[Tweet your original or favorite idea for naming the post-Millennial generation, and tag it with #TheNewIsWho.]
In his commencement speech to Stanford’s class of 2005, Steve Jobs encouraged graduates to ignore dogma, follow their intuition, stay hungry, stay foolish, and remember that youth is fleeting:
Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
At the time, Jobs was addressing one of the first graduating classes of Millennials. Today, brands and the media are obsessing over them, and for good reason. With a collective purchasing power larger than any generation before them, estimated to be $200 billion annually by 2017, Millennials are the current “it” generation for marketers.
But, as Jobs wisely cautioned, Millennials, as with any generation, will become passé. This begs the multibillion-dollar question: if Millennials were the New, then who, exactly, is the new New?
While not yet fully defined, the population waiting in the generational wings is beginning to take shape, and some youth-oriented brands are taking note. At last year’s TV upfronts, for example, Nickelodeon announced new programming appealing to the post-Millennial generation.
What’s in a Name?
Every generation definition starts with a birth year or range. For simplicity’s sake, I’m defining the post-Millennial generation as anyone born from 2001 to whenever the next cutoff is (2021, perhaps?) because 2001 was such a pivotal year in recent history. It’s a fitting beginning for a new generation.
Beyond the start date, every generation deserves a slick new name that sticks and looks good in a headline. The naming process is already underway. In 2012, USA Today launched an online “name the next generation” contest, and, as you’d expect, many of the names submitted were technology-focused: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Net Gen, Digital Natives. The current favorite seems to be iGen, a clear homage to Apple’s product line.
Brands, too, are getting in on the action. According to USA Today, executives at Taco Bell commonly refer to the post-Millennial generation as Gen Wii, a reference to the Nintendo gaming console. Brian Niccol, former Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer and now President at Taco Bell, described the reasoning: “This is the generation that makes a game out of everything. For them, life is a game.” The name, Niccol says, is “shorthand for connectivity.”
Other suggested names steer clear of technology. The consulting firm Magid Generational Strategies went with the Pluralist Generation, or Plurals. “The first generation of the 21st Century is the last generation in America that will have a Caucasian majority,” said Sharalyn Hartwell, the company’s Executive Director. “This unprecedented transition to a multi-cultural, pluralistic society will be a major aspect of their lives.”
Plurals sounds pretty cool. It’s much better than other candidates I’ve heard, like Homeland Generation – which gained some popularity after the 9/11 attacks — and far superior to Generation Z, an obvious rip-off of Gen X and about as clever as adding “gate” to the end of a word to signify a scandal.
Regardless of online contests and research reports, we’ll come to a consensus organically. A name that ultimately resonates best with us all, and succinctly and accurately describes the mores, attributes, and destiny of this next generation will rise to the top. So, I encourage you to enter the conversation. Tweet your post-Millennial generation names and tag them with #TheNewIsWho. The beauty is that the name can come from any one of us, at any time. But we should hurry: they’re not getting any younger.