Saturday, May 12, 2012

Marketing to Gen Y: A Social Commerce Experiment by Chevrolet

This is a continuation of the report presented by Glen Urban in the 2011 Innovations in Management Conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Generation Y, the group of people born from the late 1980s to the year 2000, is a leading adopter of social networks. In fact, one could say that social networking is a defining factor for Generation Y – or Gen Y, for short. Social networks are the core of the social fabric of this generation, whose members share every important moment of their lives with each other by posting photos and videos online and by tweeting about them.

It is, therefore, very important that we know how to market to this group.

Chevrolet, in an effort to boost its presence in social commerce, has released an application targeted to Gen Y consumers. Instead of showing static advertisements or video clips, Chevrolet engaged the market by allowing them to design their dream car through an interactive online application, aptly called DreamCar. Its tagline: “Bring it to life.”

In the DreamCar application, users were given multitudes of options to choose from to create the vehicle of their dreams. Aside from the physical aspects of the vehicle (body type, shape, etc.), users were also given more specific customization options, such as the style of the vehicle – for instance, you could choose whether you want an environment-friendly car, a classy businessperson-type sedan, or an on-the-go-parent sort of vehicle, among several other options.

During the designing process, the user is exposed to car reviews, company websites, and blogs that the user may be interested in viewing.

Once users are finished creating their dream cars, the app goes one step further: it encourages the users to share their newly designed vehicles through their social networks. This not only lets the users show off the car of their dreams; it also allows them to get connected with other users who have selected similar car styles (e.g., “Here are other on-the-go parents and their cars”), make comments and suggestions on the other users’ cars, and give star ratings.

Then, just to make sure users are really 100% engaged, Chevrolet also holds a contest on the app for the best-designed car. The winner, of course, gets a new car!

So what does this application do for Chevrolet? A lot.

First, it keeps the brand Chevrolet in the minds of the people using the app, not just by letting the users design their dream cars, but more so, by creating a community of members that engage with one another, all under the Chevrolet brand. This increases people’s consideration of Chevrolet.

Second, the app takes full advantage of social media to spread positive information about Chevrolet. The blogs displayed within the app also play a role, as blogs in general provide trusted information. In this case, they provide trusted positive information about Chevrolet.

Finally, the app implicitly suggests that Chevrolet understands the needs and lifestyles of their consumers. It sends the message that no matter what you need in your car, Chevrolet can provide it.

The days of television as the king of advertising are numbered. TV, with its passive delivery model, does not work for Gen Y – it’s not engaging enough. Gen Y needs something that is more interactive, engaging, personalized, and social. This is the type of marketing that will be required to market to Gen Y.
                                                                                                Yash Talreja, Independent Consultant. 

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