GenY – Is Content Still King?

According to an attitudinal research study completed by Resonate Research, 18-34 year olds purchasing behaviors are influenced by both the products value, the aspirational aspect of a product’s brand message, and also by it’s “cool” factor.

From the press release:

This group is more passionate about social issues like energy (36% more than the 35 plus online population), climate change (48% more) and animal rights (24% more). However, in general they are 15% – 25% less likely to make purchase decisions based on their issues of importance. Instead they look to products for external validation, meaning they buy products that convey and reward their success and personal achievement. When compared to the 35 plus online population, 18 – 34 year olds are more likely to purchase based on the following brand attributes: innovation, looks, popularity and prestige. In fact, they are five times more likely than their elders to purchase a product that is viewed as prestigious, and over twice as likely to buy a popular product or a product that is aesthetically appealing.


Similar to the older generation they do buy products based on value, function and quality, however these products also need to fulfill their image conscious desires. Brands need to strike a balance between messaging a product’s value while also highlighting product attributes that are perceived to enhance a consumer’s image and prestige. However, while they do not initially seek products that advertise the issues that are important to them, once a product meets the value or image balance they are looking for, they will pay more for that product.  Examples of these are companies that contribute a certain percent of their revenue to rebuilding a devastated area or feeding the hungry.

“Resonate’s research reveals a tremendous amount of insight on this particular demographic, which is traditionally difficult to pin down. This group is focused on quality products that also exhibit their success to others,” said Bryan Gernert, CEO of Resonate. “In order to effectively engage 18 – 34 year-olds, marketers must understand the values and attitudes that drive their purchase decisions and develop the right messaging and ads to connect with them. Resonate not only knows what influences these consumers purchase decisions, we also know where to reach the various sub segments of this group online.”

Understanding the importance of message specific advertising based on the various product strength as well as consumer values and attitudes will help brand marketers engage 18-34 year old consumers more effectively.

Recommendations for marketers include:

  • Align your brand’s values with the values of the various sub segments of this group
  • Primary messaging should focus on personal achievement attributes and value, not price point
  • If possible, secondary messaging should mention corporate responsibility efforts
  • Segment your audience based on their values and customize messaging accordingly