Generation Buckets Have Become The New Astrology

Posted By Debbie on February 2, 2018

I recently saw a Gartner report (I think it was this one; I was just emailed a PDF) on the Future of Experience: Generation Z.

Generation Z

Generation Z are those born between 1995 and 2010. Here in Feb 2018, that would make them roughly between the ages of 7 and 22. I immediately have a problem with lumping that many varied times of young lives into a bucket. But I believe the idea of the report is that these people are the ones we’re designing for in the coming future.

Gartner would tell you they are movers and shakers who are already disrupting experiences.

And what does Gartner say about this group?

Starting from the top center, Generation Z is described as global, mobile, social, visual, prudent, green, innovative, entrepreneurial, self-educated, collaborative, sharers, inflencers, and in control.

Gartner continues to tell you that they’re into memes and converse with each other using lingo like bromance, yolo, and selfies.

This is starting to sound like an archaeologist writing about an ancient time in which she didn’t live. You’re alive now, Gartner. You don’t say bromance or selfies?

Gartner points out a few very young entrepreneurs and coding geniuses. Great, but hasn’t every generation had young entrepreneurs and tech geniuses?

The report also points to all the bloggers and vloggers making piles of money. Personally, I feel that bubble will burst when people realise these people are just constant paid ads… and advertising will have to evolve again.

Sounds like a horoscope. Who WOULDN’T define themselves as that?

Like a horoscope, it’s hard to boil everybody born not just in one month but in the span of 15 years all together.

Additionally, don’t you read that and say HEY THAT’S ME! I’m all those things! I’m prudent! I’m mobile.

Who isn’t that? Tell me about the entire generation who is local, non mobile, non social, non green, non-collaborative, non sharer (whatever that is), non innovative, and out of control. Said no one ever (watch me using that lingo!).

Tell me more, Gartner.

According to Gartner, Generation Z expects interfaces to be conversational, easily accessible, experiential, curated, shareable, secure, and controllable. Conversational AND visual. It’s like they’re using all of their senses!

Again, who doesn’t. I design for most of those now even thinking of grandmothers, people age 30, etc… Curated depends on the product or service. And conversational depends on that as well as I don’t believe everything should be conversational (but that’s another blog post). Gartner appears to think that “conversational” means info in short bits and chatbots (oh that’s another blog post too).

Obvious Conclusions

Gartner’s report ends with some obvious conclusions. Have a consistent brand. Tighten up security. Invest in tech to be more innovative. Make customers your evangelists (I remember advising clients on that in 2003). Make retail stores more of an interesting destination (sure, what’s left of them). More pickup options for buying without shopping the store.

It’s like reading a horoscope. Let’s look at my horoscope, my actual real horoscope Googled for the day I’m writing this post.

You probably won’t want to spend much time at home today, Aquarius. Most likely you’ll want to be out and about, perhaps at a large gathering, perhaps just strolling down a city street watching the people go by. Insights and revelations come to you that you’ll probably be able to make more sense of than you usually do, because mind and feelings are joined in a very effective partnership. Write your ideas down! Enjoy your day.

Holy cats, that couldn’t be more wrong. Happily home today. Live over an hour from a city with more than 100K people. Not into large gatherings basically ever. Insights and revelations have been great since getting off Facebook. Write my ideas down! Hey never thought of that! (sarcasm)

Not impressed

Not impressed with this report, not impressed with the people who pass it around. Not impressed with this bucketed generation and what we think we know about them. Some of them are age 7 right now. There is only so much we can imagine of the world they will live in when they have their own money and become serious shoppers in maybe 10 years, give or take.

In a world where “reports” tell me that Millennials mostly eat avocado toast, are drowning in college loan debt, but have $100K saved in the bank, but can’t afford to buy a house or a diamond, but buy anything a YouTube “influencer” says to buy… I just have to take all of these with grains of salt.

Use UX research to learn about YOUR customer and their real habits, motivators, values, etc… Way better than trying to lump people together like a daily Googled horoscope.