Archives For Gen Y


Ask any generation throughout the ages if they love their parents, and their answer will be “yes”, of course.  Well, practically every generation. Gen X may answer in a way that make many of us uncomfortable!  But Gen Y* really loves their parents.  The rebellious baby-boomers who paved their way (and still do) with pomp and protest, are raising a generation who argue considerably less than they did with their parents and pave their direction with little if any fanfare.

Not pressured to prove or move.  Moving back home after college is the new normal.  85% of current college grads are moving back in with their parents, and not only because of the challenging job market they find themselves in upon leaving school.  Even prior to the recession, 67% made the decision to move back into their childhood room, and the comfort, convenience and care of their parents.  Unlike generations before them, the status quo is something they can live with – at least for awhile.  In Europe they are in favor of the same benefits that have been around for a long time, although the economic reality makes this highly unlikely.

Consider their non-engagement as much as their engagement.  They make themselves seen and heard through their sheer numbers, not by calling attention to themselves.  In the 2008 US Presidential elections, Gen Y showed up in mass to elect President Barack Obama.  Their engagement was expected, and they delivered.  Equally powerful, was their protest through non-engagement in the 2010 US mid-term elections.  In both cases by showing up or passing, they drove the shift, and will continue to so.

Discover their subtleties, rather than make assumptions.  Frankly, they are too thoughtful and polite to be rebels in the traditional sense – but they will execute their power to turn towards or away in huge numbers.

*Failure to connect may result in obsolescence. 


Gen Y* is an innovation generation on a fashion metabolism.  So as often and as fast as product flows into their favorite fashion retails stops, so should technology and innovation.  Consumption of it is a basic need – like water and air.  And similar to these life sustaining elements it should be “free” too.  Albeit a part of life they simply are unable to live without -  it’s not worth talking about. They won’t acknowledge it – unless it’s missing.

They expect it, they trust it and it has many faces.  Although cast in a major role in their lives, it’s not always about technology.  Often times innovation is simply something they didn’t see last week.  A new denim wash, a fresh pattern, or a new color.

Leverage technology in a way that makes sense.  Keep in mind it is not enough to keep them interested and engaged.  Stay committed to an ongoing conversation, be relevant, be authentic, and don’t be late.  They have grown up in an “and also” world.  Think – yes it works, and…

*Failure to connect may result in obsolescence. 


What worked for their parents, won’t work for Gen Y*.  They are postponing and in many cases passing over previous rites of passage that heralded adulthood – fulltime job, owning a car, buying their first home, marriage and family.  21% are married, compared to over 40% of their parent’s generation.

A fundamental shift in values. This is not a passing fad that will disappear with economic improvement, or even with age.  This value shift is permanent, and will require those wanting to do business (and who doesn’t?) with this generation to also make a shift in it’s approach, terms and offerings.  Home ownership, once seen as a fundamental right of passage is on the decline.  Even with some of the lowest interest rates on record, Gen Rent is changing the face of what makes a home and community as they choose not to take the path that has burdened and burned their parents and their older siblings.

Flexiblity and freedom win.  Renting versus owning provides them with the flexibility they are so accustomed to in other parts of their lives.  Automobile ownership which provided the boomers with their very first taste of independence and freedom is not as relevant to Gen Y.  Their smartphones in many ways are their keys to the open road.  Connecting without a car is more than possible, it is preferred.  Their migration to cities for culture and convenience also plays a part.  There aren’t many in any generation who find the car-dealership experience rewarding, but for Gen Y it is extremely obsolete and something to be avoided at any cost!

They will drive, live in their own homes and have families.  As with everything they touch, it will be different.  Get to know them, create for them, make with them – from car-share to just-about-everything share, new models of retail, marriage and career profiles.  They may eventually move to the suburbs, but it most definitely will not be their parent’s suburbia.

*Failure to connect may result in obsolescence. 


With unlimited choice a constant presence for Gen Y*, comes a reluctance to decide.  With so many possibilities, risk seems unnecessary.  If risk can be avoided, than so can failure.  From a simple purchase to deciding where to work, commitment becomes more complex for this generation, in large part due to the overwhelming options they face everyday.

