A Psychographic Analysis of Generation Y College Students

Joyce M. Wolburg
Marquette University
and
James Pokrywczynski
Marquette University

Marketers' newest generation – Generation Y – is believed to have unique characteristics that are different from preceding generations. This belief in generational uniqueness is not new: it is rooted in an 80-year history of targeting American youth and searching for insights into their psyche. According to historians Hollander and Germain (1992), marketers as early as in the 1920s recognized the value of the 'youth market' (Giles, 1922), and they regarded the college market as one of the most coveted of all segments (Burns, 1926; Dumont, 1929; George, 1920). According to one source, the reasons are many:

  1. Their sheer size makes college students an important market. 
  2. Students are often put in the role of trendsetters to the thousands of visitors who attend events on college campuses. 
  3. College students acquire preferences for goods and establish brand loyalties that continue long after the college years. Students are expected to attain a high standard of living after graduation. 
  4. College students set examples to the remainder of the population by being more receptive to new products (for example, students tend to be early adopters). 
  5. Students influence parental choices for major purchases (Russell, 1926).