Fast Company

Hybrid Kids

Report from the Futurist

Futurist

Eileen Campbell, 40, executive VP of the Angus Reid Group, a market- and opinion-research firm based in Toronto, where Campbell directs research for the firm's annual "popCulture Report."

Scenario

"Today's 16-to-24-year-olds can choose from a vast catalog of pop-culture images and ideas, creating hybrid social groups and hybrid forms of entertainment. But, even as this generation splinters into ever-smaller niches, three values -- hedonism, individualism, and responsibility -- will serve as a generational glue."

So What?

"The 'hybrid generation' will influence everything from how pop culture develops to how companies recruit. Typically, cultural trends have moved from one coast to the other with the help of formal marketing campaigns. But, as hybrid kids use the Internet as a medium for self-expression, cultural phenomena will erupt anywhere, anytime -- spreading across the country with or without the help of big ad budgets. We've already seen this phenomenon with the hype for the film "The Blair Witch Project" -- hype that was created and spread via the Internet."

Futurology Decoder Key

"The twin mantras of this generation are 'What's in it for me?' and 'Don't trust anyone over 30.' Marketers should follow the Silicon Valley model: 'Give it away to sell it.' For example, when Alanis Morissette allowed Internet users to hear a single from her "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" album for free, she ended up selling millions of copies. 'Antiselling' -- such as Sprite's tongue-in-cheek 'Obey Your Thirst' campaign -- will gain prominence. And products that promote 'compilationism' (create-your-own-CDs, for example) will rule the marketplace.

"Meanwhile, companies hoping to recruit hybrid kids will have to satisfy their desire for self-determination by offering them flexible work arrangements -- in other words, by allowing them to create their own jobs. Companies should also be prepared to act as de facto political lobbyists. Disenchanted with politics, these kids will look to business to push for social change."

You can reach Eileen Campbell by email (eileen.campbell@angusreid.ca).

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