Defining “young consumers” :: clichéd subcultures

When we talk about “Generation Y” or “young consumers” what do we really mean? Are we referring to just one segment? No, we’re grouping together a set of subcultures.

Young people are always very, very different from each other. Now more then ever.

Emo, Goth, Hipster, Prep, are cliched, but sometimes necessary ways to reference youth subcultures. These over-used those labels connect audiences to the types of music and clothing and world-views they have — how the group identifies themselves.

But how do we get deeper, and have a specific way for identifying demographic subcultures and talking about their unique behavior and attitudes?

Recently, I had the privileged of speaking with Jayne Dow, Planning Director at Critical Mass about how she sees a connection between youth behavior, and the types of industries they identify with (eg: automotive vs. travel brands). At Forrester, I have hoped to tap survey data to profile the multitude of youth subcultures. But this will take some time.

For now, Bruce Temkin and I have presented these two images to communicate to executives than when we say “Gen Y” we’re referring to a very diverse audience which are connected by their overriding mental, emotional, and social characteristics:

gen y subcultures graphic

gen y subcultures SLIDE

And for those characteristics, when it comes to Gen Y as a whole, they are: