Carat delves into Gen Y and how marketers can better communicate with them

Tough times breed strong resilience, and within Millennials, also called Gen Y, there are plenty of entrepreneur billionaires looking to buck the generalisations of the past. To closely examine Aussie Gen Y, Dentsu agency Carat leveraged its consumer connections system, to examining them in detail for a new report ‘Carat Gen Y in View’, to see how marketers can better connect with them.

Now aged between 24-39 (having been born between 1982-1996) Millennials  have lived through two economic recessions, a housing affordability crisis, and now a global pandemic.

Danni Wright, Carat’s national head of strategy and connections planning, says of Carat’s findings: “This generation are moving through a critical period of redefinition as they navigate some of the more traditional markers of ‘adulthood’ like marriage, starting a family or buying their first home.

“This means that they are bucking some of the stereotypes that have defined them to date, whilst also forging their own path though these life-events, all at a time of wider cultural and societal reset.”

Keeping pace with how this is impacting their motivations and attitudes is challenging, but the research is designed to give greater insights for marketers. Looking locally and globally, Carat’s report identified four trends that showcase how to address these increasingly important consumers.

Firstly, they are moving major ‘adulthood’ milestones forward instead of backwards. Carat has also witnessed a fundamental shift in core values, attitudes and priorities for Gen Y, ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, they feel caught in the middle. The ‘generational punching bag’ has been copping it from both sides across Baby Boomers and Gen Z.

Thirdly, they are finding new ways to beat burnout. They continue to pioneer attention and education on health and wellbeing, for the benefit of all generations.

And finally, they are experiencing ‘early onset nostalgia’. In an unpredictable and gloomy world, they have found themselves looking to the past to escape to a safe place.

A mature consumer

As Gen Y has grown, so too have their bank accounts and families. They now have serious spending power across all categories from home DIY to children’s toys.

Contrary to Boomer perceptions, Gen Y were financially savvy and responsible pre-pandemic. With lower wages and higher costs of living, even before the pandemic, Gen Y have had to be fiscally responsible. On average globally, the were saving or investing 40% of their wages, with three in four actively budgeting their money. According to Think with Google pre-pandemic, many of the generation were focused on saving for shorter-term lifestyle purchases, such as experiences and travel.

Source: Gen Y in View [click to enlarge]

According to Think with Google, 92% of young Aussies have done some activity to increase their financial knowledge, and 56% of young Australian adults are now managing their money more carefully.

Gen Y are making the most of traditional and new channels to set them up for success. For example, they are increasingly turning to technology to help guide and support themselves, tapping into financial videos, investment apps such as Robinhood and Acorns, and finance podcasts including ‘She’s on the Money’.

Source: Gen Y in View [Click to enlarge]

The Australian dream reignited:

This has led to a swell in demand to get on the ladder amongst Gen Y at a time when the wider property market is becoming more competitive. In March 2021, Realestate.com.au reported a 97% year-on-year increase in ‘For Sale’ searches nationally. However, with programs such as superannuation withdrawal and HomeBuilder coming into effect to finally provide more support to this generation, the dream could be closer than ever for some.

COVID-19 has restricted freedoms, but for some who have remained in the workforce, led to increased savings. As well as being unable to spend big money on travel, entertainment and events, Gen Y are also rethinking spending large amounts on weddings, with overall marriage rates in Australia dropping 25% in the past 20 years and a high degree of uncertainty surrounding wedding planning in view of the ongoing threat of snap lockdowns.

Forging their own path: Gen Y are questioning outdated expectations of marriage and children. Australia’s total fertility rate reached an all-time low in 2019 and has been ‘below replacement’ since 1976. Add to this the fact that two in three Aussies don’t think that ‘having children is necessary to find fulfilment in life’, a sentiment that sits even higher for females, with 80% of those aged 18-29 disagreeing with the statement.

Contributing to this sentiment are considerations such as the impact on having children on lifestyle, the environment, careers and earning potential. An average 25-year-old woman who has children can expect to earn around $1 million less over her lifetime, compared with a woman without children. With increased chances of conception in later life, as well as a wider variety of ways to become a parent, Gen Y are redefining their family units in both age and diversity.

Carat’s ten commandments for engaging with Gen Y

1. Encourage resilience: Brands need to embody positivity and optimism. Give them the tools and inspiration to make their lives the best they can be.

2. Switch to reset mode: Remind them of  newly found good habits, and urge them to prioritise their goals.

3. Don’t compare to other generations: They had enough of it and are moving on with their lives.

4. Champion balance: Help manage stress by creating opportunities for timeout and ‘Niksen’.

5. Lean into receptivity: Across multiple major categories, Gen Y are actively seeking out advertising messages and information from brands. These aren’t just from ‘fun’ categories like Alcohol and Beauty, but also includes Finance, Telco and Utility categories. Children’s products also index highly, with many of Gen Y excited to spoil their kids.

6. Don’t assume they don’t care: Gen Z tend to be perceived as ‘owning’ causes and purpose-led movements, however most of Gen Y are just as passionate about these societal, environmental and community causes. Gen Y have already fought back against wealth disparities, housing affordability, outdated institutions and other global causes are also in their line of sight. Consider how to talk to this passion within the context of their ‘adulthood’ lives.

7. Emotions matter: Knowing they are receptive to advertising is one thing, but ensuring your message cuts through is another: emotion is the major factor in their decision making, with Gen Y leaning less on a rational or factual approach to purchases.

8. Lead with influence: Gen Y are open to getting more intimate with brands and networks, engaging with content, talent and experiences over standard ad placements. Aligning with sport or major events cause this generation to view brands more favourably. Being a widely social generation, they take notice of reviews, sponsorships, integration and ratings within their favourite channels and programs.

9. Have one-on-one conversations: Gen Y are more receptive to one-on-one channels, where they feel like a part of the content, so consider how you speak differently to one Gen Y vs all of them. For example, podcasts, YouTube, gaming and any form of entertaining storytelling allow a more intimate conversation with a brand.

10. Say no to nuclear: Reflect today’s diverse family structures in marketing.


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