MTV have begun to call the Millennial generation “Generation Innovation.” They are a generation of creators, entrepreneurs and innovators, and will drastically reshape this country in terms of its cultural, commercial and civic spheres. In MTV’s 2012 study, they explore the creative ethos of “Generation Innovation”, what their creative process looks like, what systems they are beginning to reshape and hypothesize about, and what a Millennial driven world will be like in 20 years.
JK: First off, can you tell us a little bit about what MTV Insights is up to?
NS: Yes, I’d say overall we have been trying to understand the generation’s impact on different areas of culture and commerce as they really come of age.
A good example of this is Millennials in the workplace… it’s where all Millennials are headed now, so it’s the “sharp end” of where the generational impact is being felt. 10 years ago the music industry was feeling the generation rush through their system (forcing a shift from the big label album-driven model to something nimble and customizable). Now it’s the workplaces of America that are experiencing Millennialization. This is just one example but we’re looking at the latest “Millennial impact zones” and seeing what’s shifting and how.
Another very different example is retail… how’s the average retailer going to have to re-think what they do when the majority of their consumers become Millennials? This generation researches products differently, buys them differently, interacts with their peer group around the buying experience differently, and demands very different kinds of atmospheres and interactions in stores.
JK: What’s been the most interesting thing you learned about Millennials recently?
NS: We’ve been seeing an increased craving for forums where Millennials can get together and “be in groups” physically… festivals, happenings, co-working spaces, even the eventization of the midnight premier of new movies. It seems as though there is a deep-rooted human desire to connect with the herd around the waterhole that is bubbling up very strongly. We don’t know the full implications of this yet, but it seems to be on the rise and have a lot of emotional heft.
JK: At Millennial Mega Mashup you’ll be presenting your “Generation Innovation” study, what was the inspiration behind that study?
NS: We see a very creative, generative, “maker” and “fixer” spirit in the generation….everything from Etsy to App development, from food truck culture to Millennial projects to regenerate Detroit! Our sense was that this is a spirit of wanting to re-imagine how almost anything can work in a better way, and being able to hack their way to that new version. It led us to wonder…What will Millennials create next, what are they busy re-imagining in classrooms and dorm rooms and garages all over America, what will it look like when they start to bring us these solutions from the future?
JK: Do you predict that these will change in the next 6 months? Or in the next year?
NS: Yes, I think the speed of change is increasing. The speed with which Pinterest reached 10 million users, the speed with which Instagram grew and was sold for a billion… it’s all part of a general “quickening” due to total interconnectedness + speed of information flow.
If you have millions of people thinking innovatively and trying to make new, cool, interesting stuff, all stewing away in a sea on hyper-connectivity, well that seems like a recipe for major change in the near term.
JK: As Millennials begin to come of age, settle down or become parents, how will that change things?
NS: The parenting question is a very interesting one. Generational theory would say that they will consciously NOT parent the way they were parented. The question is, what will that “opposing style” look like exactly. Surely it will not be some sort of return to hierarchical, authoritarian family structures where children are seen but not heard. It will likely be Family 3.0 a re-imagining (one could say an innovation) of the idea of parenting and family.
This is complete speculation, but it would not surprise me at all if the average age at which people elected to have children becomes later in life, and there’s a conscious effort to live ones’ “first life” fully, achieve full self-actualization, before entering one’s “second life” with children. And as parents, we are already seeing Millennials carve out a bit more space for “me time” than their parents did, as they are less willing to sacrifice their entire selves and spousal relationships on the altar of parenthood.
JK: What industry are you most excited to see them innovate?
NS: It’s not industries so much as systems and institutions. I would love to see marriage innovated, and family…to my previous point. Education seems like it could use a re-think, as well as government….I’d especially love to see Millennials tackle the question of job creation.
JK: Lastly, we like to ask everyone we speak with, what inspired you to get where you are today? And what keeps you motivated?
NS: I love the currency of ideas. I love being in idea-rich environments, with people who are both generating ideas and excited by ideas. Great ideas are awesome, make your hair stand on end, stop you in your tracks and make the world not just go round but go forward. Ideas are free, endless, and can come from anyone, anywhere. Given a choice between a good idea and a chocolate milkshake, I’d take the good idea every time. I’ve always followed the smoke coming from the chimney of the factory where the most exciting ideas are being made.
Follow @MTVInsights on Twitter and Facebook for ongoing insight into the Millennial generation. To hear more from Nick Shore, join us for his keynote on the Generation Innovation study at Millennial Mega Mashup.