Generation Y: Marketing to & Educating the Younger Generation for Long-term Success

Generation Y: Marketing to & Educating the Younger Generation for Long-term Success

Generation Y group on phones

Today, younger generations shop differently from previous generations. Unlike their predecessors, younger generations are more comfortable with smartphones, social media, gadgets, and apps older generations only saw in futuristic movies. From sensitive social consciousness to digital purchases, the long-term success of a business depends on its ability to attract a younger, more dynamic customer base. 

Learning about what drives the younger generation, what matters most in their lives and what inspires them, can deliver pearls to make your business more appealing to this segment. Here are tips on how you can successfully market and educate today’s younger generation. 

Adopt mobile marketing 

Younger generations spend most of their time on smartphones; on apps and social media. In other words, if you want to market to this group you must meet them where they are and speak their language. More than just adopting a mobile marketing strategy, you must optimize your strategy for mobile graphics, intuitive display, compelling calls to action and lightning-fast response times.

Analysts forecast mobile phone use to increase rapidly going forward, reaching 300 million users by 2024. Brands that don’t have a mobile-friendly customer experience risk severely undercutting their awareness and future sales.

Companies must shift their emphasis from traditional marketing to delivering information to the younger generation. Thankfully, many structures and mediums let you leverage digital marketing strategies. For example, instead of building your apps from scratch you can use free services to create ads on third-party apps. 

Create fresh, relatable, and visually engaging content 

Serving up fresh content that younger generations can relate to is a winning strategy. For example, if you run a clothing brand don’t just take pictures and create content for your brand and stamp it in front of a magazine. Instead, post your content on Gen-Y friendly platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. 

In today’s competitive landscape, use bright colors and bold designs to grab the attention of the Gen Y market. Creative brand identities connect with people of all ages and reach new audiences easier. Simple steps like developing interactive tools rooted in financial education will drive site engagement and loyalty.

Use influencer marketing 

Influencer marketing is another way to reach younger audiences. Needless to say, they must be known celebrities or well-known in niche communities. More than half the population of younger generations trust recommendations by social media influencers, so if you want to increase engagement, improve authority and boost trust, you use influencer marketing to get the word out. 

Create authentic, educational content…or point them to it

People crave content-driven media since information makes them feel empowered. More than consuming, they will share, like, pin, tweet, snap, comment, and forward the content to their online community. Make sure your content resonates with your targeted group. Younger generations trust content that they feel is authentic, so consider interviewing members of Gen Y as a launchpad for your creative content pieces.

In the online space, everyone is an advisor. And, each person carries their advisor role along with them on their smartphones wherever they go. Offer your audience content they would proudly share with others. Not sure what they’d be excited to share? Ask! The answers may surprise and enlighten you.

In addition, companies today should consider offering educational options that, where appropriate, help younger consumers understand the potential impact of their purchase. Interest-rate calculators, opportunity-cost scenarios, and understanding the value of a dollar in these inflationary times are a few places to start.

Linking to sites like The Muse may be another place to serve up useful personal finance tips to your Gen Y customers.

Offer versatile payment options 

Companies must invest in fast, easy, and flexible payment technology. For example, streamlined online payment options and contactless in-store terminals allow shoppers the choice and convenience they need to improve their shopping experience. And with Gen Y, this type of tech is expected.

Replace outbound marketing with inbound marketing 

Outbound marketing strategies like direct mail campaigns and glossy magazine ads don’t impress Gen Y. As well-meaning as businesses are, younger consumers see the campaigns as company-focused, lacking in any real substance, and impersonal. Gen Y responds to customer-driven, personalized, relevant marketing; ideally served up from an authority other than the company.

As a business, replace cumbersome marketing materials with effective content marketing like whitepapers, videos, blog posts, infographics, how-to articles and e-books. 

Gen Y wants helpful guidance, so provide resources they can use right now, bundled with clear messaging about what you stand for and why they matter as customers.

Make it easy to buy 

The best marketing strategies won’t make sales if it’s difficult for people to complete the purchasing transaction. Make checkout simple, intuitive and engaging:

  • Update your online catalog and use a responsive design that’s easy to navigate. 
  • Clarify information about taxes, shipping, discounts, return fees, etc. 
  • Offer coupons and discounts in exchange for a purchase today. 

Be open to collaboration and ask for feedback

Before now, companies created products and hoped the target audience fell in love with them. Today, younger generations don’t just want the final product. Instead, they want to be involved in product creation and the mission of the company. They care where your raw materials are sourced, who the labor pool is, and what other groups may benefit from their purchase.

Gen Y is brand loyal, and wants to feel connected to their purchase in a whole new way…a way that makes them feel good. Whenever possible, build collaborations with your customers and develop a feedback loop to stay in-the-know. 

Don’t assume you’re always communicating with Gen Y. Instead, ask them for feedback on your products, marketing strategy, and services, as this is the only way to guarantee you are efficiently using your resources. 

Also, don’t wait for them to get back to you. Go after them on forums, chat groups, apps, and media pages to know what they are saying about your product. 


Gen Y is a discerning and diverse group. As such you must work hard to capture their attention and understand their buying motivations. Show them relevant content, provide tools where needed, and make it easy to purchase, share, and reuse your product. Connect with Gen Y creatively in an engaging manner…if they like what your company stands for and like your product, they’ll tell the world about their experience and keep coming back.

Looking for some inspiration or need some help connecting with this younger generation? CSTMR speaks Gen Y.  Let us help.

Picture of Whitney Wingerd
Whitney Wingerd
Whitney is CSTMR's Head of Content & Social Media. She has two decades of experience working as an influencer, in digital and social media marketing, that she utilizes in guiding our Content marketing team.

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