Gen Y, meet Gen Z

How do the children of Millennials differ from their parents (and Boomer grandparents) as consumers of the future? Here’s a comment I recently posted on RetailWire:

The article points out the many differences that separate Gen Z even from their Millennial (or Gen X) parents. It’s most important for retailers and marketers to consider that technology is like breathing to this group of current and future consumers, and rapid tech changes tend to be embraced rather than pushed away.

This may be the first generation since the Boomers that takes for granted new ways to consume goods and services. Boomers grew up getting information from TV and were no longer bound to shopping “downtown” as malls and discounters spread nationwide. There are parallels to Gen Z, and marketers need to figure this out while still catering to the consumption patterns of their parents and grandparents.

And here are some later thoughts specifically about Millennial spending patterns:

Eventually Millennials’ spending power will surpass Boomers’ on the basis of sheer numbers. And as more younger consumers move into their home-buying and child-rearing years, they will find that they will need to buy “stuff” (not just experiences)…just like their parents did. Meanwhile, the tables may have turned with Boomers’ diminished appetite for products, especially if their disposable income is pinched by lack of savings or tight retirement income.

As the article suggests, the other key issue is how to reach each group of customers. Boomers are probably still receptive to “old media” (TV, newspapers) for all the online shopping that they do. Their children want to receive their information in a completely different way, and any marketer not yet embracing mobile marketing is not following the money.

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