Feb 23, 2009

Get Generation Y to engage with your brand

One of the key complaints about Generation Y is how naïve they are about how business works. There are already concerned discussions happening about Generation Z and how they will transition from the education system to the working world. The younger generations seem to be hugely unprepared for the life that awaits them upon exit of the education system, often to the dismay of employers who have to foot the enormous bill to fill this skills void.  There is a need to create transparency and visibility so that expectations are matched on both sides.

In our previous blog we left you with the story of Electronic Arts, which has a Facebook page to attract and recruit the iGeneration, onto which student Mohammed Elnaiem asked for advice about which university to attend in order to increase his chance of getting a job with EA.

This signals the eagerness of Generations Y and Z to prepare for their future, but also the distinct lack of relevant career advice or training provided by education institutions – thus defeating the object of education. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Some businesses have taken to doing presentations inside schools, or sponsoring excellent candidates (much like the British ARMY sponsoring graduates through their university degree with the guarantee of a recruit after graduation).  However, this conjures up futuristic images of ‘Google/ Goldman Sachs-sponsored children’s school blazers’ – which we don’t believe is the way forward.

The answer to the dilemma is for employers, rather than waiting until students are in their final year of university before trying to attract and train them, is to get involved with this population early on, engaging them in captivating experiences (to which they can contribute), which in turn may encourage them to tailor their educational choices towards a future career with your brand. A recent example is Nokia’s ‘Dreams Workshops’, which engages children globally in ‘sustainability’ events, designed to improve life skills and raise environmental awareness. So far Nokia has reached over 30,000 young people – that’s 30,000 potential employees worldwide.

Previously we have mentioned Coca-Cola’s efforts and another example of where this has worked is the iPhone applications:  within 6 months of the launch of the Apple iPhone 10,000 ‘collaborators’ had created third-party applications for the mobile device.  Most recently a 9 year old boy created one! (Thomson Reuters).

Establishing an early (experiential) relationship with potential consumers and employees, will both reduce the high training costs upon entry into the business, and greatly increase loyalty in the long term. It’s a win-win situation that can be created for any business.

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