Baby Boomers are still reeling from the recessionary aftershock, Generation X is taking the reigns of their
future by appointing themselves CEO, Generation Y is growing impatient for the much promised political,
economic and social change and Generation Z? Who is Generation Z? Boomers, Generation X, Generation
Y are ubiquitous terms among marketers, but what is understood about youngsters of Generation Z?
Supre, Jay Jays, Speed Demons, Open Books are just a few key elements of this up-and-coming
Generation Z that we examine in our 2010 Generational Trend Report. We segment each generation into
common groups, discuss relevant 2010 macro trends, build a brand profile and cast predictions of what to
expect in the coming five years in our 2010 Generational Trends.
Join us as we explore Connectors, Micro Miners, Escapists, Forerruners and more.
Gen Z is also called Generation I or Generation Next. While research is
limited on this pre-teen generation, many consider the Gen Z birth period
between 1994 and 2004 -- the oldest of which are currently of driving
age. It is estimated that Gen Z are 23 million strong and growing.
From green activism to anime, from Gawker to Tony Hawk video games,
Generation Y is a complex generation with diverse interests. Immersed
in the digital world from an early age, Gen Y is at the forefront of
mashing up how we communicate, entertain, and innovate.
Sergey Brin, Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart are among many Gen X
luminaries pushing the limits, re-shaping corporate culture, re-thinking
film and revolutionizing comedy. They are accelerating the speed of life
and "keeping America from sucking," writes Jeff Gordinier, author of X
Saves the World.
Baby Boomers have charged social and cultural revolutions and built vast,
far-reaching corporate empires. They have helped weave the social,
political and economic fabric of our country today. Their many
achievements have made them one of the greatest generations of all
time. Their wealth and influence is greater than any other generation
Consumer Segments Ages: 6-16
Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y are ubiquitous terms among marketers. So
who is Gen Z? Gen Z is also called Generation I or Generation Next.
While research is limited on this pre-teen generation, many consider Trend
the Gen Z birth period between 1994 and 2004 -- the oldest of which Freedom: New way of Creativity -- The 2010
are currently of driving age. It is estimated that Gen Z are 23 million Freedom trend is about the rise in self-publishing
strong and growing. tools, such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. As
Gen Z are true digital natives, self-publishing tools
While parts of Gen Y have distant, hazy memories of a pre-smartphone are a staple of their online lives. Speed Demons
world, Gen Z has no recollection. As a result, Gen Z are true digital enjoy Blogger's simple, accessible user interface,
natives -- having grown-up on iPods, text messaging, Facebook, smart community-organizers leverage Facebook groups,
Open Books use life-streaming sites like Twitter
phones and YouTube. They are coming of age publicly on the web, are and Micro Miners are Tumblr users for it's easy
true multi-taskers and have a no-holds-barred attitude about blogging search and discovery tools.
and digital publishing.
Growing up on the web, Gen Z lives in a world of instant gratification.
Speed Demons thrive on acceleration and next, next, next. To Gen Z,
dial-up is as ancient as dinosaurs. This segment lives for speed and
sluggish technology is useless technology. Google -- with its emphasis
on performance and speed -- is well positioned to meet the high-
demands of this Gen Z segment. "[Gen Z] will be so good at processing
information that they will open doors we can only knock on today,"
writes Penelope Trunk, founder of Gen Y social networking site, Brazen
Gen Z has grown up with social communities, such as Facebook or Statistics
Orkut. Meeting, befriending and interacting with the online community • Population Size:
is second nature. Accordingly, Community-Organizers' value is in their 23 million
ability to spread messages to vast sums of internet users. Famed • 60% of Gen Z
generational experts Strauss and Howe theorize that generational enjoy relevant
behavior is cyclical (e.g. Gen X are independent, Gen Y are team advertising
players). This thinking would therefore indicate that Gen Z should be • 46% of Gen Z like
independent. However, the networked nature of the digital world and funny ads
Gen Z's place in it might trump this theory of independence.
