Hope I Die Before I Get Old

30 Jun 2003|Added Value

I was speaking on a panel at the IIR youth conference on June 23rd (the Youth Marketing Mega-Event 2003 in Anaheim). I heard someone talk about how the current generation of youth (I think they were referring to teens, Gen Y, NetGen, Millennials, whatever you want to call them) are not looking forward to getting older like people from my generation did when we were that age. I’m paraphrasing from memory, but as I recall it was about wanted to extend their youth more than aspiring to be older.

Now this got me to thinking, and I was thinking that I don’t agree 100%–not yet.

While it may be true that they’re more conscious of the responsibilities of adult life than previous generations, I do think they’re still after the freedoms that getting older offers. (Moving from reliance on their parents, to their peers, and ultimately to self-reliance.) And I imagine that, for them, there must be a conflict between this yearning for freedom (which is one of the cornerstones of the teen experience along with friends and fun–the “three F’s”) and the responsibility that comes with the territory. Which is nothing new. And…you can’t have one without the other [I sure haven’t figured it out yet ;)].

With the freedoms come the responsibility, and I think in the end, while they might strongly resist the responsibilities that are a part of adult life, the temptation of the freedoms they could achieve will be too great. Thus, their actual behaviors may not be fundamentally different than previous generations.

However, if the above is true, then their attitude towards getter older and taking on more responsibility will be different than previous generations. And THIS could be important. This could have implications for marketers trying to communicate with them–especially if their products address this issue in any way, or if they’re trying to reach them while they’re going through this life stage transition.

In other words, even if two different audiences exhibit the same behaviors, when the attitudes underlying these behaviors are fundamentally different, the best way to communicate and reach them could also be fundamentally different.

Anyway, that’s how I feel today.

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