Today’s consumers absorb information differently. Generational differences lead to varying degrees of technological savvy and overall value connections to the product or company itself, meaning similar messages may need to be delivered by different mediums to be successful.

For businesses, multiple communications strategies are necessary.

“In order to scale in today’s business environment and to do that profitably, marketers need to understand individual needs of each consumer segment to engage them into your brand and buy more,” YA CEO Chris Behrens said. “No longer can organizations be one thing to all consumers.”

The 2019 Ignite marketing conference will tackle ever-evolving reality of “Marking to the Generations” at its third annual conference on Thursday, October 3 at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. The event, sponsored by YA and the U of M’s Carlson School of Management, takes place 7:30 am-4 pm and is open to marketing professionals, faculty and students alike. Tickets are available online.

The conversation will feature corporate and recognized academic researchers from the following institutions, helping craft the narrative on why understanding generational tendencies will help companies thrive in today’s 21st Century market.

  • Target Vice President, Marketing Amy Johnston
  • Starbucks Vice President, Brand Marketing Linh Peters
  • Under Armour Vice President Marketing, North America Courtney Carlson
  • EA Director of Global Marketing Strategy Robbie McCawley
  • University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Managing Director and Marketing Faculty David Hopkins
  • University of Minnesota Adjunct Lecturer and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities Vice President, Marketing Amee McDonald
  • University of Minnesota Professor & General Mills Chair Akshay Rao
  • University of California San Diego Professor and Generation Me Owner & Author Jean Twenge

This lineup will provide insights into proven success strategies from Fortune 500 companies while also delving into academic research that supports the work being done in today’s marketplace.

There are currently five generations that have buying power, and those variations of life experiences continue to shape marketers’ strategies with each. This year’s Ignite will shed light on best practices and real-life experiences.

“For each of (our speakers), their ability to change, adapt and target specific needs of each generation is what has made them successful,” Behrens said. “It’s more about how a generation connects and how you connect to them. Research shows younger generations will flock to brands that are more value- and experience-oriented and environmentally-friendly, versus Baby Boomers who are less concerned about the experience and more about the value equation. How you connect from a mass advertising through newspaper and radio to Boomers, and through mobile and social apps or through social advocacy groups for younger generations is extremely important to how they not only connect but relate to the brand.”

Behrens said YA—which is a leader in promotional marketing services through delivering high-impact, data-driven social and mobile promotions—knows generational marketing is critical to their clients’ growth. They first take a consultative and strategic approach to fully understanding their clients’ goals and objectives, then apply solutions to solve those issues and measure outcomes to ensure success.

Ignite annually brings local marketing professionals and students alike to Carlson for a day’s worth of practical learning from top executives and educators from around the country. Now in its third year, Ignite has become a gathering place to learn, meet people within the industry and engage in best practices pertaining to specific topics impacting the marketing world.

For marketing professionals, it’s a way to hear and understand the research and practical implications of solving today’s marketing issues and applying it to their own businesses. For students, it’s a way to prepare and understand what their future employers’ challenges are while learning to apply what they’ve learned when they start their employment.

“It’s also a great way to network,” Behrens said. “Having access to small to mid-sized Fortune 500 brands from a job consideration perspective is exciting.”

The mpls downtown council is annually an Ignite partner. As a member organization comprised of 450 businesses downtown and in the surrounding area, mdc is focused on not only helping local business thrive but also attract and retain top talent from the area. One of its missions in its Intersections: The Downtown 2025 Plan is to forge connections with the University of Minnesota and its students in order to help them thrive in the downtown business community when they graduate.

Behrens said it is extremely important to have that type of role in the community.

“Involving the community through the downtown council and the university to promote education and sharing of information with our clients and partners so we can help them grow benefits the overall community including business, education and government,” Behrens said. “It helps grow jobs downtown and provides access to better opportunities.”

That’s in part why Behrens is an active mdc executive committee member and helps facilitate forging these connections to the U while also spearheading YA’s Ignite sponsorship each year.

“YA continues to invest in Ignite to promote business, education, job growth within the local community and to give back by sharing its success with others to invest in tomorrow,” he said. “We do this through people and education that promotes job growth and access to other opportunities.”

This year’s Ignite participants will leave with new perspective and insights on how to approach five generations of buying power.

“You can’t be one thing to all people,” Behrens said. “You need to understand the needs of each generation and then differentiate your approach to each segment to engage them into your brand.”