When North Highland Met The Centennials

Customer Experience

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December 4, 2017

How much do you know about Centennials? What impact will they have on your business? Unsure of what this generation has in store as they grow up and their influence becomes even more substantial than it already is?

A ‘Centennial’ is anyone born during 1995-2008. They are the largest generation in the world today. In the United States alone, they are estimated to have $44 billion in buying power.

North Highland and Sparks Grove teamed up to create a series of events, inviting attendees to ‘Meet the Centennials’ throughout 2017. After successful events in Seattle, Denver and Atlanta, it was London’s turn this September. 8 panelists, aged 12-17, answered questions on topics from technology to brands, and after a shaky start (lots of nervous faces), warmed up and gave attendees some fantastic insights.

Key takeaways from the evening:

  1. Always connected and cautious: Our panelists do not remember life before technology. They’re used to having their phones with them at all times and use them for everything: as alarm clocks, for writing essays on the tube and for socializing, just to name a few. Always being connected leads them to have both online and offline identities. They are aware that they have to be more cautious when sharing on social media because universities and future employers might look them up during application processes. Our panelists felt this was an invasion of privacy. Speaking of privacy, this group is also very savvy with their personal details and when sharing their data. 
  1. What’s Facebook? Snapchat reigns supreme. When asked about which apps they prefer, the panelists focused mainly on Snapchat. One panelist said they spent 5-8 hours a day using this app. Something for companies to think about is how they can make the most of utilizing Snapchat when attracting talent and new business. The group also uses Instagram frequently, but not nearly as frequently as Snapchat. Centennials think Facebook is for parents, and they did not mention anything about Twitter.
  1. Personalized brand experiences: When it comes to brands and shopping, personalization and listening to what Centennials want is key. Topshop was mentioned as a great example of an experience with a brand. A recent campaign gave customers a quiz to take, the results of which were used to generate personalized wardrobe suggestions. Spotify was also called out for its personalization and choice of free or paid services.
  1. An ethical generation: When asked about skills they wish they had learned at school, some responses were more unexpected than others. Our panelists said they wish they had learned to code in school along the way, but one person also said he wished he could read a real map, worried that if he ever didn’t have his phone, he would be lost.

Another surprising response came when a different panelist stated they wished they were able to do research with books instead of solely online. This panelist said they felt disadvantaged because looking things up on the internet affected memory and recall (especially during dreaded exams!).

Centennials also felt passionate about working for ethical organizations and would look out for humanitarian priorities over corporate ones. For example, one panelist said they didn’t see a point in a company investing in technology that can turn on a light with an app when they could just get up and switch it on and off themselves! Instead, they felt like those billions of dollars could be better spent trying to make a positive impact on the world.

It’s clear that money is not their sole motivator in future careers, favoring strong leadership and a good working environment. The group also expressed some of their fears about entering the workforce. One of their biggest concerns is that the increased use of AI will mean potential jobs will be eliminated.

  1. Cultural differences: This was the fourth ‘Meet the Centennials’ event hosted by North Highland and Sparks Grove this year, but this was the first British panel. UK panelists were much shyer and took longer to warm up to questions than the panelists from across the pond, which, in an increasingly globalized society was interesting to note.

Huge thanks to the Centennials that have taken part in this event series and given us so much to think about. We look forward to our next event in New York in early 2018!

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