Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm part of the future.. -!!yaawn!!

Young Adults Wants Their Future NOW

Yuppies. The Working Class. White Collar Professionals. Career-Builders. They come by different names. But marketers the world over are united in recognizing the immense power of the young-adult consumer segment – a group that enjoys a considerable degree of financial freedom without the social and financial responsibilities brought about by family-building. It is no wonder then that they are such a compelling target market for a wide range of products and services.

Understanding the New Breed of Young Adults. But how much do advertisers really know about today’s 20-something consumer? Do past paradigms still apply? Or do current assumptions on what makes this consumer segment tick no longer hold? These questions are especially relevant to marketers nowadays as thousands of fresh college and university graduates aspire to enter the workforce to form the “new breed” of young workers.

To answer these questions, advertising giant McCann Erickson Philippines brought to bear McCann PulseTM , the agency’s consumer insighting program designed to keep the agency and its clients at the forefront of consumer trends and values.

For this particular inquest, McCann’s resident “consumerholic” and strategic planners delved into the lives of soon-to-graduate college students from class ABCD homes, supplemented with insights from HR professionals and college professors. By focusing – not on career builders themselves – but rather on “pre-career builders,” the learnings can help the agency get their client brands ahead of the curve on consumer insights on the working young adult market.

A Heightened Sense of Consumer Consciousness. Having grown up surrounded by more things to desire– be it the latest model of cell phones, to hang out and order an occasional ‘venti in their favorite Starbucks, or to party with friends at the latest happening place – tomorrow’s young office worker has a truly heightened sense of consumer consciousness.

Nothing can stop the incoming young adult’s desire to “acquire and experience” – regardless of what socioeconomic class they’re from. They have their own unique ability to find effective ways to equip themselves with more or less the same lifestyle that their upper class counterparts enjoy by looking for better deals with their limited allowances or sometimes relying on their willing richer friends to foot the gimmick bill.

Call of the Mall, Call of the Call Center. But more than just the “call of the mall” as writer Paco Underhill refers to the heightened sense of retail-mania gripping the world, today’s incoming batch of young workers are also exposed to a new phenomenon which only helps fuel the trend towards consumerism among young people today: The Call Center.

Riding on offshore company’s push for outsourcing business processes to third-world countries like the Philippines, a call center job promises today’s graduating class of college students much higher pay and benefits than traditional white collar options.

Call centers, however, also employ undergraduates; and many have stopped their studies temporarily to enjoy the power to earn amounts never before imagined by people their age. Armed with the newest cell phones, new clothes, and more money to gimmick, these call center part-timers have become a source of envy to their friends who have chosen to remain in school.

Needless to say, such envy inevitably finds its way to strengthening the desire of the future workforce to desire for more. As one graduating respondent said of her call center friends – “Nakakainggit talaga sila. Estudyante pa lang, pero ang dami na nilang pera. Ang sarap na ng buhay nila.”

Ushering the New Age of Materialism. Their choice of role models also seems to validate this newfound desire to “acquire and experience.” Asked who in the world of popular mass media they can relate to the most, it was surprising that the names Paris Hilton and Donald Trump emerged quite consistently. Their strong appeal is grounded on their ability to “acquire and experience” life to the excess limit without anything standing in their way. In the case of Mr. Trump, the males in particular, revel at how being rich can help a man get any woman he desires – even if they have bad hair.

With these heightened aspirations, it is no wonder, then, that these students simply cannot wait to graduate, and get started on earning real money.

Frustrations of Competing in a Non-Level Playing Field. As they take steps to join the workforce, however, many are faced with a very harsh reality: that the playing field is not necessarily a level one. Many complain that while going through the process of submitting job applications, going to job interviews, or attending job fairs, priority is given to graduates from top universities like Ateneo, La Salle, and University of the Philippines. As one graduating student said of her experience in one of the job fairs: “Nakita ko talaga na hiniwalay nila ang resume ng mga taga-La Salle at Ateneo. Hindi naman yata fair.”

Those from other schools feel demoralized by this. Hindi dahil hindi kami makapag-bayad ng tuition fee na iba kami sa kanila. Dapat based on ability… hindi based on school.”

Jaded by the Old Career Model. Upcoming graduates also feel daunted by the challenges they know anyone trying to climb the corporate ladder will have to face. But unlike previous batches of graduates, there is some uncertainty as to whether having to face such challenges is worth it at all. There seems to be growing consensus that the “pains” of having to start from the bottom is not worth the starting salary most traditional white collar jobs in big companies provide.

More and more, then, the “noble” and “prestigious” professions of yore are now considered impractical options. Nowadays, it is quite commonplace to hear graduating students and first-jobbers saying things like…

“Gustuhin ko mang mag doctor, kalokohan ang mag-aral ng sampung taon. Mahirap ang pera. Matagal ang balik.”
“I never thought I’d be joining a call center when I entered college, but how can I resist the higher starting salary?”
“Why be a lawyer when you can be a teacher abroad instead?”

Immediate gratification – even when it comes to conventionally “long term” decisions like career options and decisions – has become the norm.

Short-cutting the Future. Tolerance for the pains of climbing the corporate ladder seems to have been weakened somewhat. On the other hand, jobs in call centers, working abroad as a teacher or nurse, have become much more appealing – replacing the age-old ‘yuppie paradigm’ that nurturing a worthwhile career requires long-term thinking and that sacrifices have to be made in the present to reap more rewards in the future.

Also, the attractiveness of such jobs puts into question the role of passion and true interest in deciding on what job to choose. The new belief is that while professions in call centers and nursing abroad may not necessarily be in line with their “true calling,” they are a relatively quick means for one to pay for the lifestyle that is, ultimately, the one that they want to work hard for.

A New Role of Brands. With these learnings, we can very well expect the complexion of the young adult market to change as a new breed of graduates who are much more acquisitive but less tolerant of the old career paradigm enter the workplace.

The challenge for brands targeting young adults, therefore, is on how to keep pace with these significant changes. Clearly, brands that push the envelope on promises of a better life and lifestyle will succeed. Brands that are able to promise immediate gratification and appeal to consumer’s desire for quick rewards will also do well.

While it may appear, however, that immediate gratification of material needs and quick career rewards are the new order of the day for young upstarts, these are all but new means and attitudes to attain the same classic desire for progress and the attainment of a better life – for self and family. We however have to be cognizant that for them, pragmatism has become the new idealism.

Contact :Tricia Marie C. Camarillo
Director for Business Development
Direct Line : 814-6143

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articel: sent to me through email by tel macaspac

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