Xennials: The new micro-generation and what you need to know

Do you know there’s a small micro-generation of people who sit in-between Generation X and Millennials? Xennials were born between 1977 and 1983, which makes them thirty somethings right now. They’re different to the generations before and after them, partly because of the huge shift in technology that happened at a crucial stage in their lives.

If you were born when Star Wars was released, you’re a Xennial

Xennials are caught in the cross fire of generations. Some research sources place a Xennial as Generation X and others define them as Millennials. The term Xennials recognises that this particular age group do not fit neatly into either generation.

“The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt-wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident.”

Dan Woodman, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne
Image source: Mashable

There’s a distinct technology gap between Generation X and Millennials. Xennials were in the unique position of having a traditional digital-free, analogue childhood but a digital adulthood – they had their first mobile phone in their early 20s when the technology boom hit. Millennials grew up with technology, whereas Xennials had to adjust to it in early adulthood.

“It was a particularly unique experience. You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones. It was a time when we had to organise to catch up with our friends on the weekends using the landline, and actually pick a time and a place and turn up there… We learned to consume media and came of age before there

We learned to consume media and came of age before there was Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and all these things where you still watch the evening news or read the newspaper”.

You may have watched Simon Sinek’s talk about Millennials, where he bluntly speaks of their self-entitlement, self-interest, lazy attitudes, growing up in a world where ‘every child wins a prize’ and how this has affected them as working adults. This is a very different mindset to Generation X.

We asked Lisa Duddington, our co-founder for her thoughts as she happens to be a Xennial!

“I find this new category quite exciting and something I can personally relate to! I’d say I identify myself more with Millennials than Gen X technology-wise, but I associate more with the attitudes of Gen X. There’s a definite cross-over with both. I was a teenager when my parents first got the internet but it was so awful to use back then – it was painful just to dial-up to get online nevermind use the horrendous looking websites! I was about 20 and at uni when I got my first mobile. I feel quite fortunate that I was able to enjoy my childhood, playing out with friends without the pressures of social networks and being permanently ‘plugged in’ but still young enough to fully adopt to technology when the shift happened”.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not everyone fits a mould. Your experience depends on factors such as your family’s wealth, technology adoption, gender, race, culture, etc. If you were a late Gen Xer with a wealthy family of early tech adopters, you may well feel more like a Millenial and vice versa.

How Xennial are you? try this quiz!

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The future of e-commerce: Generation Z

Intelligence, technology and digital culture: FutureEverything 2016

We’re always keeping an eye on current and future trends so when we heard the FutureEverything festival was in town we just had to go.

“The FutureEverything festival brings people together to discover, share and experience new ideas for the future” exploring the meeting point between technology, digital culture, society, art and music in the digital era. It has been named by The Guardian as one of the ten best festival ideas in the world and although the expectations were very high, we didn’t leave disappointed at all.

Intelligence in the digital era

The theme of the morning was intelligence in the digital era. How are technology and artificial intelligence changing our brain? With the huge amount of data and information now available, how do we make sense of it? How we can use this information to make better decisions?

The first speaker of the morning was Nelly Ben Haroun (head of experience at WeTransfer, Wired fella, creator of ISO, international space orchestra and designer of experience at SETI), a french ball of energy that built her career around the ultimate goal to transform ideas into projects that engage all kinds of audiences and transform the impossible into the possible.

She has been defined a ‘social sculptor’ and a ‘fusion between Andy Warhol and Albert Einstein’. She transforms ideas into experiences with the ultimate aim to engage people. She designs in terms of scope, scale and method of engagement, exploiting art, design, music and architecture.

During her speech she celebrated the critical design approach as the way for creating innovative products and for turning over preconceptions about the role that products play in everyday life. “Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.” Dunno and Raby

In other words: “Think outside the box”.

How are smart tools changing our brain?

This was another big question debated during the conference.

Let’s think about our memory. It has changed a lot with the advent of technology, smartphones and the internet. How many phone numbers do you remember by heart? Can you even remember your own mobile number? Now, think back to 10 years ago, how many could you recall simply by memory? Could you remember your close friends and family but now you wouldn’t know their numbers? You’re not alone.

Our memory is changing: “Relying on digital storage is changing our memories: increasingly we recall how to find information, and forget the specifics.” claimed Lydia Nicholas, the second speaker of the day, researcher anthropologist at Nesta. So our brains are changing to focus on information retrieval, not on the information itself.

Human brain
The plasticity of the human brain allows it to change throughout life and the digital environment in which we are living is affecting it all the time.

