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Next Generation Change Agents

Correct me if I’m mistaken, but never can I remember seeing so many businesses focusing their top priorities on all things related to the next generation.

Many of us used to look around and think, “When will these people retire?” — because this was how we saw our opportunities for career advancements. Yes, merit and accolades were all-important in moving up the ladder, but if there were no open positions, then our options were to wait it out or move on to another job. We in the next generation certainly weren’t yet looked upon as intelligent, youthful saviors with innovative ideas that should be listened to.

Today, there is a strong emphasis on youth culture, focusing on segmented buying power and how it can influence businesses. Even Elon Musk is taking input from a younger man who made his money playing poker!

Advancements in Available Technology

Once computers were on home desks and in home offices all over the world, encyclopedias were no longer the “must have” resource tool for information; we all embraced Google and other internet search engines for an instant response to our inquiries.

Well folks, hold onto your hats — the newest “go to” sources for any and all information today are Youtube and TikTok. Yup, you read correctly! Today, the culture wants visuals and actual examples to provide a more robust context and content experience in developing one’s knowledge base on any topic.

Interacting with the Next Generation

I recently set out to chat with some of the folks that are considered “next generation.” I have to admit that, for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised with the conversations. This new generation may not be learning in traditional ways, but it is certainly far more aware and knowledgeable than the generations that have come before. What was lacking in our conversations, however, was the empathy to understand the value of historical knowledge in making decisions. Most of these next generation folks had no clue about certain historical events, costs or ramifications and how this knowledge should fit into their decision-making processes. Pitfall, for sure.

Not long ago, I found myself interacting with a test pilot restrictive zoning ordinance initiative, which was being considered by the City of Los Angeles and would severely affect many homeowners. Those persons spearheading the pilot initiative from the city were a group of millennials, many with alphabet credentials who passionately pitched their reasons for proposing this pilot program. The one glaring and very important point they all avoided was the question of who would actually be paying for and/or be affected by the program, given the fact that the city or state would have no financial stake in the program.

The situation reminded me of the child who wanted their parent to buy the toy and was upset when they wouldn’t — we excuse the child, as they have not yet formed an understanding of our economic system, what is involved in earning money and whether purchasing a toy is the best use of that money. In the case of the pilot initiative, the millennials at the head of the project seemed to be missing the correlation between aspirational initiatives and actually bringing a purposeful initiative to fruition.

Next Generation Focus in Marketing & Technology

Marketers use the term “next generation” when they promote durable goods and appliances, with the intended result that consumers are clamoring for the latest and greatest models and are anxious to find out what upgrades and changes have been made to the products that they already use and love.

In reality, next generation technology is all about artificial intelligence (AI) and the ability to interact with the consumer in real time. Being able to identify customer satisfaction before a negative post is great — but isn’t it also rather important to be able to actually find out what customers prefer, and for customers to be able to communicate authentically how they use and care for their products? Such information would offer businesses the ability to reap better data — and do so in more meaningful ways — to market a product or brand, along with gleaning ideas from research and development (R&D). The most important goal of a company is to plug into the culture of the consumer and listen!

There are various tech companies out there offering cloud-based, AI, SMS and SaaS enhancements to integrate with businesses’ current CRM platforms. These companies are worth investigating — just don’t fall down the rabbit hole of research.

Roberto Ramos, founder and CEO of “The Ideatelier,” recently identified a current consumer point of voice deemed “hyperflux.” According to Women’s Wear Daily, Hyperflux is “defined by flexibility, adaptiveness and deep personalization,” a blending between soft/hard, art/science or what Ramos calls “a shapeshifting balance of extremes.” As fashion, it’s journey-wear, which has all the comforts of athleisure but all the panache of high fashion.

It takes a moment to digest that definition. Ramos said that “those who embrace the necessary cultural transformations boldly, intentionally, will lead in the post-pandemic world,” so realizing consumers’ position of looking for protection, inclusion, data-privacy, adaptiveness, emotional intelligence and personalization is key for success. Is the next generation actually prepared for that?

 As president of footwear for Informa Markets, Leslie Gallin developed the FN Platform, the footwear shows at Magic. Gallin scouts the world’s best new designers and trends, providing unparalleled business insights and access into the world of footwear and beyond. Gallin is a board member of Footwear Distributors/Representatives of America, American Apparel and Footwear Associate, Two Ten-Footwear Charity and From Fashion with Love.org, among others, and has held positions at World Shoe Association, Geoffrey Benne, Escada, Louis Feraud and Pauline Tigere. She has been featured in Footwear Plus, Footwear News, O The Oprah Magazine, Vegas, Fox’s Good Day LA, Extra TV and more.

 

Leslie Gallin

Meridian Group

missfashion@cs.com