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Young Gen Y Doesn’t Want to Be Friends

Free Mall Girls Riding on The Escalator Creative Commons
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

Brands flocking to Facebook in order to connect with young consumers got some bad news last week from Forrester Research. According to a new report authored by Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester’s Consumer Insights Analyst, a mere 6 percent of 12 to 17 year olds wants to be friends with a brand on Facebook. The percentage increases to 12 percent of 18 to 24 year olds wanting to be friends with a brand.

According to Anderson, “Many brands are looking to social media as a strong digital channel to communicate with these consumers. But research shows that it is important to consider more than just consumers’ propensity to use a specific channel. Almost half of 12 to 17 year olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”

There is a silver lining for brands. Although young Gen Y’ers may not want to be friends, 74 percent of them are using “social networks to talk about products with friends and make recommendations.” Are you listening to them?

Why TOMS Shoes and Gen Y Bode Well for our Future

Emily's new shoes

Emily's new shoes

Yesterday I took my 14 year old daughter Emily to the mall and bought her a new pair of navy blue flats from TOMS Shoes that she has been wanting for a while. Emily wanted these shoes because as she told me “they are really cute and comfortable” and she likes that for every pair of TOMS that you buy the company pledges to give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. According to the TOMS website :

  • A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.
  • Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.
  • Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential.

The company said that as of April 2010 over 600,000 pairs of shoes had been given away to children in need.

The popularity of  TOMS  shoes and their “One to One ” program among Generation Y –roughly those born in the 1980s and 1990s and 77 million strong–  bodes well for our future. According to marketing and demographic research, Generation Y cares deeply about causes especially involving world issues and the environment. And, as reported by Joel Kotkin in his article for Newsweek titled “400 Million People Can’t Be Wrong” :

Between 2000 and 2050 the U.S. population aged 15 to 64—the key working and school-age group—will grow 42 percent, while the same group will decline by 10 percent in China, nearly 25 percent in Europe, and 44 percent in Japan.

Looks like Generation Y has the heart and the mass to lead us into the future. I for one hope they keep their passion as they age.