Brands Aim for Guru Status with Gen Y Shoppers

Targeting prospective customers solely by age group has fallen out of fashion as marketers have been able to more clearly Millennialsidentify audience attributes in recent years. Age does matter in some circumstances, though, especially in terms of the relationships consumers have with brands. The GfK Brand Benchmark Study reveals that Gen X and Gen Y consumers value brands differently, largely because of the current life stage they are in, and smart marketers are seeking specific kinds of relationships to maximize revenue with these potential customers.

The GfK study analyzed 17,000 consumers in the Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations to gauge their feelings about specific brands. The results of the study allowed analysts to assign consumers to 27 different types of relationships with various brands.

Gen Y consumers like to have a ‘best friend’ relationship with brands and this often comes from valuing a product’s functionality. These consumers over-​index, 148, in having  ‘star’ or ‘guru’ relationships with brands that have good images. This kind of relationship requires the brand to generate continuous good ‘buzz’. On the other hand, Gen Y consumers also over-​index, 133, when it comes to having ‘villain-​victim’ relationships with brands that have not responded to their complaints or concerns.

Researchers note that Gen X consumers also like to have a ‘best friend’ relationship with brands but functionality is far more important than star quality to this group. These consumers are busy raising children and don’t have as much time to worry about buzz and image.

Brands have good reason to try to court ‘best friend’ status with consumers. In any category where a brand has 20% of the audience as ‘best friend’, revenues will generate at 5 times the rate of brands that only have 10% of the audience as a ‘best friend.’ Similarly, earning a ‘star’ or ‘guru’ designation from consumers drives significantly more sales at premium prices and increased recommendations from happy shoppers.

In what ways are you driving a guru relationship with your Gen Y customers?

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.