Generation-Y women discover new brands and get most of their style inspiration and product recommendations from blogs and social media, according to a recent research report from PopSugar Media and Radar Research.

The “Why Y Women” report (pdf),  which examined both the sphere of influence and generational differences between Gen X and Y women also revealed that two-thirds (67%) of Generation X women say that Generation Y women make up the most influential age group when it comes to defining trends in popular culture.

Y Women ‘Major’ Force

According to PopSugar Media, study results suggest that Generation Y women are a major force in determining cultural trends and setting the pace for style. An overwhelming 92% of Gen Y women consider their generation to be the trend leader.

Gen Y women are also influential brand advocates, the research found. When they discover a brand they love, 61% say they “share it with as many friends as possible,” and they are likely to share it across a spectrum of platforms, including email, social networks, online reviews, blog comments, SMS/MMS, phone, and face-to-face. They are twice as likely to use online social networking sites to share their recommendations than Gen X women (28% vs. 15%).Survey results also suggest that Gen Y women are more brand loyal than many may assume. The research found that Gen Y and Gen X on virtually on par in this area (79%  vs. 84%), though the level of brand loyalty varies by category.

Gen Y women trust blogs

Gen Y women trust on line reviews and blogs

Peer Group Redefined

How Gen-Y women define their peer group also is a significant change from previous generations. The study found that it not only includes their “real-life’ friends but also online friends, blog writers, anonymous reviewers, Twitter followers, and other participants in online communities – many whom they may have never met. As a result, this generation has a wider network of connections than Gen X women.

Blogs and Social Media as Cultural Influencers

Blogs and social media, rather than traditional media, have emerged as key trusted and inspirational sources for Gen Y to discover brands and products, the research found.  Nearly twice as many Gen-Y women than Gen-X women say they rely on blogs to influence their decisions to buy a product (28% vs. 16%). Twice as many Gen Y women than Gen X women report they discovered a new brand or product from a friend’s status update on a social networking site (42% vs. 22%).

Consumption of new media, such as blogs, reinforce Gen Y women’s perception of themselves as more individualistic than earlier generations. This generation of women cites blogs as being more accessible, more likely to be honest, on the cutting edge, and more likely to know about trends first. They also believe the “commentor community” on blogs is very important. Gen-Y women say they often find new ideas about websites and products from other readers’ comments on blogs.

Context is Vital

Not surprisingly, Gen-Y women are very media savvy and conscious of attempts to market to them and are not easily swayed to action by advertising, either offline or online. While they aren’t likely to click on an online ad, they are influenced by advertising messages and are highly aware of brand messages online, such as in online magazines, search engines, blogs, social networking sites, and even ads. When asked if they’ve ever discovered a new product via an online ad they saw but didn’t click on, almost two in five (38%) reported they did.

The study’s findings, according to PopSugar, demonstrate that context is vital when it comes to brand perception and advertising and largely determines trust in a brand.

“The results of this study underscore how much marketers must think and act differently when addressing this generation of women online. It shows they want to be addressed as individuals, they can be skeptical of marketing messages, and they are inundated by media and advertising,” said Brian Sugar, founder and CEO of Sugar, Inc. “As this study and our experience proves, it’s crucial for brands to create a trusted relationship and earn their loyalty through honest dialogue about their brand. Once they have a personal connection to a brand, Gen Y women will be passionate advocates and ambassadors. Our goal has been to work closely with brands to help facilitate that relationship.”

Sugar added that context matters a great deal to Gen Y women, and recommended that marketers be very selective about the sites they advertise on and avoid mass-reach network buys they cannot control.

Moreover, because Gen-Y women rarely click on online adds, using click-through as a metric of campaign success is not effective. Instead, Sugar suggests using multiple digital touch points that are interactive but non-intrusive, to offer opportunities to  engage with brands. These might be contests, games, custom integrated content, and discounts and incentives for attention.

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