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NextGen is ready to level up NextGen is ready to level up

In this fourth article in our NextGen DNA characteristic series, we focus on the last NextGen DNA aspect: ‘I am ready to level up’. In InSites Consulting’s Who’s Up NXT survey, we asked questions like “Would you like to have a career abroad, earn a lot of money, start your own business?” to 4 different generations: Z, Y, X and Baby Boomers. Through the results below, you will notice that it is clearly Gen Z that is most career- and money-making-minded while welcoming an own start-up, working abroad and being on the road. NextGen is highly ambitious.

Millennials (Gen Y) still want to combine having a good time with friends and family (the famous work/life balance – see also our Millennials at Work bookzine). But the younger Generation Z seems to be more eager to sacrifice fun for money. Working or studying abroad is considered as a crucial self-development tool, with Gen Z even more inclined to participate in school exchange projects and internships in other regions. Of course, GenZers today are only just entering the job market, so we’ll have to see how their opinion will evolve once they are really confronted with a professional life.

NextGen's career perspectives

NextGen definitely feels responsible for their own successes. In an increasingly more competitive and insecure job market, improving skills is high on the agenda of this ambitious youth generation. They acknowledge only hard work and creative skills will help them make it. Energy drink brand Red Bull certainly understands NextGen’s need for fuel and power to help them through the many obstacles of their young life. It is just one example of how brands can connect with NextGen by offering them products and services that help them level up or facilitate doing so.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetway: Understand #NextGen’s need for fuel & speed up your #marketing to help them level up insit.es/2wa0BVl by @Joeri_InSites via @CoolBrands #mrx

Born ready

American reality TV program Shark Tank, the successor of Dragon’s Den, can be considered as the Pop Idols or X-Factor for young entrepreneurs. In the show – that was broadcast for 6 successful seasons in a row and won a primetime Emmy Award – a panel of investors decides on business plans: which plan would they invest in? One of the great examples of Gen Z’s born ready attitude is Mikaila Ulmer, a 10-year-old girl that came up with the idea of making a lemonade based on her grandmother’s recipe with honey. Her purpose behind making this lemonade was to support bees. As you know, there are fewer bees in the environment and part of the profits of Mikaila’s lemonade sales would go to the Saving the bees foundation. Ulmer was one of Shark Tank’s winners: she received $60,000 to start up her own business and meanwhile managed to rake in a big million-dollar distribution deal with Wholefoods, the US food retailer.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: #GenZ was born ready! A generation of young entrepreneurs, ready to level up insit.es/2wa0BVl by @Joeri_InSites via @CoolBrands #mrx

In my book How Cool Brands Stay Hot, one of InSites Consulting’s founders, Niels Schillewaert, is interviewing Jordan Casey, a 15-year-old Irish GenZer that started his own game and app development company at the age of 12. YouTube is also the proud sponsor of young talented vloggers. 14-year-old celebrity vlogger Amber Kelley, for instance, was bullied about her healthy home-packed lunches in second grade and decided to change children’s perception of healthy food. After winning a White House challenge and TV channel Food Network’s kids star contest, Amber’s vlogs got endorsed by Jamie Oliver’s Foodtube channel. Gen Z is not afraid to fail. It’s better to fail than to be boring. They learn from mistakes and move on to the next challenge.


We often think of young people as the YOLO (you only live once) generation. They all want to experience amazing, awesome & extraordinary things. And yes, that is true. When you are young, you still have your bucket list full of want-to-experience things. NextGen surely has more ways to fulfill more crazy experiences than ever before. But YOLO does not equal YOLT, you only live once does not equal you only live today. In the heads of young people, there also is tomorrow. So having guts or being bold is not just about having balls and doing things like bungee-jumping, threesomes or other thrills in the short term. It’s more about having longer-term goals. Young people are not just concerned about short-term experiences; we know from our interviews that they do have long-term goals in life.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: Being bold for #NextGen is about having goals insit.es/2wa0BVl by @Joeri_InSites via @CoolBrands #YOLO #longterm #mrx #marketing #geny #genz


