Your next big thing: Growth market - Generation Y

Written by Eleanor Beaton

The boomers’ little kids are almost all grown up. Members of Generation Y — a.k.a. the “millennials” or “echo boomers” born from 1977 to 1994 — will number 9.2 million in Canada by 2011. As this tech-savvy group enters the workforce, there’s growing opportunity to help them complete the transition to adulthood.

Financial advice

The echo boomers are a plan-for-the-future bunch who admit they need better financial education. Yet, a KPMG study shows 78% of financial professionals in 17 countries, including Canada, ignore them as potential clients. And while they might not have much money to invest — yet — there’s an opening to recraft the standard payment-on-investment model to be Gen Y-friendlier. You could pitch fee-based consulting services jointly to Gen Y and those they often make decisions and co-purchases with: their parents. Skeptical Gen Yers would sooner trust family and friends than a consultant, so you could use referral programs to build a Gen Y client base for your own financial-advisory firm or sell referral-marketing expertise to other firms that are struggling to understand the young. Or you could marry financial education with the social media Gen Yers are so at home in by creating a financial-services website for them to share tips on investing, saving for a down payment or getting the best rate on a loan.

Career counselling

Risk-averse yet self-assured, Gen Yers are keen to find a fulfilling, career-enhancing job. “They want guarantees and security, not trial and error,” says Neil Howe, author of Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. Services to demystify job hunting and career planning, such as fee-based career counselling, could do well. Just be sure the advice dispensed comes from Gen Yers themselves, warns Mike Farrell, chief strategic officer at Youthography, a youth marketing firm in Toronto: “They want things by them and for them.” That means hiring Gen Y staff and making it easy for clients, say via your website, to share career dos and don’ts. Another possible hit is a youthcentric HR consultancy to help employers integrate Gen Yers with radically different ideas of what work should be (i.e., collaboration and mentorship are in; hierarchy and bosses are out).

Socially concious suppliers

Worldly and informed, Gen Yers put heavy emphasis on corporate, social and environmental ethics. Half the people 19 to 29 surveyed by Youthography said buying green products is important to them, 35% prefer Canadian-made products and 36% buy organic and locally sourced goods where possible.

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