When Gen-Y Doesn’t Buy, You Have a Choice—Adapt or Die

Text - Y Not

What happens when the next generation is not interested in your product?

A thought-provoking article (“The Cheapest Generation“) in the September edition of The Atlantic explains how Millennials (Generation Y) are not interested in buying cars or homes. Let’s imagine for a second, they don’t want your product either.

What do you do?

You have three choices:

  1. Adapt
  2. Give them new reasons to be interested
  3. Fold

Folding isn’t much of a choice, so let’s look at the other two.


Ford tried to get the young market excited first (giving the market new reasons to be interested), by rolling out a fun little Fiesta and giving the car away to Gen-Y bloggers. Sales spiked at first and then bottomed out. Kids don’t want to buy cars. What next?

Next, they got smart and paid attention to what this audience wanted and what they were already doing. Ford’s research found Gen-Y was more into sharing rides. With this knowledge, Ford contracted to provide cars for Zipcar, with the thought that once this audience is ready to buy cars, they’ll be more familiar with and more likely to choose Ford cars.

Television and cable are facing similar issues right now. That’s why you see televisions turning into giant computer screens—“Smart TVs.” As for the major players in cable and fiber optic providers, they are still trying to figure it out.

Adapting, though it may cost you financially and be uncomfortable at first, is actually the easy part. Finding new reasons for this market to buy is much harder.

Give new reasons to be interested

Marketers are used to having to create interest, but now you must be better than ever at giving people more reasons—new reasons—to be interested in your product. How do you do this?

You can’t just come up with reasons. This is important—Your reasons they should want your product don’t matter.

What are the reasons your audience would want your product?

First figure out why the audience does not want your product. Do some market research and then ask and answer these questions:

  • What are the advantages to them for their choice?
  • What does the product or avenue they chose instead have as an advantage over your product?
  • Can you conquer that advantage? How?
  • How do you convince them of that?

I can’t give you the answers. You have to do the work to find that out yourself. But I have given you the right questions to ask, and that’s a start.

Just remember, you’re looking at this from your audience’s perspective. Can you think of any more questions to ask?

Has Nike Found Its Greatness? Not Yet in This Ad Campaign

I’ll admit, when the U.S. women’s soccer team put on their Nike “Greatness has been found” t-shirts immediately after winning the gold medal match at the Olympics, I didn’t like it.

I felt it was rude to the losing team (Japan), and I thought the slogan was obnoxious.

My mind hasn’t changed about the women’s soccer team putting on their shirts, but I have found an appreciation for Nike’s campaign. Maybe you have too?

If you haven’t yet seen the “chubby kid” commercial (starring regular kid Nathan Sorrell) drawing both praise and criticism all over the Web, here it is:

“Find your greatness.”

Meh. It’s kind of a dull slogan. In context, however, it’s super-positive and could be used well by Nike to help boost teen/youth self-esteem.

Bullying is such a major issue these days, and our kids need positive messages and role models to believe in. That’s why I love this ad.

Kids need to know they’re great—just by being born, they are fantastic. Heck, many adults still need to know this too.

Sorrell’s “Jogger” ad goes very well with Nike’s Mark Cavendish ad—the message within his is that despite the negative things people said, he found success. He used their words as motivation.

Kids need to know that other people’s words do not determine their future or their worth.

If anything, I think the criticism of the “Find Your Greatness” campaign should be that it doesn’t go far enough.

In their press release introducing this campaign, Nike doesn’t even seem to understand the potential for this campaign’s greatness. Greg Hoffman, Nike VP of Brand Design & Communications, said:

The idea behind ‘Find Your Greatness’ is simply to inspire and energize everyday athletes everywhere to celebrate their achievements, participate and enjoy the thrill of achieving in sport at their own level.

Nike is such a powerful company, this campaign could be so much more. They have sharing aspects in place, but the social sharing seems to be focused more on Nike tools than on social good.

And that’s fine. It’s completely their own prerogative, but I just wish they used these ads and social sharing as just a start. Team up with schools and turn part of it into a drive to:

  • Reduce obesity in kids
  • Counter bullying in schools and on playgrounds
  • Boost self-esteem in youth and teens

The possibilities here seem too good to pass up. Nike does have a history of supporting kids and communities, so hopefully, they will use “Find Your Greatness” as another way to help even more.