Open Books find little value in privacy. Personal information is only
sensitive when it comes to money. Everything else is fair game.
Consider the issue of privacy as it cascades through Boomers, Gen X
and Gen Y. Privacy is less of a concern with the more tech-savvy
generations. Open Books enjoy life-streaming on social networks, such
as Facebook and Twitter. If you thought Gen Y was lax on privacy, Gen
Z will blow your mind. We will see what happens when Open Books hit Brand Profile
the work world - no blur or public/private separation.
Think 19th Century Russia. Dostoyevsky could publish a 600-page book
and it would be the hottest paper in all of Russia. Fast forward to the
digital age and we have a much different picture. Today, attention
spans could not handle even a 400-page book. Fast forward into the
Gen Z's future and everything is broken into bite-size, manageable
pieces. Micro miners thrive on small bits of information. Think Boing-
Boing in Twitter-length messages. Information is condensed into its
very essence. Micro-blogging, social platforms like Tumblr will emerge
very popular among Micro Miners. In fact, Tumblr has steadily grown
from 4.2 million unique monthly users in June 2009 to 14 million in
There will be a push in marketing to create more captivating campaigns -- as 60% of Gen Z want to consume
relevant, interesting advertisements. To appeal to this growing audience, marketers will need to focus on entertaining
Gen Z -- potentially incorporating self-publishing tools into marketing campaigns -- to make a connection, then add a
brand message. Let Gen Z take control of your brand by fusing entertainment with user-generated content. Consider
outsourcing your advertising through user generated campaigns, similar to Pizza Hut.
Consumer Segments Ages: 16-26
From green activism to anime, from Gawker to Tony Hawk video
games, Generation Y is a complex generation with diverse interests. Trend
Immersed in the digital world from an early age, Gen Y is at the
forefront of mashing up how we communicate, entertain, and innovate. Skeptic Nation -- Sixty six percent of Gen Yers
Let’s start with some generalizations about Gen Y: they seek diverse voted Obama into office -- more than any other
generation. Connectors rallied Obama support on
communities online and offline, are idealistic and socially conscious, social media; Forrunners wore Obama pins as a
and they crave authenticity. Underneath those generalizations are badge of reform; Escapists wanted to abandon the
mindsets that drive their behaviors and choices. Bush years; Free Thinkers heeded Obama's call for
change. As we reflect on Obama's first year in the
Oval Office, has he enact his much promised
Connectors change? Wall Street is still accepting million-dollar
With the rapid rise of Facebook and Myspace, the Connector is an bonuses, America is still fighting two wars and
obvious place to start. The Connector thrives on crowds and loves to health reform is slow-coming.
participate in the hubbub. To live up to their billing, they stay current
on Hollywood, sports, and their friends. The iPhone is among their
favorite products. On TV, they are watching Sports Center, the Hills,
Gossip Girl, and the Office.
While the Connectors are on Facebook, the Forerunners are 2 steps
ahead, checking out Twitter, Tumblr, and Ning. These are intellectually
curious individuals who enthusiastically discover the latest trends,
news, music, and urban scene, while also finding time for social causes
and green issues. They aren’t shy. In fact, they live to actively share Statistics
their opinion, gaining satisfaction from being in-the-know and making a
difference. If you are reading blogs, you’re probably getting a lot of • Population Size:
your information from these Gen Y thought leaders. They are emerging • Sixty six percent
microblogger class. In fact, Forerunners comprise 40 percent of the
of Gen Yers voted
microblogging site, Tumblr. Obama into office
While the Connectors and Forerunners engage at a frenzied pace, the
Escapist dis-engages from the hectic world around. They enjoy their
escape from everyday life; immersing themselves in their own virtual
reality. Escapists jump into their avatar skins in games such as World Of
Warcraft. Escapists appreciate the pleasure of low key hangout on
YouTube, playing video games, and catching up on the X-Files. They
like cartoons: from anime to Simpsons to Adult Swim, you’ve got the
Escapist hooked. Brand Profile
The Free Thinker is central to the rise of the artisan class. The Free
Thinker is a highly imaginative individual that likes to express the
diversity of their life in out-of-the-box ways. While the Escapist is on
YouTube, the Free Thinker has their own designs in mind as they seek
the fulfillment of discovering new, more off-beat communities. The
Free Thinker makes their home at local coffee shops, and joins the
Forerunners in social and altruistic causes. While they like Bravo, they
are just as comfortable watching Austin City Limits or hanging out
online at undiscovered sites such as Pitchfork.
