The (fr)agile reality of the Next Generation
While the clicking and whooshing sound of a modem connecting to the internet feels like a nostalgic tune for older Millennials, NextGen does not know a world without googling things. It’s a generation whose online social presence surpasses their offline identity and the act of lifecasting or live broadcasting (with or without a playful Snapchat filter) is part of their daily routine. Being their core device, smartphones function as their arm’s extension, allowing them to be always on, always connected, making PCs, music players and even wallets obsolete.
These youngsters, capturing both Generation Z and their young Millennial counterparts, grew up in a world where information reaches them at a blink of an eye, where they instantly get notified if something happens, good or bad, far or near.
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Through this boundless connectedness, they have seen a fragile image of the world as well as the consequences of natural disasters, poverty, global health problems and the war on terror. And this distorted perfect picture is also visible inside the home, as they are the offspring of the divorce generation. They have experienced the rise of the family 2.0, where single-parent, multi-generational, newly-composed and same-sex households are shaping the new home. More and more Millennials are having (involuntary) childless lives because of fractured relationships or delayed settling. This phenomenon is expected to hit NextGen even more, with forms of otherhood emerging to fill the gap of delayed or non-motherhood.
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Although today’s youth is growing up in an agile world with boundless (technological) possibilities, the level of fragility is high because of the unstable environment surrounding them. While their older Millennial counterparts grew up with an “Is the world ready for you” mindset, these youngsters grew up with the cautious motto “Are you ready for the world”, with a realistic take on what they (can) expect from life, their future career and even relationships. And even though the overall quality of life is increasing every year, they are expected to be the first generation worse off than their parents, with only 29% saying not to be worried about their future.
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With the youngest of them now at the age of seven, NextGen as a generation will definitely shape the future of the world as well as that of brands. Not only will they be the key consumer group for years to come, today, in the current flatage society, they already have a major influence on what is purchased, from food to holiday destinations, within the household.
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