Generation Y has come of age with the Harry Potter franchise. While on the surface, it would appear to be just an epic fantasy, to the generation, it means so much more. The themes of standing up for your beliefs, distrust of those in power, equality for all races and genders, as well as overcoming all obstacles through the actions of a few people, are indicative of Gen Y’s mindset. Harry Potter himself is a symbol of this generation, embodying all the characteristics they aspire to.
In my book, The New World Marketplace, I get in to details of the new values and ideological power of the youth culture. With a population estimated at 72 million, making up roughly 26% of the population, Gen Y is the most educated, diverse, tech savvy, optimistic yet disappointed, and soon to be the largest American generation–more than 3 times the size of Gen X. They have greater influence on cultural evolution than previous generation, with unique needs to connect and relate on an individual basis versus trying to fit into a “social norm.”
I explained the concept of “delaying adulthood” in both my book, and also my blog, Do You Really Know 20-somethings? Different studies have shown a range of 5-7 years of delay in reaching the five milestones to adulthood–completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. I just read the most recent data by Pew Research survey that showed 24% of adults 18-34 moved back in with their parents in recent years because of economic conditions. I wondered why my previous research showed 40%–then, I realized that the vast majority of them never moved out in the first place. So here’s the latest numbers of young adults living with parents, according to the March 2012 survey by Pew Research:
- 39% of all young adults
- 53% of 18-24
- 41% of 25-29
- 17% of 30-34
This poses a big marketing twist for companies trying to reach this generation. How should branding messages to these multi-generational households look and feel like? The challenge is that these young adults who moved back in with parents because of economic necessities don’t all have a favorable outlook, although most do. But majority of them contribute to household expenses in one form or another. This changes the picture of parental financial support altogether.
What’s even more interesting is that this generation was raised in an era where the divorce rate was high, brief marriages were the norm and numerous partners was acceptable. While this has been raised as a major issue for many social experts as it relates to commitment, it has also resulted in this generation being very culturally liberal.
Ask yourself if your company is making certain assumptions and stereotypes when it comes to branding messages toward Gen Y. Do those messages contain personal growth, relationships, causes, beliefs, values and a sense of purpose? Gen Y is transforming business and branding norms. Connections, contacts, friends or fans, word of mouth, yelp reviews, and Facebook likes may end up mattering more than just a great Super Bowl Ad.
As much as these two words resemble one another, their social and political meaning are perceived antagonistic. You would think that revolution naturally follows evolution, as actions follow the desires to act. Are they fundamentally the same thing, differing only according to the time of their presence? Are revolutionists the true evolutionists? At what point Evolution turns into Revolution?
Evolution by definition means the change over time and variation causes in one or more inherited traits found in populations and individuals. Socially and culturally, it means the gradual and continuous development in morals, ideas, beliefs and values. The fearful word, Revolution, is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a sudden, short period of time, resulting in either complete change or modification of an existing constitution, culture, economy and socio-political institutions. It implies the sudden change, entailing some sort of catastrophe and pressure from the great masses below. Most speak well of natural progress of evolution in general, until they resent progress in a particular direction that challenges the norms and ideals of wealth, power and comfort of privileged worth preserving.
Seth’s Godin in his blog, “forever recession,” explains two types of recessions: a cyclical one that comes and goes – and a permanent one caused by the rise of productivity eliminating jobs for good – end of an era and start of another – a revolution. The industrial revolution fueled economy by massive factories and efficient assembly lines. The information technology revolution faded the local mass production. The internet squeezed inefficiencies out of many systems eliminating not only many clerical office jobs, but also enabling the move of interchangeable parts and jobs around the globe for “cheaper.” Every revolution destroys the last structure before the new one becomes profitable.
The revolutions we are seeing around the globe are not just about job eliminations for efficiencies. So many people have already shifted gears, training and changing expectations. People of all races, cultures, ages and lifestyles have access to the same information technology…their own factory. You would expect that this revolution will level the playing fields. But it has moved profits generated through efficiencies benefiting a very few, and the wealth of a nation has become sum of its tradable riches. Companies are holding on to the profit, not spending, not hiring. It is fueled when leaders are hell-bent on running each other into the ground instead of running the nation.
I spoke at a panel last week and was surprised of how women are still clinging to the old archetypes and mindsets, discussing “shift” of power, instead of partnership and linking. The social model needs to shift for women, as well as men. State of abundance replacing scarcity. Caring and relating more than just ‘networking.’ Lasting outcomes, not just short-term payoffs. Creating and innovating what makes life better and provide more meaning and authenticity – not just trading power, domination and money. The incoming tide is bearing us onward towards a future radically different from existing conditions.
So at what point evolution turns into revolution? When the tide gets stronger and voices are heard….when more people join and believe in the same values, causes and beliefs… .when the monstrous status quo has failed too many, too deserving, and for too long. Not just because of the rich getting richer, but at the loss of human dignity and sovereignty over one’s own fate to live a good meaningful life. We are the creators of our future. To make this a meaningful revolution, we must ask ourselves which human outcomes we want to evolve rapidly.
I use a unique emotional and cultural framework in my consulting and speaking business that revolve around beliefs and values. I thought it’d be a good idea to share a short blog on this topic with my loyal readers.
Beliefs are the assumptions we make about ourselves and others. Convictions and concepts we hold to be true, with or without evidence. How we expect things to be, what we think is true and real. Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience and think about. And beliefs manifest in what we say and do. They are the basis for decision-making and drive consumption behavior for businesses, as well as how we communicate and relate with others.
Our values stem from our beliefs. Values are about how we think things or people ought to be in terms of qualities and guiding principles that are important to us – such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, trust, openness, freedom, peace, happiness, empathy, compassion, equality, faithfulness, etc. While some values are universal in unanimous global agreement – such as honesty, integrity, peace – many values vary based on culture, religion, and beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned.
I’ve seen many companies post their values on their web site. Some even mark leadership, innovation and customer focus as values. And why not. They are beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned. But I’d ask….are your values aligned with those of your customers and relationships that are important to you?
If you have any intentions to grab a piece of the $2 trillion marketplace that is multicultural and youthful where women have become key players, you may want to consider these values as thought starters in your cultural and emotional frameworks for marketing messages :
- Multicultural: Trust, Acceptance, Respect, Understanding
- Women: Trust, Equality, Thoughtfulness, Service
- Youth: Inspiration, Creativity, Freedom, Adventure
Yes, there are more…and with commonalities. Find them, communicate them, but most importantly, be honest and authentic about them. Your fans will know the difference.