She claimed that: “We create tools but those tools re-create us as people.”

The longer term impact of smart tools and technology on our lives raises a lot of further questions that are difficult to answer: Who has the responsibility for it?  Is the interpretation of big data biased, limited or discriminating? How are new technologies impacting our human rights?

What emerged from all the experiences shared during the conference is that we are humans creating tools for humans and this is an undeniable aspect to consider in the design process of a digital product. “Thinking outside the box” still means to design for an audience and with that audience in mind.

The talks emphasised the importance of knowing “The audience” for whom you are creating a product and the importance of engaging with them during the design process not taking anything for granted at any steps of the creation process.

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The future of e-commerce: Generation Z

generation_z_technology_devices

The next up and coming wave of consumers are called generation Z. Born between the mid 1990s and 2010, these young people have been brought up with the internet and social networks. They are ‘Digital Natives’ and as a marketer or product owner you will need to approach this generation of consumer very differently. So, let’s learn more about them…

Who are Generation Z?

Right now they are aged between 4 and 19 years old.
They currently make up more than a quarter of the US population and this is still growing.
They spend nearly every waking hour online. 46% are connected 10+ hours per day!
They influence household purchases. You can’t just advertise to parents – Gen Z are major influencers of their parents decision making.
Tech savvy and heavy users of mobile. They’ve grown up in a digital world.
Always connected, especially to social networking channels.
High online spenders.

Prefer to shop online

Gen Z have been brought up with the internet and they prefer to buy just about everything online as opposed to offline. 20% of girls aged 12 and under regularly visit online shopping sites. The ability to easily make purchases online and delivering the right product information at the right time will be key.

Despite having very low incomes (think pocket money) Gen Z spend much more of their share of income online compared to previous generations. When this germination grows older and their income increases, they will drive major e-commerce growth.

Born to share

Gen Z have the ability to impact your brand via social like no generation before. They’ve been born and raised in a world of social websites. If they don’t like your website or product, they won’t call you, they’ll put it online so their connected web of contacts can see. They’re more likely to communicate with brands via social media and will be more demanding, they’ll tell you exactly how they feel. 77% will vent frustration of poor service over social media and expect an immediate response and resolution.

Listening and fast response will be key to managing this generation online. And to encourage this generation of sharers to share your content, you’ll need to ensure the content you create will be something Gen Z will enjoy – a fun brand voice, engaging content and incentives for sharing.

Traditional advertising won’t be as effective

A Forbes study claims that 57% of Zs saying they would rather save money than spend it immediately: “After seeing their parents lose jobs and their older siblings move back home, this generation will avoid debt. They’ll find the best deals and will expect to test out products physically or virtually before they buy.”

Gen Z will research everything themselves, turning to online reviews, bloggers and product experts to learn about products. Do you have a brand advocacy strategy? You will need to. By harnessing people who love your brand, and encouraging or incentivizing them to share their opinions online, you’ll provide a source of authentic information that Gen Z is likelier to trust.

Multi-screening and multi-tasking are the norm

They multi-task across at least 5 screens daily. “They suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) more than millenials, so being culturally connected is critical” researchers from Sparks and Honey wrote.

Mobile internet preferred

According to a survey by Ericsson, 58% of Gen Z prefer surfing the web on their mobile as opposed to watching TV.

High tech – Even the youngest age group (9-11 years) shows advanced technology adoption and mobile internet usage similar to their older brothers and sisters. 31% of US children aged 6-12 wanted an iPad over any other electronic device for christmas in 2010 (followed by a computer 29%, and iPod touch 29%) – gone are the days of wanting lego!

Respond more greatly to visual stimuli

A Wikia study shows that 54% visit YouTube multiple times a day. Visual sharing sites like Instagram and Snapchat are also huge avenues of communication for teens.

Marketers will need to start communicating visually to a diverse audience, across multiple screens.

Prefer simple, short, interactive content

Gen Z have the lowest attention span and they prefer media that is simple to use and interactive as opposed to passive TV. Getting and keeping their attention will be challenging though as they like to communicate in bite sizes. Easy to use and simpler platforms appeal to this generation.

Addicted to social networking

Many children now feel that social networking is more important than other aspects of their life, including their family. According to a study by the University of Maryland, 79% of children showed symptoms of distress when they were kept away from social networking devices.

Goodbye Facebook, hello Instagram

Every year, the amount of Gen Z leaving Facebook grows. 25% of 13-17 year olds left Facebook in 2014. They prefer visual platforms; the numbers joining Instagram grew from just 12% in 2012 to 23% in 2013. They also prefer incognito media platforms such as Snapchat, Secret and Whisper.

