Win Gen Y’s Trust via Experiential Marketing 2.0

You’ve heard the statistics before…

Gen Y doesn’t trust advertisements; we trust the people in our social networks.  But overall, Gen Y doesn’t trust much at all.  If you’re a big company of any kind, you will have to work much harder to win over the 70 million Gen Y consumers living among us.

How Should Marketers gain Gen Y’s trust?

Well, besides Corporate Social Responsibility, you’ll need to prove your brand to us.  Let us touch it, try it and talk about it.  And let us hear about it and experience it from “real” people. In order to gain our trust, you’ll need to focus on experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing 2.0 means offering your product or service to the right people at the right time. A simple example is the nice lady at the grocery store who hands you a sample of fantastic cheese spread while you are exiting the cracker aisle.  Do that online. 

Technically, paid search campaigns attempt to reach the right customer at the right time. When I Google “smart phone” for example, paid ads for Sprint, Verizon, ATT, and Apple appear. There is one huge problem though:  a vast majority of Gen Y consumers will never look at, trust, or click on sponsored results.

Nor will most Gen Y’ers take the time to go through each of the companies’ websites.  We like instant gratification and that takes way too long. Plus, we’d much prefer to read a short aggregated review of the phones on a blog and buy based on a “real” person’s opinion anyways. 

Here are some ways that companies have used experiential marketing to catch me at the right moment and convert me into a customer.

  • WalMart.comI thought hell would freeze over before I bought any furniture from Wal-Mart (and then blogged about it) but I did.  And I love my $99 kitchen table.  Why? Because I knew exactly what I was buying before I bought it. had great multi-view pictures, tons of honest reviews and they were willing to ship the product to my local Wal-Mart for free so I could see it before I brought it home.  
  • GrouponGroupon is the best way to experience something that you never would have tried thanks to HUGE discounts on local products and services.  If I were a marketer, I’d make sure my stuff was on Groupon so people could experience it with for little risk, talk about it and experience it again.
  • A long time ago I sent out a frustrated tweet saying “can anyone in the Chicago area help me with WordPress?!” Matt responded immediately with a friendly (and calm!) tweet saying he could help me.  He caught me in the right place, at the right time.  He gained my trust.  We are now close friends and I refer people to him all the time.
  • “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Best Value.”
  •, YouTube demos, Ulta.  Worst hair cut of my life + obsession with Ulta + panic = temporary solution via J-Simp’s “Hair-Do.”

Readers, where have companies presented themselves to you at the right moment?

What’s the best example of experiential marketing you’ve seen?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.

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