Will Gen Y behavior change the future of marketing?

Participation, sharing and gaming all rolled into one promotion: conceive on your Groupon date and win big

If you are over 30 or 35, chances are that your first relationship with media was as a consumer. You read, watched, viewed and received. But if you’re under 30, chances are pretty good that your first exposure to media was as a participant. You learned early on to post, share, distribute and create.

No doubt most of us do both; we watch and we participate. But there’s pretty good chance that as the first generation of so-called digital natives gets older and plays an even more significant economic and cultural role their media habits will force marketers to change strategies and tactics even more rapidly than they’ve had to in the last few years.

The evidence is everywhere. Ninety five percent of Millennials are members of a social network. That is their “news” source, not to mention their preferred media interaction. Thirty seven percent access the web from a mobile device.  That completely changes the when, where and how brands need to connect and interact with this generation. Sixty four percent of Gen Y creates content in some form of another, more than twice the percentage of all web users. Potentially they can play a significant role in developing or expanding a brand’s story.

So what does all of this mean for brands and marketers? Better social media skills? More clever ways of crowdsourcing? Transmedia story telling? A knowledge of propogation planning? An instinct for when to apply game dynamics?

Hard to say. One thing’s for certain, however. The generation that makes thumb contact more often than eye contact isn’t about to grow up and turn into TV watching couch potatoes. And even if they do, chances are they’ll be watching on smartphones, pads and maybe even äppärati.

Next week at FutureM, a panel sponsored by thenextgreatgeneration.com will discuss (it would be foolish to predict) the future possibilities and challenges posed by Gen Y.

Our group includes Chris Mahl, SVP of Marketing for SCVNGR, the hot new gaming platform; Matt Britton, CEO and founder of Mr. Youth, an alternative word of mouth ad agency; Matt Lauzon, the Gen Y entrepreneur behind Gemvara, an online jeweler that lets you design your own jewelry; and the award winning college journalist Alex Pearlman, who edits thenextgreatgeneration.com.

We figure that covers four potential trends that marketers may want to heed: games and game dynamics; word of mouth and social networking; customization and control; and the desire to be part of a community.

The event, probably sold out, may have a waiting list.  But we hope to video the session and share the conversation live on Twitter via #tnggpanel.

Hope you’ll join us there, and even here in the comment section with any of your own predictions, questions, or other.

Thanks for reading.  Hope to see you at FutureM.