A new generation of technologically savvy 20-somethings is redefining how the marketing world operates.
Known as Echo Boomers, Generation Y, Millennials and several other monikers, the children of the 1980s rely heavily on the Internet, social media and smart phones to digest information.
The term Echo Boomers derives from the increased birth rates in the 1980s as Baby Boomers began having children. Marketers have had to adapt age-old strategies to reach this group, which also is full of youthful idealism.
“There seems to be a big drive by 20-year-olds to do something and make a difference in the world,” said South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Executive Assistant Patrick Pratt, who was born in 1987.
Companies such as Apple, Patagonia and Whole Foods are popular with Echo Boomers because they represent causes other than their products. For example, Patagonia takes a stand on many hot-button environmental issues, such as currently lobbying against a proposed dam in Chile. Echo Boomers relate to that advocacy and are more likely to buy Patagonia products, marketers hope.
“This group values family, country and the planet,” said Kim Calder, marketing director for the Aspen Grove shopping center in Littleton. “They are well-educated with high self-esteem, making them optimistic, confident and assertive. They thrive on change and variety, demanding instant gratification.”
The need for immediate results links Echo Boomers with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Meetup and Pinterest. Users of these platforms are subject to a constant barrage of “likes,” reviews and re-tweets.
The ability for Echo Boomers to interact with their favorite brands and see what their friends are interested in has allowed companies to market through people, rather than to them.
“Echo Boomers want a personal relationship with the brands they are loyal to, want these products at the best possible price and are willing to share their experiences in their sphere of influence,” Calder said.
Aspen Grove and other shopping centers have harnessed this emerging power by having a constant presence on Twitter, Facebook, ShopAspenGrove.com and e-mail.
Aspen Grove also recently began using ValuText, a tool that texts promotions to users’ cell phones when they’re in proximity to the shopping center.
“You can do anything right now on a cell phone that you could do on a laptop. Even more things, because you can make a call,” Pratt said.
Text-messaging and cell phone push notifications are become more and more prevalent. Several applications exist, such as FourSquare, that offer users deals based on check-ins and what stores they are near.
As Echo Boomers and subsequent generations accrue more buying power, marketers will need to continue honing technology-based strategies.
“As technology continues to become more portable and accessible, marketing will need to adapt to the consumer’s expectations,” Calder said. “The Echo Boomers have grown up with technology at their fingertips, creating a constant desire for better, faster, smarter technology to serve their shopping and entertainment needs.”