The life priorities of Generation Y

Young people’s attitudes can flummox older generations but they need to consider Generation Y’s life priorities to get a better understanding of today’s youth, says Steve Mellor, youth and kids senior consultant at Harris Interactive
Generation Y (13-28 year olds) seem to be a very difficult generation to make sense of. Youth priorities seem to have changed over the years leaving many – including marketers – struggling to understand how to interact with young people.

Stephen Mellor
Stephen Mellor

At Harris Interactive we recently asked young people to rank statements about attitudes to life, comparing their priorities to those of other generations. There are interesting differences in the attitudes of Generation Y, compared with Generation X (29 – 44 year olds) and Boomers (45 – 65 year olds).

Friendship, not surprisingly, tops the list of priorities for Generation Y. For a great many, friendship is in the same category as family.

Health is high on the agenda as well as this generation is closely attuned to body size, nutrition and mental health.

Pleasure ranked fourth for Generation Y, but it was no higher than for Generation X. Pleasure is certainly a key driver for youth, but no more than the generation ahead of them. Boomers placed pleasure in eighth place, and this is where the difference in values emerges.

While excitement is not a priority for Generation Y. Taking into consideration their life stage we would expect this to be much higher.
’A sense of accomplishment’ ranks mid table for Generation Y, and is much higher than for other generations. Today’s youth value accomplishment highly having had it drilled into them in their formative years and it is one of their defining priorities, along with pleasure, friendship and health.

So, what can marketers learn from these insights?
Ensure you leverage the power of friendships in communication. Touchpoints should concentrate on enabling viral spread of brand communications between friends.

Make pleasure legitimate. The media and older generations put pressure on youth to be more responsible, especially in times of recession, demonising pleasure in the process.

Health is not just important to older generations; it has become relevant for youth as well. Can your brand leverage the modern health benefits associated with wellbeing?

Tap into the sense of accomplishment that differentiates young people from their elders. Create campaigns that can help them realise their accomplishments, or reflect accomplishments back to them.

Maybe we can learn a lot about life from Generation Y. They are looking after themselves by paying close attention to nutrition and placing a high priority on friendship, and in keeping themselves mentally healthy. Marketers who want to target this age group should take note and ensure their campaigns and strategies reflect the changing attitudes of Generation Y.

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