Whine Time: The Trend Gen

05/28/2017 09:43 am ET Updated Jul 20, 2017

What time is it? Whine time! I as mid-c aged citizen consumer want to challenge supply-siders’ obsession with a certain demographic and the demographic itself. Too many articles, too much talk, too much clever quipping and promoting are too one-dimensionally skewed to Millennials, at risk of disenfranchising all preceding, named generations out there, who are alive n kicking - and consuming - in droves.

The proud assumptions and subsequent broadcasting by Millennials about Millennials is, well, typically Millennial. That they don't get it I understand. They are young and defined by their consumption, having been raised on pedestals by brand-brandishing parents who strove for friendship, fun and fandom over any semblance of traditional familial (parent-centric) hierarchy. Likewise, Mills are not entirely at fault for their incessant self-lauding, for they know reality (studied and documented) only via the limitless clicks n likes of the Internet and its addictive offshoot, social media, into which they were born, fully immersed, from day 1.

Mills boast of their preferences for eco-friendly, global-hugging, PC-and warm-fuzzy-laden goods and services, which is essentially marketing genius that pulls in all age groups. While much of it is valid, most of it is thinly clad, virtue-stroking materialism (my 2014 HP piece on vicarious philanthropy addresses an aspect of this) . Do Mills have enough of an outsider perspective to even see this? Pink ribbon - and now “Millennial Pink,” a psych-laden Empowerment Blush - pervasiveness is as big money iconic as are golden arches; and exclusionistic consumption, from non-rescue pet to dietary disdain, is ripe with its own snobbery, especially when broadcast for purposes of self-elevation. Re-use and living with less (aka quality over quantity; link to my HP piece on re-use), especially if devoid of status-marking logos and labels, is the only real consumerist evolution left to any of us. Problem is, it flies in the face of the capitalism upon which most nations function, the meta-platform upon which all exist/subsist, officially or not. Politically, the Millennial wave points to a Sanderesque conundrum. While admirable that Bernie Sanders got as far as he did, the votes cast came from well-intended, flannel-clad, young elites who don’t fathom Socialism (for this would require in-depth learning/expertise, which requires discretionary effort/learning) and what, if fully implemented, it might mean for them.

I have dubbed Millennials the “Trend Generation,” or “Trend Gen.” It points to their malleability as a demographic whose identity is crafted by consumption, euphemistically called lifestyle choices. An EZ target darling of supply-siders, the Trend Gen, thanks to so-called Smart Phones, came with its own free, 24/7 advertising machine, a two-sided, double-edged coupe. The term Trend Gen has been published at Urban Dictionary. Its definition appears below.

An Ode to Mills by a Mill, published as an Op-Ed at Business of Fashion, claims that Trend Gen parents take their kids everywhere with them and that they are the first to do so, as if family outings were a new concept. It is a perfect example of Millennial self-praising wrought by innocence > ignorance = assumption. Let’s re-do the underlying math: Babysitters (I suppose titled as childcare providers) now demand minimum + wages. Verifiable odds are these childcare providers remain plugged-in and face-planted to their cell phones for the duration of the job (even if stipulated to remain off phones, how tracked?). Why would any parent pay a sitter more than a night out’s total tab, and why would any even marginally caring parent leave beloved tots with inattentive phone addicts? On those reality based counts, I concur with the notion of dragging Junior along, rather than leaving him behind. But then I notice the toddlers accompanying their parents at all-day, summer rock music festivals. And I am not talking about seeing children in wagons or traditional, spacious strollers, occupied with toys/books/activites, snacks packed just for them, sunglasses on their lil noses. The only accoutrement spotted are noise-cancelling headphones, covering their lil ears. I am not only unimpressed with the kid-tag-along claim; I as parent of three with some idea of a child’s needs am offended by these cheap cop-outs, domestic parades posing as family outings.

On the other end are the supply siders and their inexplicable obsession with the Trend Gen and their starter incomes. Aside from the fact that they provide all their own advertising, Trend Genners earn in lower income ranges than the older named gens, who simply have been at it longer, who bought in at lower rates and costs across the board. Let no one be sidetracked by stats; despite acute self-spending, less net is still less net. Trend Genners’ on-going financial dependency, from all those Family Plans trending deep in pockets everywhere to handout subsidization, is not only acceptable in their eyes but viewed as a goal. The struggle to nurture the nuclear familial concept, which previous generations contended with due to career/income mandated long-distancing, is in some part solved, not thanks to love n loyalty but to the extended parental housing Trend Genners view as a lifestyle enhancing strategy. And the fiscal-pinch reality of eventual offspring cost-bearing, which cannot be overstated, will kick in for most Trend Genners and affect them not for mere years, but decades to come. I maintain the Millennials are not the only demographic to target with such feverish tunnel vision.

I have grown tired of all the Millennial press & promo devotion in large part because I know the spending power and consumerist loyalty of the older, named generations still matters - deeply. Tech-assimilated (aka global consumers), financially actualized (olde worlde work ethic), and "young" far longer than their predecessors, their - and i am a member of this - collective, fiscal influence is substantial and still growing. And yes, we click n buy with the best of the Mills, and with our greater income levels, where and how we choose to spend should be as interesting (if not more so) to supply siders. Consumerist tech savvy does not have a set age limit, though I am first to admit the skill levels vary tremendously amongst those who assimilated tech as adults/in their post educational years. On the other hand, ineptness knows no minimum age, either.

Retirement, a fast- fading, 20th c. concept, is not only passé due to longer term income security quests in our volatile economy, but also passé thanks to the life-enriching effects of active societal engagement, documented and in practice. Baby Boomers, the bridge generation between 2 centuries and 2 epochs – Pre-Tech (our horse n buggy) and Post-Tech – witnessed the stagnation and rapid shutdown of a generation of fully retired, parental sedentarians. Thanks to evolving lifestyle choices and the Information Age, what was witnessed was documented and shared. Adults decided not only to live well longer but also learned how to tackle that goal. Post-War generations do not just accept but embrace active social engagement - and not up to a certain age, but until the end of life. Sixty-five, schmicksty-five. “We” are going to be around - and consuming - for a long time, as well.

Philanthropic, non-profit entities and institutions to industries and businesses everywhere, transfixed on the luminous and loud likes of the Trend-Genning Mills, are pushing aside the preceding named generations. I believe they do so at their own risk - and possible demise.

Trend Gen - Another name for the Millennial Generation, pointing to their malleability as a consumerist demographic obsessed with trends as status markers and elevators, not only an EZ target for all supply-side industries but, thanks to the Internet and social media in particular, a free advertising machine as well.

And to help keep this all in perspective, allow me to close with this venerable, time-tested quip:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. Socrates 469–399 B.C.
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