Saturday, February 28, 2009

Are We Ready for Generation Y?

Courtesy of debaird

Came across this article on the definition of Gen Y folks (also called Millenials, Digitals and Echo Boomers) by Mark Healy which stated some possible responses by marketers to this generation should be. Quoting from the article, here's what the definition of Gen Y-ers is like:

"Born: technically, 1977-1998. I'm talking about the group born post-1990, who are 0-19 years old right now. Optimistic and confident. Believe everyone should have their own path. Communicative but not necessarily classically social. View lifestyle as a right, not a privilege. Digitally trained. Don't so much reject rules like Gen Xers, but see rules as irrelevant. Same with some institutions."

Contrast this with people from my generation (the Gen X-ers) who are described as such:

"Born: 1965-1976. Grew up in largely prosperous times. View higher education as a right, not a privilege, and in some cases as a long frat party. Expect a very high standard of living. Bright and accepting of diversity. Not disciplined savers. Live in the shadow of the great Boomers. Change junkies."

Naturally, it goes on to describe people from the generation before me, who are the Baby Boomers:

"Born: 1946-1964. Rejected the ideals of the Old Guard. Sparked the turbulent sixties. But ended up in many instances following a similar path as their fathers and mothers (wearing suits or carrying lunch pails to similar jobs). Worked incredibly hard and grew the economy like crazy. Conflict averse."

The article went to highlight some possible strategies for dealing with Millenials for Small Businesses. They include parcelling work out in projects as opposed to routinising it, providing more direct and immediate feedback as Gen Y-ers are more used to instant responses, as well as structuring work such that overtime and overwork is minimised (since quality of life seem to be a bigger emphasis now).

While I don't totally agree with the author's views - for instance, I don't think people of different ages can be segmented so neatly into Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y alone - there are some points that we could take note of as marketers.

Gen Y customers (or potential customers) are not going to just swallow everything that you feed them wholesale. Their degree of scepticism and cynicism over what's good value or not will increase significantly as their access to knowledge increases manifold over their predecessors. They also have an increased demand for instant answers that need to be met.

One I could think of immediately is to be able to provide as much as information as possible through online (or offline) means such that Gen Y-ers don't have to search for them elsewhere. An air of mystery is no longer an attractive thing if the answers are provided elsewhere. What companies should do is to see if they can provide FAQs that are comprehensive, useful and detailed.

Another point which companies should do is to be enlightened about what others are saying and to respond to them on its own platform. If you find that a 3rd party has something negative to say about your product or service (in a forum, blog, tweet, Facebook note, of other public platform), address that point in your own website. Conversely, if a customer raved about your product or service, don't be afraid to highlight him or her (with permission of course).

Don't be afraid to collaborate and work with allies in marketing. Gen Y-ers are not going to believe what you say all the time, so its good to have another person say it instead of yourself. Be diligent in trawling the social media spaces (as well as other Gen Y hangouts offline) for these points, because Gen Y-ers are much more likely to be open about their views to the whole wide world if they love your product and service.

The advent of social media also mean that companies have to be ready to answer any questions here and now if possible. Try to allow as many different ways for them to reach you as possible, including having a Twitter account, a Facebook page, hosting of a forum, and of course the usual emails, phone numbers, and even snail mail addresses. Getting them to wait until Monday and to call you from 9 am to 5 pm (with lunchbreak from 12 nn to 2 pm) just isn't going to cut it.

Another point is to reach them through a more soft-selling, organic and natural fashion. Outright in your face marketing - we call it spam - is terribly unwelcome in this day and age. Gaining the trust of Gen Y-ers, who are only going to join the workforce in an age of financial deceit and economic recession, will require a lot more sincerity, honesty and listening. Just being slick and professional alone may not be enough. You need to be tuned into their world on a regular basis and not just because you want to sell them something. Listen, engage and discuss as opposed to preach, command and sell.