Gen Y are corporate and political skeptics. Large corporate empires present a real danger to Gen Y as they have seen
the impact of too-big-to-fail banks on the economy. To appeal to Gen Y, you will need to shed the corporate brand in
lieu of a more niche or personable brand. Although Hulu is a partnership between large media empires, its success
can attributed to the non-corporate image. Boasting a large corporate image will only turn off this skeptic generation.
Consumer Segments Ages: 26-46
Sergey Brin, Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart are among many Gen
X luminaries pushing the limits, re-shaping corporate culture, re-
thinking film and revolutionizing comedy. They are accelerating the Trend
speed of life and "keeping America from sucking," writes Jeff Gordinier, Web of Intelligence -- The Web of Intelligence is
author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can about creating more smart computing through
Still Keep Everything From Sucking. adaptive algorithms, such as personalized search.
While Boomers (think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates)
helped push the first digital revolution, Gen X
Generation X is an estimated 50 million strong. Most demographers (think Google's Sergey Brin) is picking up where
agree that GenXers were born between 1964 and 1984 -- putting them they left off and advancing the web into new
between the ages of 26 and 46. This generation is often referred to as areas never before imagined possible. Gen X is
"baby busters," as they are attributed to a rapid decline in birth rates more educated than their Boomer parents and
after the Baby Boomers. Moreover, Gen X is a highly educated and putting that knowledge to good use.
sophisticated group -- with more than 60% of the population having
attended higher education institutions.
Each generation is defined by diverse subsets rather than a single
attribute. By defining these diverse characteristics of Gen X, we are not
pigeon-holing them as just pragmatic or just forward-thinkers. Instead,
we are exploring the diversity of a generation that has helped shape
business, culture and technology. As TwentySomething's David
Morrison writes, "my birthgroup would be hard pressed to fit on a
single couch due to its sheer magnitude and unprecedented diversity."
Pragmatics are considered the byproduct of the Information Age --
where data and a practical approach are essential ingredients to
achieve results. Because Pragmatics understand the intricacies of
media and marketing, they are sometimes considered cynical (however, • Population Size:
not without an underlying optimism, notes Morrison). 50 million
• Over 60% of Gen
Thrillers Xers have a higher
Thrillers are about speed. They contributed to the rise in thrill-junky
sports, such as skateboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. The X-
Games, born from the Gen X grass-roots movement, has created a
lasting impact on sports -- with the Olympic's adopting snowboarding
as a legitamet sport.
Jeff Gordinier, 41, a disenfranchised Gen Xer, feels like his generation
"got the shaft." In his book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got
the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, Gordinier writes,
"How about less Bob Dylan and more Kurt Cobain? If [Nirvana's]
Nevermind changed the world, the world changed back pretty fast." In Brand Profile
many ways, Gordinier feels as if Gen X is getting middle child
treatment. Boomers are growing old and Gen Y is coming of age, so
what about Gen X?
Gen X is at the intersection of personal wealth and sophistication.
Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers to high-quality,
localized brands such as Trader Joe’s. Quality Seekers are willing to
spend more to get high-quality ingredients. In fact, Quality Seekers
helped Trader Joe's rank no. 23 on "Supermarket News' Top 75
Retailers of 2009.”
