Talking about my generation
We have a new generation entering the public consciousness. Born after 9/11, with over 2 billion of them globally and an average life expectancy of 98 years old, the ‘always on’ Generation Z has its own spending power, a freedom of expression, an unparalleled access to information and are completely unconstrained by the rules and order that has influenced the Boomer, X, and Y Generations that have gone before them.
It’s highly likely that if you’re reading this and are over the age of 33 (Gen X or older) you won’t be able to fathom Z’s attitude to a variety of life factors… Education; ‘Why bother with university?’ Friendship: ‘I share everything with everyone’, Food: ‘it’s my fuel for life’ and Careers: …what’s a ‘career’? Why do I need one… I’ll do what I like.’
Every generation will try to fix the flaws of the previous incumbents. They share mind-sets caused by a common set of parenting behaviours; a set of filters that live with us as we go through the journey of life. These ingrain a common, but contrary mind-set in the generation that follows. In the seminal book The Fourth Turning, Harvard professors Strauss and Howe made the startling discovery that each generation goes through four shifts in mind-set during their life and these patterns have repeated themselves so consistently to be predictable going back 400 years.
The key is to see each generation beyond your own filters, and using a generational lens, ask yourself ‘what does each expect of my brand, product or service experience depending on where they are in their life?’
If you overlay something simple like eating in a restaurant or checking into a hotel you can quickly imagine totally different service propositions that transcend the now wise ‘seen it all before’ Boomer who grew up in the 60s vs the get on with it pragmatism of X to the overly protected digital natives of the 90’s. Each has different needs of essentially the same service.
If you’re a brand or employer it’s time to take the wider angle view of the next generation now, as you’re certain to spot future opportunities before the time comes.
To find out more about the new kids on the block, click here to download a free copy of our Generation Z book.
Published in The Guardian 29th June 2015, in partnership with the Marketing Agencies Association