Naming the Next Generation Speaker Q&A: Neil Howe

On June 26th Ypulse will be Naming the Next Generation. Neil Howe, author, historian and generational guru, will be joining us in our quest to find a name for post-Millennials that fits their unique generational experience. Neil has been a pioneer in generational theory, writing nine books on American generations.  Along with William Strauss, he first coined the term “Millennials,” describing this generation with remarkable foresight as far back as 1991. We can think of no one better to help us to name the next generation, in fact, we wouldn't have dreamed of trying without Neil's help. Today Neil tells us about why we need to move away from the term “Gen Z,” how post-Millennials will be the oldest group to not recall a time before the Great Recession, and how this generation could be like Millennials ... on steroids.
 
Ypulse: What do you think is the biggest difference between Millennials and post-Millennials?
Neil Howe: I think it’s important to establish what we mean when referring to “Millennials” and “post-Millennials.” My definition for “post-Millennials” includes those born after 2004, so these are kids currently just entering grade 2 of elementary school. Yes, that date remains tentative. You can’t be sure where history will someday draw a cohort dividing line until a generation fully comes of age into adulthood. But since there are good reasons why social generations tend to be 20 or so years long, I am naturally suspicious of a definition that abruptly limits Millennials to only 10 or 15 birth years.
 
Right now, the biggest difference is the emphasis on socialization, pushed on them largely by their Gen-X parents and teachers. Post-Millennials are being taught from a very early age to inhibit their impulses, control their behavior, and play well with others. This goes…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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