A Generation of Narcissists Creates Unique Opportunities for Marketers


If you were asked to describe Gen Y in a few sentences, what would you say? Would you comment on their extraordinary level of self-centredness, their grandiose sense of self-importance, or perhaps their constant need for admiration and attention? If yes, you’re not alone, in fact you’re probably right.

Welcome to the age of digital narcissism, a world that thrives on self-promotion, sound bite driven communication and superficial friendships. But what does this mean for your brand? Well with unlimited bragging opportunities comes a unique chance to get that added bit of attention you’ve been looking for online.

The thing is that young consumers today are empowered and enslaved by the smartphone, sharing images of each other on an unprecedented scale. We now live in an era where the sensory thrill of living in the moment is being abandoned in the quest to stop, record and share every aspect of our lives. The demands of keeping up appearances have become all encompassing, and thousands of brands have already jumped on the bandwagon.

Brands have now realised that they no longer need to rely on expensive advertising campaigns to create awareness; they just need to tap in to existing consumer behaviours. Calvin Klein for example identified their target markets social sharing tendencies and invited their consumers to post pictures of themselves posing in their “Calvins”, using the hashtag #mycalvins in their spring/summer 2014 underwear campaign. The campaign created a significant buzz around the Calvin Klein brand, reaching an audience of 200 million fans worldwide and attracting a band of celebrity followers including Miley Cyrus, Kendall Jenner and Iggy Azalea. The dream result for most marketers.

The reality is that people want to boast about how good their lives are. They want to show their friends that they own the hottest brands, dine at the best restaurants and holiday at the most luxurious resorts, so throw them a bone.

Why not use an incentive and ask your customers to check in to your premise, share a positive experience they had with your brand, or post a photo of themselves using your product? It’s a simple and effective way to create exposure online, and the best part, it won’t cost you anywhere near as much as traditional advertising.

So next time you want to generate online discussion around your brand, consider getting your customers to do the work for you… they’ll thank you for it.

Written by Marli Stork.