If you are a Times reader, you probably saw the Xennials article in Saturday’s paper. It focused on a newly defined micro-generation that bridges Generation X to Millennials: the Xennials.
I was asked to comment on Xennials for the article and was quoted, however I thought I’d briefly share my thoughts on generational theory and Xennials here, so you can join the debate without worrying about the Times paywall.
Xennials, just another buzzword?
A catchy portmanteau, like Brangelina or brunch, Xennials describes a group of people who were analogue in their teens and became digital in their twenties (born 1977 to 1983). A group who enthusiastically embraced My Space, MSN and mobile phones in their 20s while still remembering what it was like to organise their first date as a teenager using the landline.
Personally I’m not a huge fan of generational labels (can two people born 15 years apart really be more similar than different?) however I do acknowledge that they are helpful caricatures that repackage the familiar coming-of-age story for a new audience.
The ABC of XYZ
At YouthSight we talk about the nature of youth and the culture of youth.
As we all know, the nature of youth is relatively static - we all go through adolescence, crave independence and want to define our personal identity; but what defines the culture of youth is more contested.
Many say that youth culture is defined by the political or economic climate, however Dan Woodman has struck on an interesting point, that technological disruption shifts our everyday experiences and as such, he has exposed a crack in the 15 year generational cycle to identify a group whose experience of youth was different to their older siblings and those born slightly later – the Xennials.
I guess the question is, will defining Xennials as a group impact my day-to-day work advising brands about the youth market – probably not. But will I use the phrase when discussing generational theory – yes I will because it suggests the culture of youth is more important than its nature, which is a challenging and exciting position.