The Next Generation and Mobility: Five Reasons for the Transportation Industry to Get Ready Now
By Andrea Conant
Are we tired of the Millennial talk yet? When pondering the generation born between 1981–1995, I’m here to tell you we shouldn’t get tired but inspired. Because, well…it’s inevitable. Plus, keep in mind there’s another generation on the horizon. Though they may seem like a supercharged prototype of their predecessor, they possess some stark differences and they are called Gen Z.
If you are focused on transportation and the future of it, here’s why you should pay close attention to the next generation of commuters:
1. They’re already here and outnumber you.
It’s true, we’ve reached “Peak Millennial”. (!)“In 2015, those Millennials born in 1990 — the largest cohort born in any one year — turned 25.” This is creating the biggest wave of changing expectations for cities that we have seen since the Baby Boomers. But experts warn we can’t get complacent; “from now on, there will be fewer young people moving into cities, because there will simply be fewer of them period”. We should be asking ourselves today, what does that mean for demands on our transportation infrastructure tomorrow?
2. They’re digital natives.
Gen Z is the first in history that has never known life without digital communications. So naturally, they are comfortable in the driver’s seat when it comes to digital. No force feeding rigid messaging with this bunch or they will tune you out! This group likes to customize their online experiences and make them their own, so be willing to relinquish some control to reap the rewards of a truly engaged stakeholder.
3. They interact with brands and government differently.
Gen Z is more open with their online identity than Millennials, they value authenticity and “seem to really care about engaging with brands that have values that align with their own,” in other words, “You can’t just make stuff: You have to stand for something.”
4. They have different attitudes about the economy, quality of life and government spending.
Known as children of the Great Recession, Gen Z tends to be more “financially cautious” and wants to know what value they are getting for their investment.
5. They’re the best allies you never had.
Millennials lean heavily toward an affection for volunteerism and a sense of duty for community service. While they still have not yet fully realized their potential as a voting bloc, they do show an interest in being supportive in other ways for the right cause. They are more trusting of government and more supportive of government spending than Baby Boomers.
Keeping these lessons in mind and investing in a focus on engaging the untapped but power-packed potential of the next generation is something you can and should do today. Consider this when faced with an apathetic constituency. A collaborative, empowering and values-driven approach may just be the difference between a transportation project derailed and a smooth ride to project approvals into the future. Good luck!
Andrea Conant is a Vice President at Consensus, born right on the cusp between Millennials and Generation X, she makes for a great interpreter between the two to help translate your #NextGenMobility public outreach needs. Stay in touch and join our list at www.consensusinc.com. Be sure to also say hello at this year’s Mobility 21 Summit!
Consensus is a certified Small Business Enterprise with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, State of California and Los Angeles County specializing in public outreach and strategic communications.