Just when advertisers felt they'd mastered the Millennial generation, along came a new challenge. Gen Z - people born in the late 1990s and now roughly ages 13 to 17 - is the new holy grail for marketers.
What if we hired 10,000 people to run through malls and city streets, screaming our brand names in teenagers' faces?
What's a side hustle? As a Millennial, I'm no stranger to peers who focus their energies on passions beyond their day jobs. Playing or writing music, making videos, baking cupcakes or blogging have become popular Millennial side hustles, which offer creative outlets aside from today's insecure "traditional career paths" in an underwhelming job market.
The first iPhone was announced and hit shelves way back in 2007-before the term "Gen Z" had taken hold-launching the world into an era of always-on digital connectivity. Fast-forward nearly a decade and the iPhone is still the gold standard of smartphones, despite vastly increased competition in the industry.
What do Frank Ocean, Louis CK and Beyonce have in common? This year, they all surprised their young fans with major new releases. Last month, Frank Ocean ended a four-year wait by casually dropping two albums, one visual (Endless) and the other musical (Blonde). In January, Louis CK stunned fans by debuting a new TV series online, "Horace and Pete." And Beyonce is definitely the queen of surprise, dropping two unannounced visual albums (Beyonce in December 2013, and Lemonade this April), before doing a hush-hush, extended performance at the MTV VMA's last month, which brought down the house.
When we think about how teens spend their time, a lot of us imagine them face down in their devices, vegging out on the couch, or, increasingly, a little bit of both. That image isn't totally askew; after all, recent research shows that teens 13-18 spend almost 9 hours a day consuming media.
Let me let you in on a little pet peeve of mine: Rushing the end of summer. You know who is the most guilty of this? You are. Yeah, sure, marketers want to get in front of customers early and often and that's totally cool, but talking about back to school in July is a little too much. But it gets worse. My local grocery store has end-caps up for Halloween. In August. Seriously, can we ratchet things down a little and let summer roll on at its normal lazy pace?
We're in the home stretch of the 2016 election, and it's not just the Presidential candidates working on their campaigns. Brands from all categories, from automakers to fast food chains, are capitalizing on this spike in public interest around politics with ads that reference issues and poke fun at the political circus.
Every generation is faster-living than the one before it. The rise of digital, mobile and social media has fueled an explosion of high-risk behavior. And with drug culture permeating society, teens are using controlled substances more than ever before.
Ask any parent today and they'll likely tell you how hard it is to get a teenager to do anything. One could argue that this is hardly unique to this particular generation of teenagers, but rather, part of the universal adolescent experience.