Or, if Nike’s not up to the challenge, maybe schools and parents can use this message to start helping kids on their own.

What about you? Any ideas on how to make this “great” campaign even better?

Olympic Advertisements: And The Medals Go To…

The Olympics are over, so it’s time to award medals for the top three Olympic-themed commercials.

Bronze Medal

My choice here will probably surprise you. I’m giving the Bronze medal to Fruit of the Loom for their series of ads. The beauty of these ads is the simplicity—“You move. It moves with you.”

It’s a lovely series highlighting the same type of body control and movement that elite athletes must have. Here are three from that series–Rings, Trampoline and Backflip:

Silver Medal

The silver medal goes to an unusual contestant in this year’s ad Olympics—a movie trailer. This Paranorman video is laugh-out-loud funny! Paired with what I think is audiotape of actual gymnastics announcing, it draws you in immediately.

I have to say, a movie I knew very little about just made me want to see it. If that same humor and creativity runs throughout the movie, it should be a hit.

Gold Medal

And the gold medal goes to AT&T with Ryan Lochte in “Warming Up.”

I’m sure many of you are shocked that I didn’t include any of Proctor & Gamble’s commercials. But, in my eyes, P&G ran the same types of ads in the previous Olympic Games.

AT&T’s ad gave me goose bumps. See for yourself.

“Luck doesn’t get you to the Olympic Games. You can’t wish your way onto the podium. You can’t buy it or hope for it. It’s not enough to dream about it. Luck didn’t get me to London. I swam here.”

One minute long and that’s all that’s said. Every line is true. Every line is important. It’s perfect in words and images. After all, what’s harder than swimming in the ocean?

I only included ads I saw, which aired in the United States. I found another winner made for Adidas in Great Britain. What a way to pump up a nation!

So, that’s it. If you disagree, feel free to mention which ads you would give medals to and why. Maybe you can change my mind.

Rules are Rules, Right? Not If You Want to Keep Your Customers Happy

Marketers, business owners, retailers and service professionals should know, it’s the little things that count. Making exceptions is sometimes the rule if you want to serve your customers well.

Zappos knows this. With their extreme focus on providing the best customer service possible, they don’t let any little things stand in the way of a positive customer experience. You can see how committed CEO Tony Hsieh is in the video below. In it, he even explains why they will help a customer buy through a competitor at times.

Banana Republic (at least my store) does not seem to quite understand this type of customer-focused philosophy.

Banana Republic Loses Appeal

Much of my wardrobe is from Banana. I shop at the outlet store near me and get fantastic deals. Plus, most important, their clothes fit my style and my long legs. In short, I am a fan.

On Friday, I hurried up there so I could take advantage of the 30-percent-off coupon I got through e-mail. I knew my weekend was busy, so I squeezed in a visit because I still needed more business and interview wear.

I found a ton of stuff! When I went to check out—waiting patiently I might add for a solid five minutes or more while one customer had a problem sorted out and another opened a charge account. No problem, I noticed belts and found the dressy brown belt I’ve been needing. Productive waiting—not bad.

My turn came and I handed the coupon over only to be told I couldn’t use it. The coupon was only good for August 4 and 5. My bad. I honestly thought that Friday was the 4th. Who can keep track anymore? The cashier gave me a choice:

  • I could buy the items and come back over the weekend with the coupon for a credit;
  • I could place the items on hold and come back the next day with the coupon to purchase them; or
  • I could open up a Banana Republic credit card account and get 30 percent off my order right then.

After a bit of conversation I asked, “Isn’t there any way you can give me the discount right now?” I did make an honest mistake, which was quite obvious by the look on my face when she told me I couldn’t use the coupon.

Turns out the cashier was also the manager. Even the manager can’t make an exception? Come on now. I’ve been a retail manager. I know it can be done.

The kicker is that she could give me the discount, but only if I opened a Banana Republic credit card. That’s what makes it so aggravating.

You cannot buy something in a store these days without someone trying to get you to open a credit card account. Irresponsible and annoying. Does no one learn lessons from our recent economic turmoil? These stores care more about their credit card promotions than they do their customers. Some stores even announce how many applications leading associates got as a sort of competition among the employees. Ever ask yourself what customers think of those announcements?

