Buying Power

How to give Generations X and Y what they want.
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This story appears in the September 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Generations X and Y have plenty of differences, but "their fluency with technology has been a defining characteristic for both," says author Lisa Johnson, CEO and co-founder of research and marketing consultancy ReachWomen in Eugene, Oregon. Johnson wrote Mind Your X's and Y's: Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers. Here, she reveals the 10 core cravings of this demographic and which companies are zeroing in on them best.

1. Shine the spotlight: "Extreme personalization gives marketing a new face." Jones Soda offers customized labels, creating customers' very "own" soda.

2. Raise my pulse: "Take mundane categories and infuse them with excitement." Vocation Vacations lets you try your dream job, matching you with someone who's already doing it.

3. Make loose connections: "Social networks [are shaping] buyers' appetites more than ever." Friendships and business contacts are made daily through networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

4. Give out brand candy: "Everyday objects get sharp, intuitive design. We've all seen Target's success. Design is not a competitive edge, but a core strategy."

5. Sift through the clutter: "We're inundated with choices. We need filters to get through the crap." Roll:, a bike store, offers the top picks rather than hundreds of bikes, making shopping less complicated.

6.Keep it underground: "Find a core group; they'll spread the message." Toyota's "underground launch" of Scion to urban trendsetters now has more Gen Y consumers buying Scions than any other car brand.

7. Build it together: "It's all about the power of us connecting to influence change." Online encyclopedia Wikipedia, where users can add and edit data, revolutionized information access.

8. Bring it to life: "Go deeper into the existing experience." Each of The Kimpton Hotel Group's 40 boutique hotels focuses on a particular theme.

9. Go inward: "It's the search for relevance, blended with modern media." Relevant Media Group is a multimedia Christian youth movement whose progressive perspective really draws them in.

10. Give back: "Redefine volunteerism and the meaning of contribution." The Taproot Foundation helps match volunteers with nonprofits, supplying about $14 million in pro bono work since 2001.

Edition: July 2017

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