For Gen X, the recession is still kinking their career path. In fact, to find work, Gen X has employed themselves as
CEO--creating businesses dreamed of while working away in a cubicle. Boomers is too old, Gen Y is too young, Gen X
is just right -- blazing their own career path as entrepreneurs. The next five years should see a rise in
entrepreneurship as Gen X takes significant risks in an attempt at taking charge of their lives.
Consumer Segments Ages: 46-64
Baby Boomers have charged social and cultural revolutions and built
vast, far-reaching corporate empires. They have helped weave the
social, political and economic fabric of our country today. Their many Trend
achievements have made them one of the greatest generations of all Safety Net -- Boomers have seen their savings
time. Their wealth and influence is greater than any other generation plummet and many have put retirement on hold.
today. Some have even lost their jobs and health
insurance premiums are becoming more of an
Born between 1946 and 1964 (46 - 64 years of age) Baby Boomers are issue for this aging population. Many of the
80 million strong. The Boomer is the largest generation, with a constructs Boomers helped build are crumbling
population nearly doubles that of Gen X. Boomers are seated at the beneath them and security is a growing concern.
Whether it's airport security, job security, financial
very top of the worlds largest, most powerful companies and as security, Boomers are facing challenging times.
established career professionals, they have tremendous buying power.
In fact, approximately 70 percent of law firm partners are Baby
Boomers. They will cede their positions to to their Gen X children when
The 1960s is arguably one of the most defining cultural moments in
20th Century US history. Revolution was in the streets and intellect
shaped social change. Value Shifters included civil rights leaders, such
as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X or musical heroes, such as
the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. This revolutionary spirit has not faded
for Value Shifters. Value Shifters voted for Obama, were outspoken
opponents of water-boarding and believe the dual wars in the Middle
East are reminiscent of Vietnam.
While Gen X might work to live, the Boomer segment, Worker-Bees, • Population Size:
live to work. Gordon Gekko, the fictional Wall Street executive, perfectly 80 Million
personifies the Worker-Bee. As technology brings us closer to work and • Baby Boomers
each other, Worker-Bees -- just as Gordon Gekko -- embrace every have the largest
new innovation. Think of the typical buzzing Blackberry. As work is life, philanthropic
Worker-Bees also define their social status and personal value with population
their professional achievements. Moreover, the economic crisis is
putting Worker-Bees' retirement plans on hold -- as social security and
their 401ks' have shrunk.
More doing, less thinking. Independent Doers thrive on action --
whether it's leading a Fortune 100 company or charging political
movement or donating to charitable causes. With the you-can-do-it
spirit of the 1960s, Independent Doers demonstrate leadership,
confidence and courage in the face of defeat. Combined with their Brand Profile
larger pocket books and need for action, Independent Doers contribute
to many charitable causes -- both financially and through volunteerism.
With independence comes many challenges. Competitors go beyond
Independent Doers and thrive on the race. For instance, Enron's
shamed leader, Jeffery Skilling was a competitor and based his life on
winning -- always being a step ahead of everyone else. Competitors are
winners and as such, they are leaders of muli-national corporations.
Competitors are also considered Helicopter Parents -- who fight to pave
the right path for their children, such as enrolling them in exclusive
Boomers are hardworking, dedicated and driven. While their dreams might be on hold for a couple of
years, they will prevail. We should expect Value Shifters to push hard on political, economic and social
reform; Worker Bees to enjoy the prolonged rat race; Independent Doers to volunteer time over
donations; and Competitors to get back up and fight for their jobs and salaries.
About the Authors
We create purposeful
impact for the long-run
Sparxoo is pioneering the Sparxoo builds sustainable
next generation of business relationships while delivering
that is founded in the meaningful impact on
principles of: projects with a purpose.
• Social entrepreneurship We are expanding our
• Real responsibility network of socially minded
• Creative community leaders and hope to become
a leader in this category.
• Courageous leadership
We fuse left-and-right brain