Platt Retail Institute: Reaching Generation Y through Digital Networks

Jun 05, 2009

By Christoph Harttung, Vice President,
Operations & Productions, Conextmedia

Through a special
arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article
from the Platt Retail Institute’s Quarterly Retail Analytics report.

Online video usage has
exploded over the last few years, with more than 400 million people watching
internet video today, and some one billion predicted by 2012. In communicating
with Generation Ys, video content should be carefully
considered in retail digital signage environments.

Gen-Y’s members are
the first generation to have grown up on the internet. Hard to reach, yet
free-spending, Gen Y people are adapters of the latest technology and trends.
Civic-minded and socially responsible, they value open communication and
are socially networked. They resist reading and increasingly avoid television
in lieu of immediate access to digested information. They are constantly

  • 34
    percent use websites as their primary source of news.
  • 28
    percent own a blog and 44 percent read blogs.
  • 49
    percent download music using peer-to-peer file sharing.
  • 75
    percent of college students have a Facebook account.
  • 60
    percent own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod.

It is therefore increasingly
difficult to market and advertise to this audience through traditional
models. Broadband provides fast load times, thus limiting messaging placement.
On-demand services facilitate skipping or fast-forwarding through commercials.
This is further complicated through an inherent desire of Gen Ys to
make purchase decisions on their own terms by getting information first
and making a decision later.

So how do we reach this
seemingly “unreachable”

Marketers are exploring the use
of rich media and specifically in-store video as an effective way to draw
in this audience, and present messaging in a manner acceptable to Gen Y.
The principle at work is speaking “with” rather than “to” Gen Ys to
quickly establish trust. Once engaged, the marketer should attempt to build
on that trust in a way that respects the Gen Y value set and follows its
decision-making criteria. By “framing” a message within video
the idea is to draw Gen Ys in, and present entertaining and on-point information

Among the key considerations for

  • Highlighting
    what truly differentiates your company, not just products.
  • Providing real,
    useful, relevant and up-to-date information.
  • Considering multiple/alternative
    media to share additional information.
  • Creating
    an integrated plan that reinforces messaging across multiple media and
  • Repurposing interesting marketing
  • Looking
    for opportunities to show your company’s personality.
  • Demonstrating social

Retailers considering the use of
in-store video are advised to invest in content tailored to Gen Y, as well
as provide a network to carefully target audiences with appropriate messaging
and frequency of updates.

Discussion Questions:
How would you rate in-store video as a way to communicate with Gen-Y
consumers? What considerations do you think are critical when “framing” a
message within video to reach the Gen-Y generation?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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6 Comments on "Platt Retail Institute: Reaching Generation Y through Digital Networks"

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Anne Howe
11 years 11 months ago

Most GenY consumers are about the “pull” and get annoyed by too much “push,” making it tricky to blast video at them in the stores. What could be most effective is to get their attention with a videobite of content, but let them add to it with on-the-spot reviews, etc. Maybe by using their mobile device to comment via texting to the video device. That’s truly engaging, albeit somewhat scary for many retailers. But think what they can do to endorse a product or brand if you let them in closer!

Dave Wendland
11 years 11 months ago

Well-done, engaging messaging and streaming video will attract the attention of Gen Y (and others). Time in the store–while in the aisles–is fast becoming the most important and relevant place to reach shoppers. There is too much noise, distraction (and DVRing) to rely on mainstream media. The messages, however, must be personalizable, relevant, and targeted. I truly believe technology has come of age.

Scott Farr
Scott Farr
11 years 11 months ago

This report helps highlight the importance of a multifaceted marketing campaign that embraces multiple mediums to get to the Gen Y consumer. Conversion and conversion management is the key to tying these elements together. Message push in the case of traditional advertising mediums and in-store digital networks remains fundamentally important to inform, create need and promote image.

The report seems to imply the message needs to be short, compelling and steer the consumer to the next campaign step. Measurement of the conversion rates toward the next step “learn more” can be readily attained through interactive mediums whether in-store, on websites or mobile.

Combining these mediums and measuring the performance of these stepped goal driven conversion activities can provide very measurable real time performance data. Campaign not as effective as you hoped? See the performance data in real time and modify the campaign in real time until the planned results are attained.

Marketing to Gen Y could be a blessing disguised as a challenge!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 11 months ago
Does it make you crazy when old folks cluster in a grocery aisle to converse, oblivious to the fact that they’ve stopped cart traffic? Or the helpless mom with three or four little ones blocking an aisle, sometimes with one of those cutesy-but-huge carts that look like a locomotive and are designed to haul children around? Or the shoppers perusing greeting cards, also blocking the aisle? Or the clueless idiots talking on cellphones while shopping, causing traffic jams due to their lack of attention to their surroundings (they’re even worse on the road)? Me, too. So, if in-store video in supermarkets improves and becomes interactive to the point that shoppers stop and get engaged, where will they cluster with their carts to watch the screens? This has always been my concern with in-store video: The better it gets, the worse the traffic congestion. I worked on an in-store video project while with Catalina Marketing, and in the early stages of installation–before the novelty wore off and customers simply began ignoring the screens–we had cluster problems.… Read more »
Jerry Gelsomino
11 years 11 months ago

This is a discussion that continues on and on. I still have my doubts on the value to sales, of multimedia in stores. Wouldn’t be a better investment to put money on hand-held, internet-powered mobile phones to engage and connect with the youth customer, for that matter, any and all customers. If they become a distraction, the person turns it off. If they are interested, they turn it up.

Here in Hong Kong (and with what I have seen so far in China), kids are plugged into their iPods and cell phones and portable games all the time. I have yet to see one installation of the kind of media being suggested here. The largest, flat screen monitors in stores are usually playing videos of fashion runway shows as so much wallpaper.

Rick Boretsky
Rick Boretsky
11 years 11 months ago

In-store video as the draw? I don’t think so. First you have to get them in the store, and that can only be done through the social media markets (where they spend most of their time) and peer-recommendations, which weighs heavily into their decision process.


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