Are You Ready for Gen Y?

In a recent conversation I had with a financial industry executive about 2013, we discussed why it is so difficult to move to a new selling approach even when it’s obvious that the current sales model isn’t working. It made me think about the misconception that the current way of doing business is the best strategy versus other approaches. From a historical perspective, many businesses fail to achieve long-term success because of erroneous assumptions about the marketplace.

For instance, today 99 percent of automobiles are gas-driven with internal combustion systems. One would assume that it is the best technology and that other alternatives did not match it. A recent New York Times article cited that 34 percent of cars were powered by electric motors in 1900. What happened? Why did we embrace one approach and not another? Actually it has a lot to do with the Electric Vehicle Company (the largest car maker at the time) falsely assuming that customers did not want to own cars that lead to its eventual demise. When EVC finally went bankrupt, the electric car died too.

The point is that the path to success is certainly driven by a set of unique circumstances that unfortunately, are not stable or long-lasting. In mortgage lending, the industry’s success has in many ways been tied to the growth of the Baby Boomer generation that is now closer to its retirement years. The next big opportunity is the Gen Y or Millennial generation. A company’s ability to serve Gen Y will be imperative in the coming years.

Born between 1980 and 2000, Gen Y individuals are already the most educated, tech-savvy and diverse generation to date. Founders of Facebook and YouTube, they are entrepreneurs who are changing the face of popular culture. Similar to the Baby Boomer generation, the sheer size of Gen Y has the power to reshape aspects of society and culture. So, the way we market to Gen Y will become the way we do business in general.

Some important facts about Gen Y:

&#8226 90 percent use text messages and social media
&#8226 70 percent have downloaded pirated copies of music and movies.
&#8226 Gen Ys create what the ad industry calls social currency, i.e.what is cool or buzz that makes ideas go viral.
&#8226 47 percent of adult Gen Ys still live with their families.
&#8226 Gen Ys think of their parents as friends.

More next time on Gen Y and how to sell to them.