But I digress.

Notice how the burden of all those choices were on me? Three of the choices included an extra trip back—a huge inconvenience when I already had plans for the weekend. The fourth choice involved me adding another card to my credit report, wasting my time and the waiting customers’ time so I can give the proper information so Banana Republic can make out.

What were they willing to do for me—a regular customer? Nothing.

Do You Know How Your Customers Feel?

So, here’s the result. I felt very disappointed with my favorite store. I felt lied to and patronized by the manager (whether she was doing both or not doesn’t matter—this is how she made me feel).

Driving back the next day, I felt even worse. Yes, it’s my own fault for screwing up the dates, but the manager had a choice to do something about it and chose not to. I will remember that.

As she had to re-enter every item over again, I said to her, “See, it would’ve been easier for both of us, if you had just given me the discount yesterday.” I hope she realized how true that is and chooses differently for someone else next time.

Will I stop shopping at Banana Republic? Probably not. It’s hard for me to find clothes that fit. But, I won’t be in a rush to go back and will most likely check other stores first.

Remember the Little Things

Ask yourself, how does your customer feel after doing business with you? If you don’t know, then ask your customer. You don’t want them walking away feeling like I did.

It’s the little things you do that people remember. Look for opportunities to make your customers feel appreciated in every transaction. It’s worth it, and it’s easy!


Speaking of little things, all retailers should stop putting those sewn in tags on skirts, pants and other clothing. No matter how you remove those cardboard tags, they leave holes. Not good!

Banana Republic tag on a skirt

Holes in skirt left by tag

For the Love of Guy, Help Promote More Than Just Yourself

On Tuesday, I wrote about how author Ann Patchett promotes not only herself but her whole industry, and why you should follow her lead. As I was writing that post, Guy Kawasaki was launching a focused effort to promote the use of Google+.

Guy Kawasaki's photo from the #EvanG+ subscribe page

Guy has been an avid promoter of Google+ since its beginning. After using the site for a few months, he decided to write an e-book about it—What the Plus: Google+ for the Rest of Us. His goal was:

…to help you to derive as much joy and value from Google+ as I do.

Who is this Guy?

So, let me back up for a second. In case you don’t know, Guy Kawasaki is a gregarious darling of the social media world. He’s a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures and the creator of Alltop.com.

Back to “For the Love of Guy”

Now, Guy is recruiting fellow evangelists to help promote Google+, using the tag #EvanG+ to give us some cohesion and visibility.

How It Works

I could tell you how it works, but Guy’s own message explains it better:

You’ll receive an email a few times a week with stuff that I hand picked. I will send only material that I think makes for good posts. In a perfect world, you will take the info in my email, craft a post, and share it with your followers. There are more than 1,500 subscribers after forty eight hours. I figure that the total number of all the followers of subscribers is 3.5 million or so people.

Two suggestions when you post this material:

1. Add a tagline such as: Become a Google+ evangelist by signing up here: http://eepurl.com/n1auX
2. Add the hash tag “#EvanG+”

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, Google is not paying me to do this nor did it come up with the idea. This is something I’m doing out of my love for Google+.

Key Points of Promotion

Note the last sentence above. He is going to all this effort to promote Google+ out of his own love for the site. Will it help Google? For sure. More than 2.5 million people have Guy in their Circles, and he has a little more than 1 million followers on Twitter.

Will his efforts help him? Absolutely, and that’s the whole point I’m trying to make.

Oftentimes, people hesitate to help promote their industry because they don’t want to help benefit their competitors. We live in a more connected world now, people. Those days are over!

I’m not asking you to join the #EvanG+ movement—though it would be great if you did. I’m asking you to be more aware of your surroundings and all the points of your connected network. Start promoting more than just yourself and your business. Promote your industry. Promote things related to your business and industry. If you do this very well, you’ll become know as a thought leader and will likely attract more business as a result.

Who can argue with that?


I started my own promotion venture last Friday. I wanted to find a way to help build a thriving writing community on Google+, so I started +Writing Circle. If you’re a writer—author, poet, screenwriter, playwright, etc.—please follow +Writing Circle.