InSites’ CRUSH Model Correlates to Generation Y Brand Leverage

Joeri Van den Bergh (@Joeri_InSites), co-founder of InSites Consulting and author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generation Y, shared the results of his research in a webinar yesterday.

InSites surveyed 5,000 Generation Y members around the world about their attitudes towards brands; InSites defines Gen Y as those currently aged 13 to 29 years old. Participants were asked to write a story about one of their favorite brands; InSites then text mined the responses. Based on this and other research, InSites developed its CRUSH Branding model to identify the five critical success factors of brands targeting Gen Y.

InSites CRUSH Branding Model

Here’s what the acronym stands for: Cool, Real, Unique, Self-identification, and Happiness.

  • Cool – Where for earlier generations coolness was often about the exclusive, for Gen Y consumers it is more inclusive, fostering togetherness, social sharing and even cosmopolitanism.
  • Real – Gen Y consumers can be cynical, and they look for authenticity in brands differently than older generations do. Instead of expecting brands to be true to their origin, history and heritage (the classic definition of brand authenticity), they want brands that are honest with themselves, with consumers and with society.
  • Unique – A brand has to offer something different than other brands to resonate with Generation Y consumers: for instance, the fashion discount retailer Forever 21 changes its collection on a daily basis, offering the ongoing lure of novelty.
  • Self-identification – Brands need to develop elements in common with their target consumers’ lifestyle: Red Bull has different initiatives to appeal to fans of extreme sports, music, racing and the arts.
  • Happiness – Of the 5,000 brand stories, 73% mentioned one or more emotions but only 29% mentioned a product characteristic. Clearly, emotions trump features. In a separate exercise, where respondents categorized a story they had written, happiness was the most referenced emotion, followed by sadness (which can be construed as the absence of happiness).

To validate the model, InSites had consumers rate brands in 15 different categories on each of these 5 dimensions. Brands that rated higher on the CRUSH model had more brand conversations (R2 = .57), stronger brand image (R2 = .74) and greater brand leverage (R2 = .62). InSites analyzed its research results by 60 different regions and found the model held up with minor differences: for instance, Cool is more important in the U.S. and Russia than in other markets, and Real in China is more spiritual.

If you’re marketing to 13 to 29 year olds, you’ll definitely want to read the book or use the InSites CRUSH self-assessment tool.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.