Gen X and Y: We’re Not So Different

April  29,  2011 / By Taylor Blog

Recently our consumer insights strategy team presented an insights-filled session on Generation Y trends. Immediately, I thought… “Great, a session just to make me feel older!”

Being in my 30’s, I’m starting to feel like an old woman now when I have to “study” 18-21 year olds. I used to be right there in this key demographic group, or at least a friend-away from knowing everything about them. But, alas, I now have to resort to “studying” this group via presentations and decks.

The team walked us through some pretty interesting behaviors and attributes of the Gen Y crowd:

• Due to the high digital connectivity of the group, Gen Yers deal with dejection in real-time. They know immediately if they missed out on a party or event their friends went to.
• Customization is key. They won’t wait for an upgrade to a product – they will take matters in their own hands and “hack” all of their stuff.
• A new acronym, FOMO, which stands for “the fear of missing out”
• … and ranking each other based on online reputation via a Social Score using sites such as Klout.com

I was amazed at all of these new tools that Gen Y uses seamlessly in their daily lives. It was kind of overwhelming at first. But, I began to think of myself when I was in this age-range, so I try to relate. I remembered that:

• No one wants to be dejected. We didn’t have the tools to be dejected in that very instant but, sooner or later, we found out.
• Everyone I knew put their personal stamp on their belongings – decals on cars, decorating your room to your liking, etc. Everything you owned had to have your mark on it.
• I never wanted to miss out on anything. I loved being a part of any social functions.
• And we certainly ranked each other … based on clothes, cars, apartments, and the like.

I came to realize that the “Life Stage” a consumer is in can be a key indicator of their behavioral habits. We all go through different stages of our lives: partying in college, beginning a career, starting a family, mastering an art/hobby, guiding the next generation, etc. While each generation has different tools and “stuff” to utilize during each stage, I believe that at the core, we are all fairly similar in our needs and wants.

So, I can’t wait until the Generation Z meeting invite hits my inbox…we’ll be talking about my kids. Uggghhh!

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