From Boomers, now Millennials to Gen Z.

Boomers first learned they were no longer the chosen generation on television, November 4, 2007 as news correspondent Morley Safer from “60 minutes” introduced his audience to millennials.

His opening comments were profound while poignant:

Stand back all bosses! A new breed of American worker is about to attack everything you hold sacred: from giving orders, to your starched white shirt and tie. They are called, among other things, “millennials.” There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995, and they’re rapidly taking over from the baby boomers who are now pushing 60.

He continues saying,

The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.

Correspondent, Morely Safer, CBS News

Correspondent, Morely Safer, CBS News

As researchers grappled with defining millennial habits, we heard in June of 2013 from Nielsen Research calling out:

  • “…Boomers and Millennials exhibit vastly different behaviors and habits, from their money to their media.
  • Boomers and Millennials both have high rates of technology adoption, but it’s how they use it that’s of interest. Millennials are driving technology.
  • Nielsen NeuroFocus research shows that neurological changes that come with age result in certain types of communication being more effective
  • Boomers: The aging brain is more easily distracted
    Millennials: Younger brains have high multi-sensory processing capacity—which makes them very amenable to (and almost seek) multi-sensory communications.”

Just when we thought we understood who they were

In the span of just ten years, we have witnessed three generations fluidly transition across the consumer marketplace. Each having a profound stake, presence and influence on BrandCulture. First, boomers, then millennials. Now Gen Z.

As this most recently recognized generation is being seen, sized and seized by marketers of products and services across the social zeitgeist, their real impact will soon be economic.

The result?

They’re causing boomers and millennials, marketers, designers, retailers, investors and inventors to ask complex business and cultural questions:

“Who are they?”
“How do we market to them?”
“How do they think?”
“What are their habits?”

Yikes, our child is one of them. “Now, what?”

Then it took every part of the last ten years to answer some of them. Now we’re asking them again, about Gen Z.

I’m not sure how Morley would open his next news correspondent segment regarding Gen Z, but it would be compelling, provocative and perhaps flavored with a bit of cultural irony. “Just when we thought we understood the future, it changed…”

A look at the future

Generational progression and its expression, like technology, is about adoption. Here are a few insights we might begin to witness as we begin to write our own segment of “60 Minutes”. Or should I say, ” 60 Seconds”?

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