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As part of an event business plan that I am currently writing, I have had to include as with any normal plan, a section on ‘The Target Market’ – a phrase so common in today’s plethora of mass communication that it’s hard to find a brand that you’re not a target of. And yet it led me on to research different ‘customer types’ and the whole range of assumptions and stereotypes (based on market research of course) that are associated with those types. For example, ‘Generation Y’ – loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1995, the children of the post war ‘baby bloomers’, they make up approximately 15.9% of the total UK population, have an increased familiarisation and acceptance of technology, spend 549 minutes sleeping per day and are much less likely to get married than other adults. I find myself thinking, says who?! And yet already, I can see that I fit nicely into their box.

The latest term to arrive on the scene is ‘Generation I’ – those who have grown up in a world where the Internet has always existed and Apple is King. Although being born in 1987 would put me firmly in the Generation Y category, I can honestly say I can’t remember a time where the Internet didn’t exist. And it got me thinking about what people actually did before it’s arrival in the early 90’s. If I don’t know something, the first place I look is Google. Similarly, if I want to buy a product, or listen to music, or talk to my friends or watch a video…I always use the Internet. But is this a common behaviour amongst others or more to the point, a healthy one? In a world where the Mark Zuckerberg’s rule all, is this lack of human interaction a positive step forward for mankind or a case of technology hindering progression? Are we not just one step away from a robot state?

From a marketing perspective, the invention of the Internet and more recently social media and Web 2.0 platforms have undoubtedly revolutionised the potential for reaching new untapped markets and spreading your brands message across the globe. But how can marketers move on from here? With more and more brands getting on the social media band wagon, a once relatively untapped resource has now become awash with communication strategies and sales pitches, which for the average user becomes annoying very quickly. And yet, if they are wanting to stay in touch with whole generation’s of Y’s and I’s, then this is what they need to continue to do.

A lot of companies are currently favouring an integrated communications strategy which encompasses the use of social media and the Internet but also includes more standard marketing methods such as flyering, PR and publicity, press releases and posters. And I personally think this is definitely what the future of marketing should look like. Brands at the minute seem so focussed on reaching an online market that they’re forgetting about the average punter on the street. The same can be said for personal communications as well – gone are the days of picking up the phone and calling someone if you want something, or relying on anything but your Facebook page to remember people’s birthdays (I recently wrote on a friend’s wall ‘Facebook tells me it’s your birthday’ in sheer rebellion against the lack of social etiquette these days – what’s wrong with a nice card?! I then laughed when I subsequently went to buy a card and found one that said ‘Happy Birthday Facebook (but not actual) Friend!’)

The world just seems to have gone a little online crazy and although a firm subscriber and advocate of the Internet, I think it’s about time young people actually went out and interacted with each other! Instead of finding out your friend’s been dumped via Facebook, or following someone you find attractive on Twitter, why not actually have a real life conversation with someone and step outside the world of introverted communication?

And so in answer to my own tweet – I think the difference between Generation Y and I is that knowing what it was like to not have the Internet, may not be such a bad thing after all! The Internet is a great marketing tool and offers a whole world of possibilities to companies, but I for one am going to make a point of getting out there and speaking to people this summer about the projects I’m helping to market and I’m hoping other’s will do the same!

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