Meet the Post-Millennials
It’s time we stopped using the term ‘Millennials’ for young people. Unless we consider 25-40 young. Today’s teens and early 20s are a new generation, very different from their older siblings. Some call them Gen Z. I hate the term. I prefer the DIY Generation. But for the sake of clarity, I refer to them as Post Millennials. But whatever you call them, it’s time to take notice. They’ve got strong, unique attitudes. And if they’re not your customers today, they certainly will be tomorrow.
1. Future Fear
Post Millennials (PMs) are one of the most anxious young generations we’ve ever seen: exhibiting record levels of depression, stress and self harm. They’ve grown up with heavy educational and career pressure, a ‘fear’ culture and a Recession. Eight out of 10 say getting good grades or succeeding in their chosen career is top priority. According to one recent survey, they’re more aware of The Wall Street Journal than Vice magazine. As tomorrow’s consumers, they’ll be concerned with the future, risk averse and fiscally conservative.
2. Do It Ourselves
Unlike Millennials, who grew up in the Reality TV, Dotcom Billionaire era of overnight success, PMs are aware they have an uncertain future, and don’t believe they can rely on anyone to help. They have a more DiY mentality. As customers they’ll prefer enablement to spoon-feeding. As employees, they’ll be far from the ‘entitled’ Millennial employees that many employers complain about. Eight out of 10 want to be their own boss, and many will be. Those that choose salaried work will have an entrepreneurial attitude, and will likely expect – and thrive on – autonomy and responsibility.
DIY doesn’t mean ‘do it alone’. In fact, PMs are even more communally-oriented than the Millennials. They view Framily (friends and family) as key. They’re happy to spend leisure time with parents, enjoy family holidays and are in no hurry to leave home. As future consumers, they’ll value ‘family values’, family-owned companies, and brands that treat their customers like family.
4. Just Say No
If you thought Millennials were less hedonistic than previous generations, wait til you see meet the PMs. Rates of drinking, recreational drug taking and teen pregnancies are crumbling. Expect food to overtake drink as their premium passion, and traditional bar culture to decline as tomorrow’s leisure consumers seek more ‘innocent’ fun.
5. Just Say No More
Growing up with ubiquitous technology and innovation has made PMs iconoclastic. As consumers they’ll be less bound by ‘conventional’ ways of doing or purchasing. They already spend as much time on their phones as adults do watching TV. They’re less interested in ‘classic’ status symbols like cars or watches. They love Oreos’ and Doritos’ use of unusual flavours. Don’t assume they’ll do something just because ‘everyone always does’. Look at PM actress Kristen Stewart, showing her contempt for Cannes Film Festival’s rule that women must wear high heels on the red carpet, by deliberately taking hers off as she walked onto it.
As status symbols lose their shine, so too may physical objects: as car manufacturers are finding to their cost. This will be compounded by: their having lived through an ‘upgrade’ era, the rise of rental and streaming services, consumers reaching ‘peak stuff’, and smaller homes meaning less storage space. Welcome to a new age of access-ship over ownership.
7. Value For Time
Living through the Recession at an early age has made PMs more savvy. They have a sophisticated approach to value. It’s not just about cheapness. They appreciate value for time as well as value for money. Convenience and service will become key consumption drivers. They may also be more willing to pay for previously ‘free’ products and services than Millennials: as long as they’re good quality, easy to use and genuinely beneficial. That’s already proving profitable for Spotify and Netflix. And it could help publishers pushing subs and paywall models.
8. Time For Values
Although fiscally conservative, PMs are typically socially progressive. They have more diverse, less binary tastes. They’re more ‘both and’ than ‘either or’. As customers, they’ll care less about traditional gender and race boundaries. They’ll value honesty and transparency. They’ll champion sustainability, diversity and compassion: from transgender politics to veganism. CSR will become a hygiene factor.
9. Quick To Judge
PMs have grown up in a ‘noisy’ environment, full of choice and multiple marketing messages. As a result, they’ve learned to make quick choices based on speed-scanning information. It’s part of their unique ability to problem solve: something honed by a childhood of video gaming. As customers, they’ll seek lots of data, but will want it quick and easy to absorb.
10. Digital Naysayers
Don’t be fooled into thinking that, because they’re digital natives, PMs love technology unequivocally. They actually like face to face contact and bricks and mortar retail, as much as they do virtual contact and e-commerce. Many are seeking out ways to ‘switch off’ from tech. Their favourite leisure activities are often low tech. When it comes to music, for instance, they may like Spotify but they love vinyl, and now cassettes (yes, that’s the next trend!). Retro products and pursuits evoke a simpler, more ‘honest’, safer era. That’s three things PMs love. And three things they’ll love as tomorrow’s consumers.