Monday, July 23, 2018

A Watershed Event As The Next School Year Begins

Next week, a “watershed” event is taking place and the news media is not covering the story.

The first wave of Generation Z or the Zoomers will be starting college classes as the Fall 2018 Semesters begin. 

Generation Z officially started with those born in 2000 and ended with those born in 2014.  These are the kids born primarily to Generation X parents.

Generation X parents made history, but very little news media paid much attention to them.  Shoot, there are only 52 million of them vs. 76 million Baby Boomers and 78 million Millennials.  For many residing on Madison Avenue and Wall Street, Generation X and Generation Z are way too small to invest money and time.

Some quick background…

The leading edge of Generation X is turning 53 this year and the trailing edge is turning 41. 

Generation X was produced primarily by the Mature Generation that preceded the more famous Baby Boomers.  

The Mature Generation struggled through some very odd times.  The majority of the Mature Generation came into the world during the Great Depression when one worked hard just to survive.  

While some of the Mature Generation fought WWII, it’s a generation known for its survival instincts and playing hard too.  As a result, the Mature Generation posted more divorces than any other generation to-date… so nearly half its kids were raised by parents who split up!

Where Millennials are known for being raised in a world of mobile and social media, Generation X was a generation that grew up in the world of Cable television with landmark shows that captured their growing up like All in The Family and the Brady Bunch. 

When Generation X got to a stage of coupling and forming families, it was adamant that as married parents it would stay together and give the kids a home-life that was stable and sane.  For many sex was used to make kids and after they were delivered, sex no longer was a production option for engagement… nor enjoyment!

While the Millennials were raised in households of idealism and peace, love and harmony… Zoomers were nurtured in households of commitment, self initiative, entrepreneurship and realism… and even a tad of survival instinct nurtured by grandparents that are outliving all past lifespans.

At the same time that Zoomers were growing up, the academic circles shifted to embrace the Boomer and Millennial ideals related to social, environmental and political ideals. 

The cost of the four-year degree has exploded and student debt reached new heights. 

The impact of Zoomers now turning 18 will rattle the walls of academic convention with an explosion of alternative pathways of pursuit and a new configuration of ADHD – academic deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

My bet is that before the end of the year, there will be news of students resisting professors, others walking out of the classroom and others tuning out the lectures with the content of their smartphones. 

Just as the press has diverted on news that Millennials are electing not to have many kids… which is an incorrect assessment… the press will divert with stories of just how much the Internet has overtaken the desire to focus on the classroom lectures and textbooks.

Given the explosion of information, media and global exposure, Millennials see bunches of more options than simply a college degree. 

Technology and mechanical skills can be better cultivated in the context of “trade skills” and models of “apprenticeships” vs. liberal arts and pre-packaged graduate degrees. 

About 10 years ago, I took on an intern who was going directly from high school into a graphic design trade school based in Atlanta.  He was the son of a regional ad agency creative director. 

I was most struck by his commitment to “learn a skill” versus the glamour of the ad agency job scene. 

What is happening right now is the very beginning of a wave of change that will disrupt a wide field of convention. 

I could care less if its technology, housing, restaurants, retail, healthcare and/or entertainment, many product categories are at a point of market maturity and the brands at a point of revenue decline. 

Here is my bet. 

The 52 million Zoomers will impact the marketplace over the next 5-8 years more with new paradigms and models of configuration than the 78 million Millennials have accomplished to date... more than 20 years since the first wave entered college. 

The Millennials embrace the world as it exists, only they do so through their smartphones and Apps. 

The Zoomers use smartphones and Apps to create and fuel new models that are more efficient, and better-engineered to work.

This mega-trend is getting started just as this blog gets posted!

Want to discuss more... call me at 404.245.9378 or Email me at!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Comfort Is Stalling

The comfort is stalling.

When I page through the house & home magazines and watch many of the nets, life is painted as high-end 24/7 comfort and fun. 

Buying a half million-dollar house is nothing.  Shoot, the first time home buyers are eager to take on the monthly payments. 

Traveling at a whim and taking off for an experiential adventure is easy with high-tech and work-from-home.

The ads for the latest and greatest $40K+ cars fill the airways. They race against one another or speed off at record-breaking speed.

Spending $6+ on that small cup of organic, drip, environmentally green coffee that supports the sub-culture of some remote farming town is like nothing. 

The comfort is stalling.

I have written recently in blogs about the observations I make of corporate marketing teams.  Hiring in folk from outside their self-anointed, vertical product and service categories is totally unheard of and conveys a sense of engagement with the unwashed.

Shoot, for many, the Internet is where everyone shops.  Self-driving cars will overtake the highways in just a few years and rolling out another App is what will escalate sales. 

What?  You are asking us to step back and dig deeper? 

What?  You are asking us to roll-back under our sense of comfort and order to a degree that just might mess up our landscape?

The comfort is stalling.

Every day I wake up and read the Wall Street Journal.  Everyday once I get past the headline coming out of Washington or Wall Street… there’s interesting headlines I see.

And as I scan down to the bottom of the first page.  Turn over to pages 2, 3, 4 and 10.  Read the latest news coming out of New York.  Move over to the editorial section.  Go on to the next section, “Section B.”

“Starbucks sales have flattened out and the coffee houses have reached market maturity”.

“Netflix missed its forecast… shares fell”

“Nissan sales miss the mark” … and so have Ford, Fiat/Chrysler, BMW and Audi.

“Apple iPhone sales have leveled out.”

“McDonald’s is trimming back its corporate staff due to stalling sales.”

“Smucker is pressed to raise prices.”

“Lowes sales continue to slip even with its new CEO from JC Penney”

And the marketing firms, are they too experiencing challenge?

Another headline… “At WPP (global holding company of ad agencies), chairman advocates an overhaul.”

The comfort is stalling.

Technology has produced a sense of false security and a sense of “what I say is what will be answered, accomplished and resolved.” 

I can hear readers now… “Isn’t that right, Alexa?”

No need for me to encounter challenge… my car self-brakes, Alexa finds the answers and my iPhone Apps are there to do as I instruct.

Business… in its truest of sense… is not comfortable. 

There are highs… but there are also rude awakenings. 

Categories have matured and the calling is for departure from the masses and the norm. 

If you are seeking a comfort consultant that marches to the beat of the masses… and, by the way, digital firms right now serve as the band leaders … continue on until that bank account runs out.

The comfort is stalling.

If you are seeking to disrupt, re-start, re-focus and re-ignite… call us.


404.245.9378.  Ask for Mark.