Growing up Wired

Marketing to Generation Y is hard, to say the least. They’re fickle with their tastes and have grown up wired. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 96% of all children ages 8 – 18 have been online at least once (Ramos, 2008).

This youngster is getting an early start using a computer.

This youngster is getting an early start using a computer.

Generation Y is estimated to total 60 million people, which is more than three times the size of Generation X (Business Week, 1999). It’s no wonder, then, why marketers have been pulling out all the stops in an attempt to market to this generation of people who have yet to define themselves.

One company is trying something different. Procter & Gamble has created Tremor, a work of mouth marketing unit geared towards children. Tremor recruits teenagers through online advertisements to participate in direct marketing programs. The reason Tremor has been so successful? Picking the right candidates. Tremor’s ideal candidates are the “connected, influential trend-spreading kind” (Walker, 2004). Usually, between 10 and 15 percent of applicants are chosen for the program.

When I was in high school, I participated in the Tremor program. I didn’t really realize what it was at first, but I knew that I got to receive (for free) cool stuff before anyone else and some company wanted to know my opinion about the stuff. For example, I can remember receiving a DVD with a few episodes of this show about some people stuck on an island. I was immediately interested in it. Turns out, it was the pilot episodes of the huge televisions show Lost.

Little did I know, I was helping launch a hugely successful television show.

Little did I know, I was helping launch a hugely successful television show.

I also received things like lip gloss, facial scrubs and makeup. Some of the things I liked; others weren’t any good.

I can remember thinking I was really special because some company wanted to know what I thought about new products and ideas. Of course, I told all of my friends about the cool stuff I was getting. Sometimes, I got enough samples to share with them. Since I’ve always been super-opinionated, I couldn’t get enough of this program. I don’t remember how I ended up getting involved or how my membership ended, but I knew I was a part of something cool.

Now, as I study marketing as a graduate student, I can’t believe that I was a part of such a successful program. I didn’t realize what my opinion was worth because I belong to Generation Y.

So, why is this program so successful? Well, it taps into teens at a time when they’re desperate to tell people things and be cool. When you’re on the inside, you have the upper hand. Plus, it uses word of mouth to create buzz.

Check out these statistics:

  • Consumers say that word of mouth is still the number one influencer in their apparel (34.3%) and electronics (44.4%) purchases (Retail Advertising and Marketing Association/BIGresearch Study, November 2008)
  • Recommendations from family and friends trump all other consumer touchpoints when it comes to influencing purchases, according to new data from Publicis media network ZenithOptimedia. (AdAge, April, 2008)
  • According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”)
  • Most word of mouth is positive. Across all of Bazaarvoice US clients, 80% of product ratings are 4 or 5 stars out of 5. Across all of Bazaarvoice UK clients, 88% of product ratings are 4 or 5 stars out of 5. (“J Curve,” Bazaarvoice and Keller Fay)
  • Online social network users were three times more likely to trust their peers’ opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions. (“Social Networking Sites: Defining Advertising Opportunities in a Competitive Landscape,” JupiterResearch, March 2007)
  • Consumers trust friends above experts when it comes to product recommendations (65% trust friends, 27% trust experts, 8% trust celebrities). (Yankelovich)
  • 91% of moms prefer brands that other moms have recommended. (Marketing VOX, October 2006)
  • 86.9% of respondents said they would trust a friend’s recommendation over a review by a critic, while 83.8% said they would trust user reviews over a critic. (Marketing Sherpa, July 2007)

It’s no wonder marketers are embracing this technique to generate sales. The numbers speak for themselves.

What do you think? 


BazaarVoice. (2008). Online Marketing Statistics: Consumer Shopping, Purchasing and Word of Mouth. Retrieved on December 11, 2008 from

Business Week Online. (1999 February 15). Generation Y Today’s teens–the biggest bulge since the boomers–may force marketers to toss their old tricks. Retrieved on December 11, 2008 from

Ramos, James (August 18, 2008) Lesson 7: The Young and the REST but not LESS: Targeting Youth and Multicultural Audiences with Emerging Media. Retrieved on December 3, 2008 from

Walker, Rob. (2004 December 5). The Hidden (In Plain Sight) Persuaders. The New York Times, 69.


December 12, 2008. Tags: , , , . IMC.

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