Baby Boomer Kids
Whether you call them “Baby Boom Echo”, “Generation Y”, or “Millennials“, the young adults born during the two decades of 1980-1999 constitute the biggest surge of population since the Baby Boom of the 1940s and 50s—almost 80 million Americans emerging from teen-agers into young adults. Many pundits of the past have assumed that these consumers will simply adopt the “Achiever” and “Striver” personalities of their parents. But they will be wrong.
Recent research for the Kiplinger Newsletter indicates that the major difference between Baby Boomers and their kids is “familiarity with technology”. The Kiplinger research finds that, more than any other generation, “Gen Y’ers see technology as enhancing the quality of their lives—making work easier, allowing them to manage their time better and bringing family and friends closer . . . 90 percent of the portion of this emergent generation over age 18 use the Internet, compared to three-quarters of the total population.” More than 60 percent of them do not have a land line telephone, and a majority are daily telephone texters.
Despite high unemployment and college debts, these young adults are well-traveled, both in this country and abroad, no doubt contributing to their cultural awareness and to cooperative work habits, a carry-over learned from group projects in school—the latter attribute a distinct contrast with their parents’ generation who exhibited entrepreneurial individualism. However, a majority of these young people have not learned basic communication skills and dress etiquette required in the workplace (40 percent have tattoos). Historic group manners and timeliness are in short supply among these confident and technologically-skilled newcomers.
Personal relationships, fostered by electronic connections, are strongly valued among the members of this generation. Loyalty tends to be to individuals (e.g., a manager) rather than corporate entities. And time is valued higher than money, with personal interaction deemed above work objectives.
So far (the oldest under age 35), these young adults are less acquisitive than their parents and they demean conspicuous consumption. They are sensitive to value, especially given their ready access to on-line comparison shopping. And they are much more environmentally sensitive than all prior generations. Traditional media advertising does not impact them relative to its affect on older consumers.
In sum, as employees, these young adults require managerial flexibility to generate their optimum production; as consumers, re-established communication channels must be created for cost-effect—two major shifts in organizational operations requiring adaptable and creative management skills by leaders from prior generations. Can these leaders adapt? They must, because there is no other choice in order to influence this wave of the future.
If you would like to explore further details on this or other stories, please contact Dr. David F. Parker at (904) 992-9888, or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.parkerassociates.com to read more about what Parker Associates can do for you.