to their friends if they like them. Word of Mouth is the most powerful form of advertising
  • ARAMARK examples: Fast Tracks, RFoC, Home Zone-home cooking with a twist
Speak their Language:
  • Speak Gen Y:
  • Your new students respond best to humor, irony, and unvarnished truth. They have an inherent mistrust of government and media. Again, graphics are the best way to communicate to these multitaskers; text is viewed as supporting materials.
  • ARAMARK examples: RFoC logo, brand identity, Your School Campus Dining, support small brands-terra chips

Challenge and Include:

  • Hold focus groups and gather their ideas. Utilize your student interns. Who knows better what students want then students? Speak straight to us.
  • ARAMARK examples: MarketMATCH, Dining:Style Surveys, Internship and student manager programs, Mystery Diner Program
  • Provide Modern, High End Incentives/Premiums
  • Technological twist:
  • MP3 players (IPod)
  • Personal DVD players
  • Digital Cameras




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