Now is the time to tap into the Generation G zeitgeist

Trend watching has always seemed fun. Back in the '90s, I worked for a while on the EMEA communication strategies for a sneaker company based in the US.

Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at MediaCom
Sue Unerman, chief strategy officer at MediaCom

I used to envy the person employed as Chief Trend Watcher for them, as the job largely consisted of going to the coolest cities in the world, finding the coolest places to hang out and watching people's feet. (Well two out of three's not bad).

Those were the days of Generation X described in Douglas Coupland's iconic novel, cynical and disrespectful of tradition values, shortly to be followed by Generation Y - less cynical with a better work/life balance.

No "letter" generations have reached my attention since then, but now trendwatching.com's February briefing has come up with a new initial - Generation G - and it sounds like a generation whose moment may well have arrived.

G stands for Generosity in this context and captures the zeitgeist that individuals are very fed up with the greed that seems to have tipped the economy into a downturn. Much of this can be traced to the anxiety that the media is reporting every day. Times are very difficult and the days seem dark. Trendwatching.com's analysis says: "Challenging times see people craving caring institutions that demonstrate empathy, sympathy and generosity."

But it's not just a more benevolent world that people crave. The other way in which generosity manifests itself is in sharing content. Ten years ago when the internet first carried content, it would be marked with a copyright symbol and an instruction not to redistribute it.

Now most content is created with the intention that you should send it to your friends and colleagues.

The drive to get your website higher in the natural search listings on Google so more people end up there means the more links you can get for it the better. And if people see a video they like, they upload it to YouTube - an amazing 13 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

Applications such as Flickr and Twitter mean you can share every image you take and every experience you have.

This behaviour and way of thinking creates opportunities for brands.

So make generosity a consideration in thinking of ways to attract audiences or customers. That may be in the form of generosity to charitable causes, it could be in sharing ideas or it could be simply in creating great free value. There's never been a better time to surprise and delight your target markets.

Sue Unerman is chief strategy officer at MediaCom
sue.unerman@haymarket.com

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