Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Generation Next - a note

Two things have happened in the last week relevant to the discussion on generational change.

The first was the way in which baby boomers, generation x and generation y have established a clear lead in the initial list of search engine terms bringing new people to this blog. Further, those searches came from at least six countries on four contents. Clearly there is a lot of interest out there.

The second was the emergence into my consciousness for the first time of the phrase Generation Next. I had wondered what term we were going to use after the ill-chosen x and y, ill chosen because of the way x ended up as a starting point. It appears that it may be the equally ill-chosen Next. What then? Next Next?

As normal, the first thing that I did upon hearing the term was to ask my daughters (16,18). Both see themselves as generation y. Neither had heard the term Generation Next.

I then did the usual Google search, first on Australian pages then world wide.

I found very few references. The University of Queensland I noted used the term, Universities are often quick to pick up on the latest popular jargon, but applied it to what I would have called generation y. Swimming Australia also used the term, in inverted commas, to describe the up and coming swimmers. Wine Australia also used the term to describe the next generation of winemakers.

I then looked at the US, always the home of new jargon.

Here I noted that PBS has a whole section of its web site entitled Generation Next. Speak Up. Be Heard. PBS clearly believes that this is a new - 16-25 - generational group:

Thanks to factors such as technology and increased globalization, Generation Next has become a growing class of global citizens -- voracious learners, cultural sponges and unassuming ambassadors -- who have chosen to take international detours for study, work and fun.

USA Today also appears to use the term Generation Next to describe the same demographic. The BBC, too, uses the phrase Generation Next in describing the world though the eyes of the next generation. I stopped here because of time considerations.

Now there is a very clear semantic distinction in talking about Generation Next as compared to the next generation. So we are clearly dealing with something that is well on the way to acquiring a popular label. But it all leaves me quite confused.

What is the relationship between generation y and the Next Generation? Is the term Next Generation simply being used to describe generation y? Or are we dealing with some differentiation from generation y.

If the last, we are shortly going to have some very confused Australian young people, let alone marketers, journalists, HR people and popular commentators. Will the new Australian MYI magazine that eldest reads need to retitle itself Generation Next?

Is there anyone out there who can help me understand?

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