Gen Y, or “Gen Wired” as we’ve dubbed them, are arguably the most powerful generation brands have seen with their sheer buying power and size – 1/3 Canadians are Gen-Y with a projected spending power of $2.5 trillion by 2019.
That’s said, the oldest of the group are now approaching 35 and over the next 5 years marketers will need to expand their focus to begin targeting the earliest of the next generation as they approach their post-secondary years. This next gen group is yet unnamed, and covers birth years beginning from the early 2000’s. If Gen Y is considered the wired generation, having grown up digital with access to cellphones, computers, internet and video games, then perhaps the incoming group will be considered the “Touch Generation” as consumer electronics shift to touch based platforms.
Touch technology became popular in the consumer space in 2010 with the introduction of the first generation iPad. PC’s, both desktop/AiO and notebook, have been moving towards touch as well – particularly since the release of Windows 8 in 2012 which was specifically built for touch. Latest model smartphones, tablets, and e-readers are nearly entirely touch screen as well. From birth, todays youngsters need to be exposed to technology, making them more tech-savvy than their seniors before they even reach JK.
Look around your local family restaurants and peek in to strollers and you’ll see that even toddlers are now 3 screen consumers, easily navigating touch screen interfaces across phone, tablet and PC. It is only a matter of time before touchscreen TV’s become a household staple; today’s toddlers already expect them to respond as they poke at the smart TV screen for their next pick on YouTube or Netflix.
This will be the first generation to use tech so liberally in the classroom, and it is a game changer. Technology in the classroom is a growing trend and area of opportunity for brands to capitalize on in establishing early preferences. Gone are the days of computer lab booking – Gen Y’s exposure to tech in elementary school days was limited to Oregon Trail on Apple Macintosh computers (which turned 30 this year!). Today’s youngest students now have access to “educational technology” right in their classroom providing them with access to a wealth of information, educational games, learning apps and more integrated into their tech-rich curriculum. The overhead projectors and bulky rollaway TV’s of the past with have been upgraded to SmartBoards and tablets. It is just a matter of time before pen and paper are replaced entirely, with even tests and exams shifting online.
By the time the bulk of this next generation hits college the traditional textbook as we know it will have become obsolete. The transition from paper to e-textbooks is already well underway. As the first group to navigate through this tech-based upbringing, it will be interesting to see what happens when these uber tech-savvy youngsters enter the workforce.