The consensus of the many articles and blog posts about Gen-Y seems to be that the younger generations have a completely different value system than those that have come before them. As businesses adjust to an increasingly Gen-Y consumer base, the trick seems to be cracking this code of how I – a member of Gen-Y – choose from whom I buy.
When I need something, I ask my social circle (in person and on social networking sites) and go to my favorite search engine, rarely going past page two. As a result, often my first impression of a company is its website. If I do not find the company from one of these two methods, I don't consider it.
With this list of potentials, I (often subconsciously) evaluate them. The atmosphere of the site can make me feel comfortable and welcome or out of place. I desire to feel a part of the community, a part of something greater than myself. If a recommendation came from a close friend, my relationship with the brand has already begun before "meeting" them. This relationship with the company is what creates loyalty.
If a business is active in the local community, has fair employment/purchasing practices and cares about social issues, buying from that company fits into my ethical values. I am able to be true to the entirety of who I am while buying what I want or need.
All relationships are dynamic. An annoying commercial can leave me frustrated (wanting to avoid the business), and seeing my cause taken up can renew/deepen our bond.
It is all about relationship and community.
It's still who I know.