Gen-Y Honda Student Campaign Gets Results With This Gen-Xer

I teach in the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University and every spring my colleague runs a course called Advertising & IMC. The unique characteristic of this course is that they participate in a national competition through partner EdVenture Partners. It brings top brands to students who get to work on real efforts for real marketing clients. The experience is invaluable.

This semester the client product is for the Honda Civic targeted to the younger Generation Y audience. Here is a commercial they created for their big idea “Recreate A Classic:”

But just to show you that sometimes a strategy targeted to a younger audience can also pull in an older one – I bought a new Honda Civic Hybrid last week. The students flattered me saying that I was an “older” Gen-Y, but no. I had to correct them and say that I am officially a member of Generation X. Will seeing this Gen-Xer driving around campus, discourage Gen-Y from a Civic? Is it less cool? I think you will always have some older people buying cars made for younger buyers to feel or look younger. I simply like the Civic Hybrid gas millage for my long commute.

What are your thoughts on generational marketing? This blog post “The Death of Generational Marketing” says that you can not create a unique appeal based on it. It seems car makers have always tried to reach the younger demographic as this NBC story discusses “Automakers Battle to Attract Younger Buyers.” But apparently this battle is harder than ever before. In 1983, 69% of 17-year-olds had a license, but this seemingly ubiquitous rite of passage has now become passé. In 2008, just 50% of 17-year-olds had a license. The New York Times quotes research that says in 2008, 46.3% of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4% in 1998.

I don’t think you can dismiss the value of consumer behavior research into generations. Do you think is it s viable marketing strategy?