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26 July 2012

The next generation of consumers


The generation born in the 1990s will be entering the workforce and general consumer age bracket in the next few years. Open to innovation and change and digitally-savvy, their perception of what’s possible is likely to be a great deal less limiting than it was for their predecessors.

 How can marketers ensure that they are still heard above the noise and that their brands make a deep connection with their target audiences? le born between the early to mid-1990s and 2000s, the so-called ‘Generation We’, were placed under scrutiny in a recent study by an independent US agency. In the US alone, there are 62 million Gen We citizens with US$143 billion in purchasing power between them. Marketers, therefore, should be aware of the following truths about them.

1. They’re Not Brand Loyal

Unless you happen to be Apple, endearing iyour brand to Gen We in the long-term won’t be easy. They left MySpace forFacebook. They abandoned Guitar Hero for Angry Birds. And High School Musical became a distant memory when Glee came along. Gen We is more concerned with value and function over brand. Gen X wears Abercrombie & Fitch because of the brand, whereas Gen We will buy from a brand only if its products meet their economic and functional needs. To stay relevant to this audience, brands will have to evolve, demonstrate value, and market in non-traditional ways.

 2. They Expect Brands to Fit Their Mould

A great example of this is how this generation responds to technology and information architecture. Gen X had to learn to click the ‘start’ button to shut down a computer, even though it made no sense to do so. By contrast, Gen We won’t blame themselves or hang around when products and brands don’t perform the way they expect.

 3. They Care About the World

This generation grew up with cartoons like Dora the Explorer, and is the first to experience ‘green’ as a mainstream concept. They’re not going to be a group of tree-hugging environmentalists, but they do care about the world and want to associate themselves with individuals and brands that also care.

Consider the 13-year-old who started his own scented candle business – ManCans (www.man-cans.com) – featuring scents like Bacon, New Catcher’s Mitt, and Campfire. He makes his candles in soup cans and donates the soup to a local food bank. He’s received thousands of orders. Or the 12-year-old who started a mobile dance studio in an old school bus to tackle obesity. After school, Amiya’s Mobile Dance Academy (www.amiyasdancebus.com) travels to kids who can’t afford dance lessons and teaches them everything from ballet to h

 4. They Expect You to Entertain Them

This group expects to be entertained. They have short attention spans and an uncanny knack for processing massive amounts of information. This is a generation that grew up watching cartoons on the handheld video systems in the car. They played with their DS or their parent’s iPhone. And they will expect entertainment from you if you want to connect with them.

 5. They Actually Listen to Their Parents

Gen X parents and Gen We kids watch the same TV channels, wear the same clothing brands and play the same video games – often as a family. This group has a voice in family decisions, and they’re willing to listen and even copycat their parents’ purchasing habits. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this group become adult members of the workforce over the next few years. As consumers, they will force us to think differently to connect with them – making for interesting and challenging times for marketers. 



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