Have you heard the latest viral prank making its way onto moms’ cellphones everywhere? I certainly have because my daughter fooled me once with it just this week. Here’s the deal: text your mom and ask her how long you need to microwave a turkey because you’re going to a “Friendsgiving” and have been assigned the turkey, then sit back and wait for her head to explode. Yes, super funny and super clever, right? I laughed and laughed hard when she came clean…long after I sent her roasting instructions by pound and then got my wits about me and told her just to buy a cooked one. Fool me twice she did not.
But, when the shoe is on the other foot, Millennials aren’t laughing so hard, specifically when it comes to the newest addition of Monopoly. The classic board game’s maker Hasbro has introduced “Monopoly for Millennials” but apparently its target audience isn’t all too fond of the new hybrid.
For starters, seems the game’s cover offends them. On it, Monopoly icon Rich Uncle Pennybags wears sunglasses, holds a cup of coffee (perhaps a skinny non-dairy latte?), boasts earbuds, and wears a “participation” medal. Adding insult to injury is the tagline “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.”
Okay, I get it, but have a little sense of humor snowflakes and laugh at yourselves for once.
It’s not just the cover that’s changed. Game pieces are no longer a thimble or iron (Sew? Iron? Sew 1970s!), but instead hipster hashtags, crying emojis, and the likes. But the tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek humor doesn’t stop there. The Chance and Community Chest cards are described as “super relatable” and instead of buying up properties and collecting money, players collect “experiences” that include “Parents’ Basement,” “Thrift Shop,” “Farmers’ Market,” “Friend’s Couch,” “Vegan Bistro,” and “Meditation Retreat.” Am I the only one getting a chuckle out of all of this?
Some aren’t laughing at all though. Twitter and other social media sites are awash in posts saying the game insults the very demographic it’s trying to entertain and is an unfair portrayal of them. On the flipside, others say the fact that Millennials are upset with the game solidifies the very reason for it and one Twitter user pointed out that new game has fewer spaces than the traditional version maybe because “Millennials are too lazy for a full game of Monopoly.”
Okay, that’s a bit much as I know many a Millennial and they might play hard but they also work hard. Hasbro agrees and in a statement calls the new version “a lighthearted game that allows Millennials to take a break from real life and laugh at the experiences and labels that can sometimes be placed on them.” Sound advice, right? Yes, but we are all too familiar with generation “my feelings are hurt.” The fact that Monopoly for Millennials losers don’t get a participation trophy is encouraging though.
So who makes up these young adults and often-mocked generation? When it comes to U.S. Census numbers, things are still developing so The Pew Research Center has come up with a new set of guidelines and nicknames and here’s a quick look at them based on birth year:
Baby Boomers – 1946-1964
Generation X (“Gen X”) – 1965-1980
Millennials – 1981-1996
Post-Millennials – 1997-Present
Some take it a bit further, calling Post-Millennials “Generation Z.” Not sure what comes after them, but let’s look at what we have.
Pew Research considers the Millennial cutoff date of 1996 important because it makes them a generation…the last generation…old enough to have experienced and comprehend 9/11. Personally, one thing that struck me this past September 11 was the fact that most of today’s high school seniors weren’t even born on that historic day in 2001. This is so weird to me. A day that changed my life will only be learned about (and how honestly?) in textbooks from here on out. Considered somewhat slacker-like, Millennials are not entirely to blame for their career setbacks and slowdowns. In their defense, those born between 1981 and 1996 were greatly affected employment-wise by the country’s economic downturn and Pew’s Michael Dimock says their slow start careers “will be a factor in American society for decades.”
Technology also plays a pivotal role in delineating between generations. Baby Boomers saw TV explode before their very eyes in living rooms across America, Gen X experienced firsthand the computer revolution, and Millennials brought with them cell phones and the internet. They, and everyone after, have virtually lived their entire lives on the internet, whether Googling information, tagging friends, or applying photo filters. Real data has always been at their fingertips but real life has not.
Society as a whole has also changed dramatically between generations, and those of the “old school” mind feel Millennials and anyone after them are the “participation trophy” generations and that we’re witnessing the results of that right now. Protest after protest fill our streets and it’s no surprise that many of them are those who didn’t “win” or get their way. Then again, maybe they were never allowed to lose and even when they did were told they were still “winners.” “You finished 7th in the race Johnny, here’s a medal.” Accepting and handling disappointments might be challenging for them, especially if they were never taught proper coping skills. These generations are also often considered “entitled” by those who suffered through food rationing, the gas crisis, phones attached to the wall, and travelling with real maps. To make matters worse and life harder to navigate, these young adults have matured during a time when government and pop culture became virtually the same thing. Actors tell them how to vote and reality stars are voted into office. No wonder they’re crying!
When it comes to Generation Z however, they differ greatly from their Millennial cousins in many ways according to studies by both Vision Critical and Quartz at Work. They all FaceTime, Snapchat, and Instagram til the cows come home, and receiving a message from them that doesn’t include an emoji is almost unheard of, but the social media networks they prefer and the devices they consume them on aren’t always the same.
Gen Z’s most used device is the smartphone (they receive 3000 text message a month!), followed by TVs and laptops, while Millennials most lean on their computers, then smartphones and TVs. In addition, Gen Z, sometimes called the “iGeneration,” claims to prefer cool products over cool experiences and although they are merely teenagers, they are often teens with cash but heads up: they don’t like details or advertising. Marketers to Gen Z better get on board the non-traditional ad train and embrace Instagram, YouTube, and short videos like those on Vine. If your target audience is Gen Z, mobile marketing should be your primary platform complete with mobile-friendly ad campaigns and websites. And make them short but edgy and creative. Gen Z has an attention span of 8 seconds and 70 percent watch two hours of YouTube a day.
Jobwise, 75 percent of Gen Z kids hope to convert hobbies into full-time jobs, 61 percent would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee, and 60 percent want to “change the world.” Pie-in-the-sky to many, but kids gotta dream, right?
They also value opportunity for advancement but aren’t necessarily interested in moving quickly up the corporate ladder and their top “must haves” when it comes to first jobs are health insurance, a competitive salary, and a boss they respect. Regarding long-term careers, they value a stable career path and a work-life balance. Amen Gen Z! Again though, they are uniquely focused on “dream jobs” however, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great to have goals but it’s also great to work hard where you are and accept your current position. Not surprising is the fact that “working for an organization that aligns with their social compass” is perhaps the most important thing they consider when deciding whether to accept Job A or Job B.
So what does all this mean? It means Baby Boomers are leaving the work force more and more on a daily basis and that those replacing them may indeed be sensitive and a bit entitled, but they are also extremely tech-savvy and they know what they want. And, they can fix our computers and show us how to make Instagram stories.
What they don’t know how to do is roast a turkey. But that’s for another blog and another day.