What do you think about reaching Gen Y-ers? Are there points that one should take note of? More importantly, are they truly any different from the older generations?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Experiencing the Big "O" at University of Melbourne

Orientation Week has just concluded at the University of Melbourne, and all self respecting students should have got to know every square metre of the campus, every lecturer or tutor that he or she is supposed to be acquainted with, and every single prize winning opportunity available. Hordes of freshmen and women thronged the age-old campus, signing up for various activities, clubs and societies while learning about the various facilities available such as the libraries, computer labs, seminars rooms and so on.

Here are some brief snapshots of my experience this week, focusing in particular on the "Amazing Race" which I undertook this afternoon with three other friends. That got me totally winded and I am "amazed" at how I could still blog after that most tiring (but fun...okay somewhat fun) experience.

The tar roads and concrete pavements were used as signboards with coloured chalk scribbled on them during Orientation Week.

Masses and masses of freshmen flesh thronged the various stalls on display during Orientation Week. Most were obviously undergrads judging by their relative youth.

The Melbourne University Overseas Student Society was pretty popular in recruiting international students. They were the ones who organised the "Amazing Race" which we participated in. More of that later.

Another crowd puller was the Melbourne University Students Union. Their main USP seem to be 15% discounts offered for book titles at the bookshop in return for an annual fee of about A$99.

Lots of commercial companies got into the act, including Commonwealth Bank with their whimsical free-bee campaign.

Apple Computer, with a lucky draw that gives people who leave their particulars a chance to win an iPod Touch. Not sure how many they were giving away though, but I scribbled my name just to try anyway.

The most popular was this Ikea booth, where instant lucky dip prizes could be won just by picking the right coloured balls. Now, who said that only Singaporeans are very "gian png"?

Some of the companies offered welcome relief from the summer heat, like these stalls offering free Lipton Ice Tea. My only feedback though was that the drinks were a little too sweet for my liking.

These four dudes played a light ditty with traditional Australian instruments. Unfortunately, not many seemed to be paying attention.

Of course, some of the grand prizes were awesome. Like this car here. Wow, I didn't know students were such an important target group for marketers in Melbourne!

Some of the stalls were less commercially motivated, like this unusual guy in a bubble igloo house inviting others to join him.

As well as these students petitioning for the cause in Gaza.

As I mentioned, we (that's Masatoshi, Dong Geun, Inho, Renshao our leader and myself) participated in the Amazing Race. This took us to various points of interest for a student (ie cheap furniture, cheap food, cheap groceries etc). The tiring 5 hour race included rides in trams like this...

...the solving of puzzles like Sudoku (which I am totally ignorant about)...

...snapping of photographs like this...

...dashing through supermarkets like this (and getting the prices of specific items)...

P1040032 well as using chopsticks in one's mouth to pick up rubber bands in flour. Well, at least for us post grads (especially me the oldest), it was quite a rejuvenating experience!

OK, time to rest these old creaking bones of mine.... Groan!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where Did Prostitutes and Drug Addicts Hang Out?

The answer was St Kilda's Beach - well, at least in the past. After many years of gentrification, the bayside resort area just south of Melbourne city has become a fashionable and swanky beach neighbourhood, attracting families, singles, seniors and anybody who wanted to spend a day at the beach. Other than the beach, the precinct also had a nice F&B and shopping belt along Acland Street, and a nifty little theme park (Luna Park). In a spirit of wanderlust, I decided to check it out last Sunday morning and bought a Sunday Saver tram pass (which cost AUD 3.10) and decided to explore this destination at the City of Port Philip.

Palm-lined roads greeted one along the ocean front, with festive carnival stalls on a Sunday peddling art souvenirs, T-shirts, and other wares.

Here is one of such stalls, with plastic trinkets galore.

Worshippers of the sun baking themselves in the summer heat. Well, it wasn't that hot actually with temperatures hovering at about 24 to 25 deg C or so in the balmy breeze.

Check out these lifeguards attired in yellow and red, which immediately reminded me of "Baywatch", albeit in a slightly less glamorous mode.

This boy was having fun chasing seagulls away. It seem to be a common pastime here, and a great photo opportunity.

Kids can also have fun in this little playground by the beach.

Of course, the Luna Park at St Kilda's Beach was the main draw for children of all ages.

