There's some debate as to when "Generation Y" came into being. My personal preference is to cite the start of the 1990s. Whatever the academic niceties of the exact timing, the characteristics of this generation cannot be ignored by business.
Imagine a world where the Internet has always existed. Phones have always been mobile. CDs are cumbersome. You have always been able to shop online. Your first port of call for information is always a search engine, not a book. You don't buy a newspaper, you read your news online. If you don't like what's on TV, you find something you do want to watch on the Internet. If you want a takeaway, you order it online and someone delivers it to your door.
On demand, online, 24/7... Welcome the world of Generation Y.
These young people are now in the workplace and at University. They're an influential lot too. How many parents/grandparents have joined Facebook so they can keep in touch with Generation Y? How many employers are facing a rising pressure to accept social media to be as much a part of work life as the ubiquitous watercooler?
Now, consider your business from their viewpoint:
Can you be found - easily - online?
If the answer is "no" then Generation Y won't come looking for you. There will somebody else there to pick up the business.
Is your virtual presence polished?
Does your shop/website work flawlessly?
Do you make it easy for people to conduct business online with you?
Do you engage with your customers in several ways online?
"No" to any of these will mean that Generation Y will scroll passed you to someone that does business the way that they want. You'll also have to keep an eye out for the online fallout - Generation Y share their opinions freely!
A step change in consumer behaviour is a rare occurrence. Make sure you don't get left behind.