Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the Millennial Closet… Here come the Centennials!

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Annoying names for generations aside, one of the most interesting talks at the Millennial 20/20 conference recently was not in fact about Millennials but the next generation over… the Centennials.

Henry Tucker from Kantar Futures delivered a thought provoking presentation about this next generation who are already proving a disruptive force, and while we must acknowledge that within any cohort there are differences in attitudes and behaviours, and that we need to be careful not to over-generalize, here are some of the interesting insights he delivered on the day.

Centennials are classed as having been born from 1997 to present day. They make up over 1/3 people on the planet. 25% of the US and over half the population of emerging markets

They already have huge spending power, $92 billion dollars in the US alone with considerable influence over the pocket of mum and dad, as I can full well attest to!

And while you may think they may they are just an extension of their Millennial counterparts, you would be wrong.

They are growing up in what he refers to a V.U.C.A world: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. They are more stressed, feel more pressured and more at risk and this has given them a very different outlook on life.

25% Centennials
“I am very likely to be at risk of being discriminated against or persecuted on grounds of gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation”

21% Centennials
Strongly agree. “I suffer from stress nowadays”

While digitally savvy Millennials have been shaped by the promise of the 90’s boom, discovery and opportunity through globalisation and the ability to discover online: Digital dependent Centennials are shaped by this volatile and uncertain world, proliferation of diversity and the ability and pressure to always be connected.

There are however two areas where Centennials and Millennials values are aligned.

1. Purpose Driven
There will be even more demand on brands to be purpose driven. Brands must be progressive and forward thinking. The role they play in both local and global community will be crucial to this generation.

2. Experience seeking
This generation will always be seeking for new experiences that will liven up everyday activities.

So what are the big differences?

Henry outlines 3 core values that shape the Centennial mindset:

1. Realism
Centennials have grounded, realistic expectations for themselves and the way the world works. They don’t have the idealism of the Millennials.

2. Resilience
Centennials have learnt that hard work and grit are the keys to success in today’s world. If I want something I can get it! Hard work is how I will be successful.

3. Openness
Centennials give themselves and others permission to be themselves and express their differences.

This is a hyperaware generation, wise beyond their years, where technology is both a friend and an enemy. There is more emphasis on being genuine and true to yourself – I am who I am! – and there are no apologies for this, as well as a desire to get back to more caring times. Raised in a recession and access to everything has made this generation careful, informed consumers.

So what does this all mean for today’s businesses?

Henry’s challenge to business today is that it needs to drastically change in order to meet the needs of the generations of
the future.

Profits of 700 of the top multinationals have dropped by 25% in 2016, while smaller, local business profits have increased. Old ways of doing business won’t yield profitable margins. You need to force yourself on to the world of tomorrow and find a way to generate profitable growth.

He presented the audience with 3 ‘what if’ scenarios, one of which it outlined below to give you a taster of how business might need to change:

What if…
Your communication has always been more visual and verbal 😆😭😎

What if…
Your attention filter is highly honed and you don’t tolerate any friction in the experience

What if…
You expect seamless integration between platform and apps as a minimum.

Yesterday’s assumption:
Brand with best product wins

Centennial disruption:
Facilitator between brands wins. See GO JEK and Crabble as two businesses playing successfully in this space

With drastically changing generational attitudes and the continued disruption of technology, many businesses have become reactionary and short-term focused in order to try to anchor themselves in an ever changing world, but to survive, business needs to do more to find new pathways and map new trajectories. So is it time you started to challenge your business model and re-imagine your brand, product and service through the eyes of this next generation. How future focused are you? After all it won’t be long until these Centennials are your workforce and your customers and the next generation of disruptors come along.

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AUTHOR: MICHELLE FERO

Michelle is our Client Services Director and firmly believes that for brands to succeed, clients need implicitly to trust their agency; which is why she makes it her mission to ensure excellence in strategic thinking, creative and project delivery so that her Clients can get on with the business of building their brands.

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