Nike supports your football career

Nike is one of the brands that understands how young people are ready to level up and want to go for the long-term dimension. Since 2009, Nike has the Nike Academy, a football academy in England where they train young football players. So they start with a competition, called Nike’s Most Wanted, in more than 30 countries in the world, where Nike is looking for young talent in every young football team. Any team can nominate any of their young players, boy or girl, that they consider their star player. In the next phase, these star players will compete with other star players, within their own country and then of course also internationally. In the end, Nike organizes a summer school for 10 pupils, every year, where these young football talents are trained by a professional coach. The pupils also receive some career coaching and also get to play matches with the stars and athletes that Nike is sponsoring. And this great idea has also brought some results. In total, the Nike Academy currently has more than 50 alumni who competed in the Most Wanted contest, followed the training at the Nike academy and today are playing professional football in First-League teams across Europe.

Other examples of brands that help NextGen to achieve small or bigger successes

H&M Poland organized free cross-fit training and boxing classes. During the classes, you earned points for every calorie burned; points which could then be redeemed in every H&M store. Converse has the Rubber Tracks studios: a global family of community-based professional recording studios. Emerging musicians of all genres can apply for free studio time. If selected, artists record at no cost while maintaining the rights to their own music. Red Bull is offering music workshops around the world and also created the Red Bull Basement in Sao Paolo and Istanbul as a way to bring young creative talents together. MINI created A/D/O (named after the initial design team of the car) in Brooklyn, a creative work space and restaurant open to all creative designers as a co-working space.

Converse Rubber Tracks Studios

Ready to level up on the work floor

Talking about co-working, this ready-to-level-up DNA characteristic of NextGen is also something that is quite useful in a broader HR perspective. The following example is about Mondelēz, but I know that companies like PepsiCo and other multinationals are also involved in this way of allowing young Millennials on the work floor to cooperate with older generations within the company and with start-ups outside of the company. Mondelēz has its Futures program. In 2012 they started up the Mobile Futures program, where they allow young people to work together with mobile start-ups to find new ways of connecting with the consumers through their mobiles. One of the business ideas that originated from Mobile Futures was Betabox, a company based on the idea of mobile loyalty cards. It has been sold by Mondelēz in the meantime.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: How @Mondelez empowers #nextgen with their Futures program insit.es/2wa0BVl by @Joeri_InSites via @CoolBrands #intrapreneurs #levelup #HR

After this success, Mondelēz started up the Shoppers Futures program. The idea is that young marketing people working for the US and Canadian divisions of multiple Mondelez brands start working together with retail clients and start-ups to find new business ideas that are related to the shopping journey, like digital displays in shops or any other idea. The program stimulates young people to work with other people from other generations, so it’s cross-generational and it also connects NextGen with the start-up entrepreneurs. The core idea is not necessarily to make money by creating and selling start-up ventures like they did with the Mobile Futures program, but it’s all about helping young people to be intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs within a large corporate such as Mondelēz. To find more ways to build a future-proof HR strategy, download our free Millennials at Work bookzine.

This series of 4 articles highlights 4 key DNA aspects of what is called NextGen – a combination of Millennials or Gen Y (currently the young adult generation of 21-36-year-olds) and their successors, Generation Z (aged 6-20 today). To get to this NextGen DNA, InSites Consulting interviewed 10,000 people from 4 different generations: Gen Z, Gen Y, Generation X (aged 37 to 52, the parents of Gen Z) and the Baby Boomers (aged 53 to 70, the parents of Millennials) in 8 different countries across Europe but also in the US and in Australia. The interviews allowed us to identify significant and relevant differences between these generations and to find out more about this next generation of consumers: Gen Y and Gen Z. Over the past months we shared the first DNA characteristics: The Snappy Generation – NextGen is dreaming of a better world – Let’s get personal with NextGen.

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