Avoid risk, avoid failure.  Being the “first” or the “only” is not a priority for Gen Y.  Opinions of their parents and their trusted network of friends (often times numbering in the thousands on social networks) matter most.  Encouragement and assurance to explore the unknown often times comes from their parents.  This is a reversal from previous generations where kids pushed their elders to try what was new.  Standing out in a crowd is not important, and a “let’s look different together” results.  From a fashion perspective this is a uniformed approach, with color, materials, prints and patterns being the subtle differences.

Certainty, in uncertain times.  Provide them a safety net, help them decide.  A fearless shopping experience, with tighter limits and good guidance helps them make sense of the unlimited choices available.  Minimize their risk through generous warranty and return policies that are convenient and hassle-free.  In the workplace – flexibility, transparency, engagement and fun will provide the cultural fit they crave and the assurance they need to commit.  Above all don’t forget to sell to their parents.

Gen Y’s exposure to what is out there is vast, and they will continue to search for the place, product or experience that is a fit before making any commitment – big or small.

*Failure to connect may result in obsolescence. 


The Cast loves Gen Y*, and one of the main reasons is their optimism.  Famously transparent, and relentlessly hopeful, they are committed to creating opportunities and options for themselves despite the challenging economic times and confidence draining job market they have encountered.  They still believe it’s going be ok and that they will catch up economically – although there is increasing evidence that they won’t.

They prefer not to take things too seriously. So lighten up and keep things simple.  Communications are best when they’re straight forward and preferably entertaining.  Not to mention short, no more than two sentences if possible and less than 140 characters!  Working in a fun, social and caring environment trumps all else professionally.  If they do take a job within a company, the expectation is that the company will “do good by all”, people and planet.

They are born entrepreneurs.  They have grown up with parents saying they “can do anything”.  Bringing tremendous creativity and high energy to businesses in the startup phases.  Yes, they will need help learning how to finish, sustain and scale, but their lack of experience in finishing should not be a reason to exclude them in the starting.  Their deep commitment to creating something of lasting value together with their optimism, makes for a perfect fit for businesses in need of new ideas, innovation and challenging the status quo.  Include them in strategy and planning sessions that historically are reserved for those with more experience.

Their optimism can be mistaken for over-confidence, and certainly there is a bit of both.  But as our world becomes more risk averse, and experience can be cursed by history, Gen Y provides a fresh, naive and tell-it-like-is perspective that can energize and reinvent at key junctures.  We welcome your thoughts, ideas and experiences to our discussion.

*Failure to connect may result in obsolescence. 


With unprecedented global unity and influence, Gen Y* presents tremendous opportunities to businesses who create with, market to and innovate for them.  Brands that get it are committed to this powerful generation, and listen and watch with laser focus.  Fail to connect, and risk obsolescence. This series of insights will help you connect and hopefully fall in love with this next great generation!

My husband’s Uncle Auer always sat at the kids table during family gatherings, he said that everyone else was boring.  He lived to be 90… and taught me, “if you want to know the real story” sit at the kids table.  These kids aren’t all kids anymore, the oldest will soon reach 30, the youngest 14.  There are a lot of them, 1.7 billion worldwide.  77 million in the US.  340 million in China alone!

They define and control everything they touch.  They are never disconnected, and are influenced by a constant stream of – everyone.  From knowing what their friends are doing by the minute, and remembering whether they want to or not.  This may include knowing what that guy they didn’t really “like” in high school had for lunch.  I believe they are “trend trackers” at the most grassroots level. It’s time to ask them, tap into them and include them. Looking for connections, culture and convenience they are living in cities in record number.  Only 14% live in rural areas, compared to 29% of Baby Boomers and 36% of the Silent Generation.

Over the next few weeks we will share 6 key insights to help make connections that are relevant, sustainable and authentic.  Pull up a seat at the kid’s table and let us hear your thoughts!