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Is Gen Y Dead? Marketing in a Post-Generational World

Is Gen Y nothing more than a product of a not-so-imaginative imagination?  Some social media experts are suggesting just that.  In the new marketing world, traditional ‘generational’ segmentation is losing its value relative to other factors.  And marketing strategies are morphing as well.

We’d like to know:  Do you feel ready to market in a post-generation environment?

The Death and Birth of Generations

We introduced Ryan Hanley – erstwhile Gen Y-er and independent insurance agent and  social media marketing consultant – in this space a while ago. In Hanley’s construct, the traditional marketing approach, differentiation by age, has little meaning in the new marketing world.  In a recent post on his blog, Hanley  writes:

As a marketer there is no such grouping of people as Generation Y or Millennials or Generation X or the Baby Boomers for that matter….

Today there are only two generations:

The Connected Generation defined as individuals willing and open to communications, building relationships and ultimately make buying decisions based on digital content and interactions.

The Unconnected Generation is everyone else.  Common requirements of Unconnected Generation consumers is the necessity for in-person transactions, unwillingness to communicate via email or other digital tools and general skepticism about the Internet.

When The Only Tool You Have is a Hammer, Some Tasks Hurt

Our interpretation of Hanley’s message is this:  If you’re marketing to the Connected with the tools appropriate to the Unconnected, you are trying to put out a fire in the kitchen with a baseball bat – likely doing more harm than good.  Fortunately, help is available.

What are the new tools for the Connecteds?  Hanely, and others, are not recommending Social Media on its own, but rather  ‘Content Marketing’  utilizing Social Media.  Wikipedia defines Content Marketing as:

any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. Content Marketing’s basic premise is to “provide some valuable information or entertainment – “content” – that stops short of a direct sales pitch or call to action, but which seeks to positively influence a customer in some way.”[1]

Citing a report by Econsultancy and Adobe, which included a survey of client-side marketers, eMarketer recently noted that “content marketing had climbed to the top of the list of importance in terms of emerging digital trends, named as a top priority for 2013 by 39% of respondents. That compared with 29% in 2012.”

Our Thoughts, Your Thoughts …

As happened with the Internet, using Social Media is not an end in itself.  Rather, it is table-stakes for marketing in a changed environment.  This is a primary reason why the 2013 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference is featuring a full afternoon devoted to a ‘Social Boot Camp’ which will allow a rich conversation about the new marketing and servicing environment inhabited by Generation Connected.

So… Leave us a comment… Do you agree with Hanley’s construct?  If so, are you changing marketing approaches?

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