Who is the Neo-Consumer & why should I care?

If you were fortunate enough to attend MAGIC: Part One, you might agree that beyond the celebrity sightings and sneak peaks of next season’s threads, the take-away was in Jamie Gutfreund’s seminar, The Connected Consumer.

Gutfreund heads up Business Development for The Intelligence Group, a youth-based, consumer insights company, and works with brands, such as Microsoft, Walt Disney, Visa, Honda, Adidas, and Nordstrom.

She opened her talk with a throwback media medley of all things pop culture, as defined by Gen Y.  Struggling for a visual?  Think boy bands, Britney Spears and anything you may have seen on I Love the 90’s.

After drawing a few laughs from former TRL watchers and Real World enthusiasts, she laid the groundwork for a conversation about culture:

“It’s Culture over Category: You want to be the Starbucks, not the Folgers.”

So, how does a brand become the Starbucks? They tap into the minds of Gen Y – the 75 million people born between 1980 and 1995. The reason?  Gen Y’s are more peer-conscious than preceding generations.

Say hello to what Gutfreund calls The “Peer-ents” affect.

This cohort of individuals does not just consider what their friends think; they base decisions on what their friends think.   With a single tweet or status update, Gen Y’s crowd-source for feedback.  With a like, tag, comment or share they provide feedback.

Gen Ys are defined by their social profiles. The notion that “I am what I share” is widespread.  They’ve been encouraged to share and they’ve been applauded for their creativity all along.  But, what they create and what they share lives on display.

As a result, we have the Pseudo Individual – the individual with the Group Ethos  “I want to be different, like all of my friends.”  For brands to be liked by Gen Y, brands must give them something that makes them look good for sharing it.

What’s more?  These 15-30 year olds are empowered by technology.  They need technology to interact and they expect 24/7 interaction.  Gutfreund raised the question “If a party happens and no one tweets about it, does it really happen?”

Since the Gen Y consumer is able to build an app or create a trend, they expect their brands to be just as creative – if not, more.

So, as Gutfreund said, “Understanding behavior drives new thinking”.  Be creative.  Be connected constantly and across channels.  Lastly, Invite their creativity.


Photo credit: http://www.magiconline.com/

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