As a parent I’ve had a lot of experience delving into the mindset of one of the biggest market segments in the world.  Generation Y, sometimes called the Millenials or echo boomers, will significantly shape the way Boomers (like me)  work, shop and play.

There are a lot of forces shaping this huge demographic group, which includes those born between 1977 and 1997. They are our teens and young adults. With more than 80 million members, The Ys outnumber those in my generation by more than 3 million people.

Here is how the generations align in our history:

1901-1924 “G.I. Generation,” came of age during World War II and was known for its respect for government and its patriotism.
1925 – 1942 “Silent Generation,”  known for its post-war stoicism and its ability to take adversity in stride.
1946-1964 “Baby Boomers,” the largest generation of the past century, is credited for creating and defining the American middle class.
1965-1976, “Generation X,” a more independent and cynical generation.

So how do we define this Generation Y? And how are they shaping future trends for the rest of us? For one thing, we know that this generation is less likely to read a newspaper subscribe to cable or satellite television or own a land line.  They love brands and have an incredible purchasing power that those in other generations did not. They are more optimistic about their futures. They are techno-savvy and probably  the generation best prepared for globalization, but their employment expectations and work habits tend to rub older generations the wrong way.  (By the way, that last link about work habits is an excellent read if you are an employer.) Here’s a snapshot from this article about some common frustrations:

“They walk in the door on day one with very high expectations.”

“They don‟t want to pay their dues and climb the ladder.”

“They walk in the door with seventeen things they want to change about the company.”

“They only want to do the best tasks.”

“If you don‟t supervise them closely, they go off in their own direction.”

“It‟s very hard to give them negative feedback without crushing their morale.”

“They walk in thinking they know more than they know.”

“They think everybody is going to get a trophy in the real world, just like they did growing up.”

Each new generation brings its own challenges and unique gifts to the table, and understanding and relating to the emerging generation has always been the key to harmony. The reality is, we all need to do some research into this dynamic and unconventional group of young people who are leading the charge and changing the game.

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