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Gen Y Marketing: An Interview with Anastasia Goodstein

By Rob Frappier

Recently, Experience blogger Rob Frappier was lucky enough to interview Anastasia Goodstein, editor of and author of the book "Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online". Goodstein is an expert on youth culture, trends, and media and is considered an invaluable resource to youth marketers. Check out some of her insights about Gen Y marketing here.

In my neverending quest to find relevant and meaningful content for my blog, I was lucky enough to come across the website Ypulse. The website, run by the highly talented Anastasia Goodstein, is a forum for Teen/Youth media professionals and marketers to learn about the trends and culture of Generation Y. Anastasia, who also writes at Totally Wired, was kind enough to answer some questions I had about Youth Marketing.

RF: There are a lot of names for my generation (Generation Y, Echo-Boomers, etc). Which term do you typically use, and what age range constitutes that group?

AG: I tend to use Generation Y, but mostly just because it fits conveniently with my brand Ypulse. A lot of people are trying to coin their own terms for this generation: Millennials, Echo Boomers, Generation Me, Generation Tech, Net Generation, etc. I'm not really coining my own term, although I use the title of my book, Totally Wired to talk about this generation's use of technology. Typically the age range is people born between 1982-2000. So tweens (7-13), teens and twentysomethings (up to 25).

RF: In your experience dealing with clients, what is it about the teen market that is so appealing?

AG: Young people tend to drive our popular culture, everything from fashion to TV to the latest technology (MySpace) and movies. They are the tastemakers. They have disposable income (allowance or money from working) of their own and influence their parents purchasing decisions on everything from what gadgets to buy to what vacations to take.

According to a 2006 report from the National Retail Federation, 13- to 21-year-olds influence 81% of their families' apparel purchases and 52% of car choices. Plus at 82 million people, it's the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers. What's appealing to me is that youth culture is colorful, humorous and never boring. I think teens are way more creative, articulate and insightful than we give them credit for, and I guess they keep me in touch with my own inner teen, which is important now that I'm 35!

RF: A lot has been written about the emergence of the so-called "Web 2.0". How important is it for marketers to have a presence in online communities such as Facebook, Myspace, Xanga and others?

AG: I think a lot of advertisers have been shifting their spending to the Web for awhile now to reach a younger demographic. Any sites where users could upload their own content (social networking sites, video sites, etc.) are tricky for major brands. They don't want to get too close to content that could potentially be raunchy or just way off-brand and suffer guilt by association. So sites like MySpace and YouTube have created competitions and other "safe" branded environments for major advertisers where this sort of thing won't happen. The other challenge is offering something compelling and of value as an advertiser on a social network. Teens probably won't want to be "friends" with a marketer unless it's a brand they already love or unless that marketer is offering something of real value: free music downloads, exclusive content, etc.

And even when they are, a lot of teens are becoming resentful of marketers on MySpace. There is now so much spam, it's hard to tell the scammers and spammers from legitimate brands.

RF: What are some of the trends you see emerging in Generation Y media? How will this generation be different from its parents' generation in 10 years?

AG: I definitely think this is the first generation that has grown up with the tools to create their own media: blogs, video, podcasts, and even just being able to rate, rank, Digg and comment on media has undermined the traditional media and entertainment hierarchy where a small number of editorial producers create the culture for everyone else's one way media. Now everyone is creating and commenting on the culture. I also see some dangerous trends with this generation being more heavily parented than every before (helicopter parents), and becoming even more individualistic and self focused. I'm reading a book called Generation Me, which uses lots of real research to show this generation is more narcissistic than past generations. The emphasis on becoming famous in most reality TV and popular culture doesn't help, especially when ordinary people are becoming famous (intentionally or not) online. I think this poses a lot of challenges as young people enter the work force and adult relationships.

RF: You have a lot of experience working in many different fields (non-profit, publishing, television production). What advice do you have for current college students or recent graduates about their first job search?

AG: For me, starting my career in the non-profit space, was the way to go. You get way more hands on experience doing everything - fundraising, marketing, program development - and get to feel really good about what you're doing. You won't make a lot of money, which is why it's good to start here, but you will gain invaluable experience. And if your organization has a board of directors, usually made up of a variety of community leaders and professionals, it's a great way to find a mentor.

Spending my first couple of years out of college working at Teen Voices, a non-profit magazine written by teen girls, was like going to start-up school - it was incredibly entrepreneurial and made me crave that type of role when I crossed over to commercial media. Luckily, that happened during the boom, so I had lots more actual start-up experiences!

Rob Frappier will graduate from DePaul University in Spring 2008 with a Bachelor's Degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor degree in Digital Cinema. For all of the fresh news and hot trends in the marketing industry, check out his blog for Experience at .

Anastasia Goodstein is the editor of and author of the book "Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online". Ypulse is an independent blog for teen/youth media and marketing professionals providing news, commentary and resources on commercial teen media.

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