Generation Y (“Gen Y”) is America's newest generation and typically represents the millions of people born between 1982 and 2005, although there is no official consensus on the beginning or end term. Sometimes referred to as the Millennium Generation, Gen Y consists of younger individuals brought up under the influences of the Baby Boomer generation and the period of social idealism. Common wisdom holds that Millennials, as they are sometimes called, have been taught to make a difference, as classroom activities for much of this generation typically featured staged mock elections, community service projects, and recycling drives. While this kind of upbringing has led to a strong sense of civic investment and social responsibility, it has also led to a hefty sense of entitlement and lower threshold for criticism among Gen Y individuals. Further, research shows that this generation demonstrates an extreme short-term focus—their primary expectation in life is to complete their education—whereas long-term expectations and concerns are typically beyond their scope.
Generations are defined by the events and circumstances experienced by their members during their formative childhood and teenage years; traits seen as common across a generation typically develop as a result of the social attitudes and subjective norms that exist at the time. Children that came of age during the late 1990s and early 2000s did so at a time when there was tremendous reinvestment in parental involvement and childhood development, as well as a burgeoning of technology and the advent of the Internet. Gadgets that were popular novelties for previous generations (e.g., cell phones, electronic organizers, cable radio, and MP3 players) became the basic staples of life for Gen Y individuals. Because of the higher expectations they have for themselves and others, coupled with the technological sophistication they possess relative to prior generations, Gen Y is considered to be potentially the most high-performing generation ever to hit the workforce.
Gen Y is a group that also demonstrates a high aptitude for multitasking, especially when it comes to using multiple forms of technology and communication. They are often able to perform several actions at once, such as watching television, browsing the Web, listening to music, and talking or texting on the phone. Having been raised in a more media-saturated world than their parents (Gen X), Gen Y consumers also tend to be more brand-conscious but unresponsive to traditional marketing media. In addition, research shows brands that were popular with Gen X are typically rejected by this generation of consumers. One major reason for this is the type of modern advertising techniques and positioning strategies used by Gen Y brands to capture the attention of Gen Y in places where they commonly gather (e.g., Internet, live music events, mobile media, cable TV).
Because of the approximately 76 million people that fall into the Gen Y category, Millennials have a significant impact on spending and consumption patterns. For example, research conducted by the Wonder Group estimates total spending influenced by Gen Y to be more than $260 billion annually. Gen Y is thus seen as a significantly influential group with the sheer numbers to transform every stage of life it enters.
Advertising, Brand Awareness, Brand Preference, Consumer Behavior, Demographics, Gen X.
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