Some folks call them the 'millennials'.
Still others call them Gen Y or Gen Z or Generation Next.
They are clearly the digital children, the first generation of the new millennium. "Gen Y" makes up about 70 million in U.S., born between '77 & '94. They are the late boomers kids and they are massive in numbers, equally as large in popluation as the boomers. Their younger siblings - Gen Z - is a much, much smaller group. The end result of the 1.8 kids households are having now. Gen Z are the young kids of today and they are a fraction of the size of Gen Y. But however you define them, they will change the world.
These young consumers have NEVER experienced a day without a computer; without being connected to every country, market, race, ethnicity on the planet. IF they need information - they click a button. This younger generation is also a very diverse group. One out of three GEN Y is NOT caucasian. Nine out of ten kids have friends outside their ethnicity. The word "minority" may lose meaning in future generations. One in four live in a single parent household. Three out of four have working moms. What does it all mean? The future looks very different simply because these kids have the 'connectivity' to shape a different world. The world is a click away for this target audience. They "live" on-line. Text messages, podcasts - text books - are now on-line. Everything is deciminated through a computer and hi-speed internet.
One very POSITIVE aspect of all this - kids have the opportuinty to shape their personalities, their reputation and standing with each other, much more now then when kids were never this connected.
Think of a middle school child now entering a new school. What do kids think of him or her? How do they treat him? Is he a 'jock'? A 'brain'? A wimp or 'deadbeat'? Labeling kids and groups, stereotypes - potentially all go away because now these kids can connect everyday thru text messages and the internet and blogs - and so individuals can continue to 'shape' how others view them and interact with them each and every day. It's beautiful on some levels. A child is no longer "labeled". Does it still happen - sure - but with all kids connected via cell phone texting - the child has the opportunity to reshape the label. I believe there is a greater respect for each individual...more listening...more interacting...more opportunities to connect & have a real relationship with everyone. How does this affect marketers? We have to join the conversation. Want to be part of this group's inner world? Find a way to be part of their conversation. Don't talk TO them - share WITH them. Provide content and a forum. And make sure the message is always consistent and useful. These kids will decide for themselves how and IF they choose to interact with your brands, goods & services. Be honest with them; offer collaboration & content; and maybe, just maybe, you'll receive an invite to connect.