SOCIAL STUDIES: Millennials may not have the money today, but they’ll have more spending power in the next five years than Baby Boomers have right now, predicted Matt Britton, chief executive officer and founder of Mr. Youth, a New York-based social media company.

Britton, who spoke at the Business Insider media conference Wednesday, said the class of 2015 differs drastically from those who graduated college in 2010. He explained today’s college freshmen came home from high school and saw their parents trying to figure out how they were going to get the next paycheck, which has really humbled them. At the same time, they’ve seen people like Mark Zuckerberg start a billion-dollar company out of a dorm room. Britton said the class of 2010 is much more brand- and status-conscious.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

He said Gen-Y is in the midst of a sea change when it comes to how content is actually consumed. For example, today’s college students don’t watch live TV, but now they’re all consuming content on their own devices, using YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. “It makes it very challenging for brand marketers to understand how to reach them,” he said. Everything from a cell phone to a gaming device to a tablet makes it very challenging to reach this demographic. Among the ways to reach them are through entertainment, reward them through loyalty programs, create something they need, personalize your brand and recognize them for past patronage, he said.

A Mr. Youth study called “” explains that Gen-Y’s attention is fragmented across multiple divides. “This means your brand must be completely integrated across platforms and technologies in an effortless and seamless way. With the majority of the class of 2015 using two or more devices while watching TV, traditional media and commercials go almost completely unnoticed,” said the report. The study shows that 80 percent of this age group use two or more devices simultaneously, 59 percent visit Facebook during class and 76 percent spend an hour on Facebook every day.

This generation is more tuned into marketing and branding than any other in history, and has the ability to “sniff-out” false marketing messages, according to the report. “They live transparent lives and expect the same from brands,” said the report. Further, this generation values “how new something is” and is more interested in product performance than status. It also views a company’s brand as a complement to its own.

While previous generations have been reckless with their digital identities, Generation Y is highly conscious of what it is projecting online. “They view every like, friend, tweet, wall post and check-in as a vote for your brand, and a chance to add to their own digital profile and identity,” according to the study.

“They see themselves as broadcasters, letting friends know through social media where to go, and they take these cues from their friends. With over half of all freshmen having amassed 300 or more friends on Facebook, they know they wield mini spheres of influence,” said the study.


Characteristics of the Class of 2015

• 89 percent own a laptop.

• 67 percent access Facebook from their smartphones.

• 40 percent use Pandora.

• 73 percent earn virtual currency.

• 75 percent send more than 20 text messages per day.

• 75 percent upload photos via mobile.

• 58 percent use Twitter all the time.

• 40 percent visit Facebook more than 10 times a day.

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