Nov 2, 2015

The Search for Simplicity

Search for Simplicity.jpg

Last month I had the distinct and distinguished opportunity to deliver the opening keynote talk at the SAIS Annual Conference in Atlanta.  Flanked with roughly 400 heads of school, top administrators, and board members, I spoke about our #edutrendingnow campaign and proceeded to outline the seven major trends that we are seeing from this research.  Reflecting now on that talk, I realize that there was an eighth trend that I wished I would have shared.  

The often misunderstood and over-researched Millennial generation is having a profound impact on the ways in which marketers and planners go about their business.  And, that is because Millennials go about their business differently than most generations before them.  That is not unusual – most generations buck the trends set before them.  So, why is this group different?  I’n not exactly sure, but my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that the Millennial generation tends not only to go in a different direction than previous generations, but they often go in completely the opposite direction.  

And, such is the case with their relentless search for simplicity.  We are noticing a profound shift in the consumer patterns of an emerging generation that wants less, not more.  They prefer depth over coverage, and are less impressed with material satisfaction and flash and more interested in relationships and connection.  They are unlike their previous young adults bent on accumulation of material goods.  Overall, they look more like a “back to the basics” approach to living, where one needs a smaller house, more efficient cars, and living an energy efficient and waste reducing lifestyle.  They are highly environmentally conscious, not because it is cool, but because it is simple.

I am going to call this eighth trend “The Search for Simplicity”.  Marketers and planners need to really understand this trend and its significant impact on their activity, from creating products and services that appeal to this consumer to how to better communicate with them.  My guess is that this trend is only the beginning of a sea change in consumer behavior.  Just ask REI and their #optoutside campaign. 

Share your thoughts below.  We will be highly interested in your take.

No Comments

  1. Jodi Sheakley-Wright on December 5, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Great article. It will be especially interesting to see how the Millenials marry their desire for simplicity with the ever-increasing complexities of technology. For example, we’ve seen how texting and email have replaced face-to-face interactions to some extent, where the intended message becomes lost or misunderstood. To me, the ultimate success will be to find a way to maintain effective communications and human connections that foster and sustain quality relationships.

Leave a Comment