Thursday, July 7, 2011

Generations flying by quicker than I can blog

Social trends guru, Mark McCrindle, posted two separate items recently that said:
  • The last of the Gen Ys are in their final years of school meaning an 'all-Gen Z' school population; and
  • Generation Alpha has officially kicked off (that's the one following Gen Z for non-cognizentia).
I can vouch for the first being a proud slave to a Gen Z daughter. I think I recall saying in a previous blog that if marketers thought Gen Ys were hard going - wait until you hit Gen Z. They're the ultimate tech natives. The only difference between primitive man and them is that their savagery is directed only at deferred gratification, things that don't work as they should, and mobile phones that don't tidy their room for them.

Recently, a colleague of mine went on maternity leave - the result being the issue of bubba photos for immediate distribution around the workplace. I looked at this example of Gen Alpha and wondered how different we really all start out. The eternal question about whether how we turn out is governed more by what we're born with or the environment we grow up in.

Our Gen Alpha sample looked the same as most Gen Z catalogues that I've seen. In fact, it didn't look greatly different than the old boomer pix, except for the latter's monochrome reproduction. Gen Zs would actually argue that as we lope around in our navy blue trackie dacks we live up to the monocolour start that we had. (I've moved into purple recently to try and overturn this misconception.)

Nonetheless, I wonder what unique marketing challenges Gen Alpha will present? They'll respond to sensory cues that we haven't even dreamed of yet. Email will likely be dead and buried, replaced by cryptic Twitter code, illegible to any previous generations. They may Google by telepathy. Apple will have reincarnated Steve Jobs to develop the iHand, a phosphorescent skin that fits like a glove and glows to display downloads from their Google telepathy. "Can't shake hands 'cos you'll change my browser settings".

The employers of choice will be those who pay them more to stay at home as governments, congested infrastructure, office rental and environmental preservation kill off the city commute. In fact, we may not have employers, just a population where everyone can search for the best talent and skills to hire on an hourly basis.

Hard to believe that Generation Alpha won't, like all before it, be a product of its environment...

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