How ‘on-demand’ expectations are defining Gen Y
One of the accusations most frequently levelled at Gen Y is that they are impatient and unwilling to wait, or work, for what they want. Instead, they expect everything to be made available to them when they want it.
After all, that is surely the kind of selfish and self-righteous behaviour that leads young people to pirate $800 billion worth of copyrighted content instead of waiting for the new Game of Thrones to be broadcast locally, isn’t it?
But what most of these arguments fail to account for are the unprecedented advancements in technology and connectivity that have defined and shaped the era Gen Y came of age in. Within the last 20 years, we have gone from a society where the internet was a burgeoning curiosity to a completely ubiquitous presence that has infiltrated and changed almost every aspect of our lives.
Older generations would do well to remember that Gen Y’s frame of reference for most experiences are completely different, and as such their expectations are different, too.
Instead of dismissing the Gen Y who complains about a slow internet connection as impatient and entitled, keep in mind that for someone who has lived their life seeing an ever-increasing internet speed, a slow connection is like a step backwards. For a generation primed to expect and adapt to rapid leaps forward, it can be frustrating to feel like others won’t keep up.
And while many lament that over-indulgent parents and their excessive praise has resulted in a generation falsely convinced of its own worth, this fails to recognise the role that technology has played in connecting and empowering Gen Y.
Where once young people who had big ideas they wanted to pursue were more than likely told to come back when they had reached an ‘appropriate’ age, experience level or financial situation, they are now using technology to validate their ideas among their peers and bring them to life sooner rather than later. Gen Y sees the possibilities that technology offers, and they are working hard to harness it and create the opportunities and experiences they want, instead of waiting for them to appear.
They also reward businesses who deliver their goods and services in line with these expectations, and will leverage their extensive online abilities to spread the word. No longer can companies or brands try to withhold from Gen Y or dictate the terms of play and expect to retain loyalty. If Gen Y wants a product and you aren’t willing to provide it to them, their nimble fingers will have another five options loaded up on Google ready to take their money before you can blink. And the collective power of this generation should not be underestimated.
When it became apparent that young people were no longer willing to accept delayed and limited releases of popular entertainment programs, like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, and would repeatedly illegally download the episodes en masse (Australians accounted for 16% of global illegal downloads of Breaking Bad and led the world for illegal downloads of the highly anticipated sixth season of Game of Thrones), entertainment providers eventually committed to airing new episodes of popular content within hours of the international premier to try and dissuade users from downloading content illegally.
We’re now seeing this mentality – if you cannot give us what we want, then we will build our own version and do it our way – extend to all areas of Gen Y’s lives. Their enthusiastic embrace of alternatives to traditional businesses and rejection of those they believe to be outmoded – Uber instead of taxis, AirBnB instead of hotels, entrepreneur instead of employee – shows that when businesses commit to providing frictionless experiences and services on-demand, then reap the benefits.