Analyses - August 16, 2007



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August 2007


Print Customer segments,

Spotlight on Generation Y

Although the definition can vary, the term “Generation Y” generally refers to people born between 1978 and 1989, or those aged 18 to 29. Whether you call them Echo Boomers or Generation Y, they are without doubt a major, surprisingly different, customer segment. However, does Quebec’s Generation Y travel? If so, what are its favourite activities when travelling, and in general? What is the best way to appeal to these complex new consumers weaned on technology?

Profile of the Echo Boomer market segment

In 2005, Generation Y represented 20.3% of the Quebec population 18 years and over. They account for a similar proportion of the travel market, constituting 18.8% of the province’s domestic travellers and 19.5% of its international travellers during the past year.
According to the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), 42% of young Quebeckers in Generation Y have travelled within Canada in the past year, while the rate is 46% among the entire population aged 12 years and over (Table 1). Nearly one-third of them made at least one trip within Quebec and 10% visited Ontario.


Table 2 lists the most popular international destinations among Generation Y travellers in the past three years, noting the percentage of those who made at least one trip to each destination, as compared to the entire Quebec population. Though this demographic group visited the Northeast United States and France in greater numbers than did the overall Quebec population, it was not as fond of Cuba as other customer segments were.

Figure 1 illustrates the percentage of young people aged 18 to 29 who take part in certain activities while travelling in Canada, compared to the number of participants from the overall Quebec population. Members of Generation Y are more likely to practise sports activities, hiking and skiing, and engage in shopping and nightlife than other travellers. However, they are less likely to attend cultural activities like museums, art galleries and events.

Here are some more pertinent facts taken from the PMB with regard to the travel behaviour of Quebec Generation Y travellers in Canada:

  • 85% travel by car, 9% by bus and 10% by plane
  • 78% travel for only a few days, 22% for one week and only 7% for two to three weeks
  • their favourite type of accommodation is with friends and family (40%), followed by hotels (34%), motels (18%), campgrounds (18%), cottages (17%) and, rarely, B&Bs (5%)

When travelling outside the country:

  • 41% travel for a few days, 44% for one week, 27% for two to three weeks and 12% for one to two months
  • 76% travel by plane, 36% by car and 10% by bus

Other than their favourite activities while travelling, what interests this clientele? What are its favourite hobbies and leisure activities? Figure 2 illustrates the percentage of this generation that engaged in various sports and leisure activities over the past year.

Compared to the overall population, young people aged 18 to 29 have a higher participation rate in a greater number of sports and activities (cycling, dance, photography, running, canoeing, amusement parks, etc.). Nightlife is especially popular, with 46% of young people having gone out to bars in the last year.

As illustrated in Figure 3, some Quebec events are quite popular with young people in Generation Y: for example, 15% attended the Montréal International Jazz Festival last year. Other Quebec attractions are popular too, with one out of five Quebeckers aged 18 to 29 having visited La Ronde, a proportion that is twice that of the overall Quebec population.

Looking beyond the numbers

With personalities and behaviours that differ from those of preceding generations, Echo Boomers are a challenge for the companies who would like to attract them. However, they are not unreachable, and the following information may help you understand them better.

  • For this generation, travel offers a sense of accomplishment and pleasure; it is a tool of personal development, a way to discover new lands and an enriching experience, both personally and socially. Traditional sightseeing activities, guided tours and museums are not attractive to them. They prefer adventure tourism, sports tourism, the latest forms of entertainment and outdoor activities.
  • Professionally, the children of Baby Boomers do not want to be like their parents. While the latter are often workaholics, Generation Y aims for a better balance between work, family and one’s personal life. Not particularly loyal employees, these people look for work that they can be passionate about, rather than something stable and well paid. They do not like hierarchical organizations.
  • Though often big consumers, they are also savvy, experienced buyers. As a customer segment, they are demanding and hard to predict. Because they often have limited budgets and many have a high debt ratio, the quality-price ratio is key to them (they often travel with only one credit card). In addition, they are very skilled at searching the Web for the ideal destination and price. The Internet now offers tremendous information transparency and Generation Y is certainly the generation that takes full advantage of this.
  • Technology is part and parcel of their lives and the internet holds few secrets for them; they navigate easily and confidently, whether searching for information or making online reservations.
  • Unlike other customer segments, Echo Boomers are not afraid of innovation. On the contrary, they enjoy surprises, adapt quickly, and like to get off the beaten path to discover new horizons, new destinations and new activities.
  • In terms of marketing, it is vital to remember that they have been immersed in advertising since birth and, as a result, are less sensitive to it or even immune. Therefore, they can be difficult to reach through traditional media and more easily reached through the internet. However, viral marketing, search engine referencing and online public relations are more effective than conventional advertising banners. Furthermore, the advent of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook means that marketing efforts must “listen” in order to identify, target and reach Generation Y. Members of this generation like to talk about themselves and their lives (their trips, friends, photos, etc.) on personal pages and blogs.
  • Remember that they share a lot. Thanks to social websites, cell phones, online chatting and Skype, they are instantly up to date with whatever their friends are doing, no matter where or when. This is why well-executed viral marketing campaigns can be so effective.
  • The most powerful hook for them is probably a sense of humour, or even sarcasm. Strategies that can make them (and their friends) laugh will win points. Some marketing campaigns have used humour to great effect, even with limited budgets.

In short, they are skilled negotiators, ambitious and nonchalant, and they question everything. They are also wholehearted hedonists, sensitive to the fate of the planet and keen to learn more about the world. Full of ideas, these people are inspiring.


– Print Measurement Bureau, 2007.
– Renaud, Jean-François. “Le Web de la génération Y”, Adviso, conseil + stratégies, 7 décembre 2005.
– Hira A., Nadira. “You Raised Them, Now Manage Them”, Fortune, 28 mai 2007.
– “The Children of the Web”, Business Week, 2 juillet 2007.
– Ramsay, Charles-Albert. “Fallait y penser: un nouvel emploi chaque semaine?”, Les Affaires, 7 juillet 2007.
– Canning, Simon et Lara Sinclair. “End of the Love-in”, The Australian, 20 octobre 2006.

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