What Parents Need to Know About Marketers

This past weekend there was an article in the LA Times about the generation gap betvisa_small.jpgween X and Y. It was an interesting article and I wanted to write a post highlighting and de-emphasizing some of their points for parents. After all, parents should know what marketers think about their kids.

The article was about youth marketer Jane Buckingham and her ideas about the Net-Generation. I think some of these convictions are not only important for fellow marketers but also, for parents to better understand their kids. Below, I have summarized the really, really long article into a few good take-home points for you.

For Parents: Buckingham’s Ideas About Generation Y

(from the article “The X/Y Factor” by Rachel Abramowitz, Los Angeles Times)

“I want what I want. I want it when I want it. And I want it how I want it.”

Take-Home For Parents: We are much more likely to do something if we had a hand in creating it/delivering it/coming up with it. So let us make our own chore schedule and we will be more likely to stick with it, ask us to help us decide what is for dinner and we will be more likely to eat it.

“Everyone can have an iPod, but all have different playlists: ‘I want to be different just like my friends.’”

Take-Home For Parents: Maintaining individual style within a group identity is an important part of our culture. Let us express our own style and flares…even though you might not love all black or a skirt with jeans, if we are not hurting anyone, let us try it out.

“You’re willing to give up privacy if it makes your life as 16-year-old easier for social planning.”

Take-Home For Parents: Parent’s idea of privacy and teen’s idea of privacy is totally different, we often do not feel we are giving up our privacy even if you do.

“As a people, we’re anxious. As marketers, we’re anxious…They’re not watching TV the way they used to watch…So many older models are changing.”

Take-Home For Parents: It really is different now! Many parents freak out that they do not understand and make a lot of rules or blow up because they are afraid. Before doing this, do your research, ask the school, look online, *ask me! And then talk to them from an educated perspective on whatever you are worrying about in your child’s life.

“Xers are realistic and pessimistic, independent, commitment-phobic. The younger Ys, ages 14 to 28, are entitled and optimistic.”

My Caveat for Parents: Just because we are more optimistic, does not necessarily mean we are less realistic. I believe we are optimistic about buying things, trying things and spending time or money, but we do more research than previous generations.

“Ys often show up and think, ‘What are you going to give me?’ while their elder co-workers and bosses are wondering, ‘What is wrong with these people?'”

Take-Home For Parents: We have been groomed to find the silver lining, learn from mistakes, take advantage of every situation, find resume and application value in all experiences and activities…I do not necessarily think the “what are you going to give me?” attitude is a bad thing just make sure this attitude is followed by: “and what can I give you too?”

“’Permalancing’ is where everything, including jobs, homes and relationships, is viewed as a temporary way station until something better comes along.”

Take-Home For Parents: Unfortunately true, this does seem to be our attitude, it is coupled with the one above, we are constantly evaluating, “is this good for me? What can be better?” if not, we move on.

“[Their] spongy moral code that differs sharply from that of their ‘peerents,’ their mothers and fathers who often act like their contemporaries.”

Take-Home For Parents: I personally think this gives us way too little credit, just because our moral code is different, it does not mean it is ‘spongy’ or non-existent. Yes, we are different from our parents in many ways. The problem is parents often try to fill-in what they perceive as holes in our moral outlook. Instead, parents should listen and talk to teens about what our code is and then teach us by example. (Many parents have no idea what their kid’s ideas are about life, ethics and morality, but we do have these thoughts).

What these kids like in a celebrity is “authenticity,” a person who actually has “flaws.”

Take-Home For Parents: It is actually good for us to see the flaws in our parents; no one is perfect. Fighting in front of your kids, teaches us about healthy communication and lets us know it is ok to have faults and you are a real person, not just a ‘mom’ or ‘dad.’

“[This] generation is always trying to find the easy way out, not the right way. [They] have a different idea of what passes as a work ethic. [They] freak out if [they] make mistakes.”

Take-Home For Parents: As I said above, we are uncomfortable with our mistakes, we want to work and have it done right…but as quick and painless as possible. As a generation where everything travels at light speed and efficiency is the name of the game, we like our work to go as quickly as possible as well.

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No Responses to “What Parents Need to Know About Marketers”

  1. Greg Cohen
    January 3, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    I think your analysis of this article is dead-on. I have read a number of these articles explaining the difference between Gen X’s and Y’s and I think often these articles simply take a 3rd-party view on these issues and outline the differences between the generations instead of showing ways to compensate for these different attitudes.

    I think that this list is important for recently-graduated college students or even more important for their almost-graduated counterparts who are in the their last months of college. Being able to recognize one’s own personality traits in those Gen Y ‘stereotypes’ will help many people to pick appropriate job/career paths and environments for those first years out of college.

  2. Vanessa
    January 3, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    Thanks Greg!
    You are absolutely right, it is really crucial for recent grads and people new to the workforce to understand their personality quirks AS WELL as the stereotypes that older management might have on them so that they can either counteract it or show them another aspect of their personality.


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