See what I mean?

One could gain altitude in a ferris wheel like this one.

Or enjoy a high-thrill roller coaster ride. There are about three different roller coasters to choose from, depending on your appetite for adrenaline pumping fun.

These inverter rides were also popular, though I can't imagine why people would want to suffer from the sheer vertigo and nausea from this dizzying encounter.

For the younger ones, there are more sedate experiences like this Thomas the choo choo train ride.

Or the ever popular bumper car ride.

Everybody loves a good scare, even in broad summer daylight.

After all that action, one needs to fuel up at these food and drink stalls.

The damage for all that theme park fun? Well, read it for yourselves.

On my way to Acland Street, I chanced upon this stretch limousine...

...and this quirky bearded dude playing electronic music on a ukelele and electronic digeridoo thingy.

Acland Street was full of savoury cake shops and mouth-watering F&B outlets offering all kinds of delicious calorie-rich delights.

There were also some funky shop fronts, like this one here...

...and another with psychedelic 70s-themed characters on a roof. Oh and the man in shades was pretty friendly too.

Melbourne at Night

Took these night photos while going on a tram ride throughout the city of Melbourne. The view of the Yarra River at night was simply stunning and the cool weather made it all the more pleasurable. I guess this also showcased the capability of my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX3 in handling night photographs - without a tripod!

View of Yarra River from St Kilda Road

Crown Entertainment Complex with public sculptures

Inside view of Crown Entertainment Complex

Entrance to Crown Entertainment Complex

Another view of the casino complex along the River


Flinders Street old train station

Monday, February 23, 2009

Celebrating Responsible Living

As part of my long walk last weekend, I visited the Sustainable Living Festival held at Melbourne's Federation Square just beside the Yarra River. It was a pretty interesting encounter for me and shows the extent to which environmental and social consciousness has taken root in this cosmopolitan and multi-cultural city. There were also several lessons to be learnt from my walk through the festival which may be useful for event and roadshow organisers in Singapore. They certainly pull out all of the stops to make the experience as thematic and holistic as they come - albeit in a socially responsible manner.

The only thing I can't bring back though is the weather. Even though it is summer here in Melbourne, the temperature was a nice cool 22 to 23 deg Celcius, and the cool winds and dry weather made it even more comfortable.

Anyway, here goes...

Having an outdoor stage with a band playing seems to be a must to draw crowds. What's unusual though is that the speakers used are apparently low wattage so that they don't consume that much energy.

Some of the stalls cover pertinent topics like having the right population sizes that the planet can bear with...

...As well as promoting responsible 3rd world manufacturing practices by discouraging sweat shops. These are mills with poor working conditions where workers are often paid a measly wage in return for their services.

Encouraging the practice of permaculture, which essentially means generating as much of your own food and other needs in a manner as non-interventionist as possible to the natural environment.

Some of the ideas promoted were quite radical. Like this stall here asking womenfolk to make use of re-usable panty shields and other more err.... intimate stuff! There was another stall which offered re-usable diapers for kids - something that certain parents have been practising from what I understand.

The organised talks centering around different themes and subjects were popular. This one was full to the brim and had a TV Crew covering it as part of the news.

Some of the fascinating topics being covered here. Unfortunately, there wasn't any spaces for me to hear what they have to say but they do look highly relevant in this age of global warming.

Of course, its not always about the serious sombre stuff. There was a play tent for kids to indulge themselves too, in ways which I am sure are environmentally sustainble.

Those who prefer to be outside could cling onto this aluminium built heli-whale, which seem to be an artistically rendered creature right out of one's imagination.

Of course, adults could play too. There was this bongo drumming session where one learns to make music without thrashing the world.

After all that action, one needs to fuel up. Naturally, it has to be organically produced wines...

...and beers...

Bicycling seems to be a common activity in Melbourne, and this stall here promotes the act of riding everywhere as opposed to driving.

What takes the cake though was this Bike Valet - which was FREE by the way - that showed how important it was to reduce one's footprint on planet Earth.

After attending the event, I was certainly inspired to do more for my world. Wouldn't you?