They want to change the world

60% of Gen Z want to have an impact on the world (compare this to 39% of Gen Y). 1 in 4 of those aged 16 or over currently volunteer. Globally, teens and their families, are changing their purchasing behaviour towards choosing environmentally responsible products and companies.

Not brand loyal

The products themselves and their quality are more important to Generation Z than brand names. Expect these consumers to switch to competitors much more quickly.

Obese

By 2027 most of the grown up Gen Zers will be obese (77.9% of males and 61.8% of females). 66% of kids aged 6-11 say online gaming is their main source of entertainment, so obesity comes as little surprise.

generation_z_interests

Some of the above slides are courtesy of Sparks and Honey. If you would like to read more about Generation Z we would recommend reading their full report: Sparks and Honey on Slideshare.

An inspiring Saturday at the first ever TEDx Salford!

This weekend saw the first ever TEDx event held in Salford and we were fortunate enough to get our hands on the last tickets. Having never been to a TEDx event before we weren’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be a day full of inspiring and uplifting talks on a whole range of topics by incredibly knowledgeable speakers. From rock stars and explorers to futurologists, CERN scientists and even an astronaut, the event really did have a wide variety of interesting speakers!

tedx salford

The first talk by Amnesty International’s Irene Khan was the hardest hitting. She spoke about human rights in other countries, in particular, women’s rights (or rather the lack of). It was eye opening and a stark reminder of how lucky we are. It was also uplifting to hear of how Irene’s work is making a positive change to many women’s lives.

The next two talks were both by explorers. Edward Stafford was the first person to walk the entire length of the Amazon river, you may have seen the TV documentary of his journey ‘Walking the Amazon’. His talk was incredibly engaging and entertaining. Unlike Ed who employs locals along his journey to accompany him which helps his safety, the following speaker, Benedict Allen, conducts all his explorations alone. Placing his trust in tribes he meets has both been a life saver and nearly resulted in his death on several occasions.

The futurist Anne Lise Kjaer (shown in the photo below) enlightened us into how the world will be more women-dominated in the future and how we will change from the current ‘me’ economy to a ‘we’ economy. The date on her slides showed 2020+ but we believe it will take much longer than this. Anne described an exciting prototype mirror being built right now that will enable self-diagnosis of things like skin, weight, dental and medical problems! As specialists in touchscreen interface design, we’re really excited about new technology developments such as this. These are the kinds of products we adore designing and usability testing – touchscreens will rule the future! In the meantime we hope the self diagnosis mirror doesn’t take too long to reach the market as we reeeeaaaally want one!

Anne Lise Kjaer

Trevor Cox is a sound scientist. His aim was to make us more aware of sounds in our everyday lives. Often sounds aren’t something we pay much attention to, but he played audio of a clap being made in different environments and there was a huge difference between the sounds with some not resembling a clap sound at all. We never realised there was such a large impact from the environment on the sound we actually hear.

Two musicians spoke at the event. Tom Hingley from Inspiral carpets (who’s roadie used to be Noel Gallagher!) talked about copyright in the music industry and John Robb (pictured below) who used to be in the punk band Goldblade captured us all with his very honest talk. He had no slides and no notes yet his relaxed style and his stories of the rock and roll days had everyone rooted to their seats and talking about it over lunch!

john robb

A couple of scientists from CERN explained their research on neutrinos. Neutrinos are the smallest particles to exist, they travel faster than the speed of the light, we have them inside every one of us and they can penetrate a block of lead 1 light year thick! Wow!

ronald garanHave you ever met an astronaut?

Well we are excited that we now have! Possibly the highlight of the event was Ronald Garan, a NASA astronaut all the way from Texas. He shared with us beautiful videos taken from space and tales from his journeys into space.

Other speakers at the event included Julie Summers (author and broadcaster) and Heather Witney (plant biologist) – did you know there is a plant that mimics rotting meat through it’s appearance and smell? it really is incredible how clever plants can be. We had to leave before the last few speakers came on but we managed to catch Dawn Gibbins (MBE and founder of Flowcrete) talk live online which made us wish we could have stayed! She had so much energy and passion and at the age of 50 is a true inspiration to women young and old. She had a great attitude to business.

Overall the day was full of enthusiasm, positive energy and the next day I awoke full of inspiration with lots of new ideas for Keepitusable. Keep an eye out for TEDx events near you. They are awesome!