The two-part session called "Story Generation—How to Market to and Engage Gen Y" was terrific. Not only was session presenter Michael Margolis, founder and CEO of Thirsty-Fish (pictured above), really engaging and knowledgeable, this was the first session I went to all day that allowed the attendees to participate in their own learning. Whew, it felt good to not just sit and be spoken to, even by presenters as fabulous at Ken Schmidt. We covered so much and I have so little energy left right now that I'll just mention a few eye-opening facts:
Gen Y, depending on how you measure it, could number up to 76 million people, equaling the number of Boomers. By comparison, there are only 20 million or so Gen Xers. Margolis calls them "the story generation" because, between MySpace, blogs, Flickr, and all the other social networking sites and tools out there, people of this age grew up having lots of ways to tell their stories—and have an audience to listen to them, no matter how small.
We broke into small groups to tell stories about our interactions with Gen Ys (even for the Gen Yers among us), then to find common themes from these stories. Some we came up with about Gen Y:
-They are fluent in electronic communication
-They are tech-savvy
-They can have difficulty understanding the boundaries between what is public and what is (or should be) private.
-They have self-esteem to the point of entitlement.
-They have short attention spans.
-They want the "easy button," but want to be paid big bucks to push it.
-They are easy to please.
-They experience life through teams and collaboration
-They are service-oriented.
-They are excellent multitaskers.
-They don't accept the status quo
-They are unafraid of, and even crave, change.
Does this just describe the state of being a 20-something-year-old, one audience member asked. Yes, Margolis said, but some characteristics are unique to this generation, such as their experiencing role reversal in their families (for example, they often take the role of parent/teacher, such as being the tech guru of the house).
According to a Pew Research Study from 2006, their priorities are: #1, to be rich; #2, to be famous; and #3, to help people. Their biggest challenges are: #1, financial debt; #2, college/education; #3, career/job.
More on Gen Y: Another study found that 61 percent of 13-25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world. Eighty-one percent have volunteered; 69 percent consider a company's social and environmental stance when shopping; and 83 percent trust a company more when it has a good social responsibility record.
More to come, hopefully tomorrow morning. But I will say that, by the end of the first half of the two-parter, several of us were so interested in sharing our stories, challenges, and solutions about Gen Y issues (whether from the Gen Y or us ancient folks' perspectives) that we wanted to continue the discussion when we get home. If you're interested in joining some kind of online group to talk about this, just let me know.