Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Demo watch: Gen Y and life coaches

Every so often, I run across a "sign of the times" article that has big-picture relevance to the work we do, simply because of our industry's pursuit of ever-younger demographics. It's worth noting that the youngest baby boomers will exit the vaunted 18-49 demo just seven years from now -- 2013. That's a whole generation of 78 million people arteriosclerosing their way to Madison Avenue irrelevance. The number of Gen Xers is quite small by comparison, hardly worth advertisers' trouble compared to the "Millennial" generation that follows. The people born from roughly 1979-1994 are just as numerous as the boomers. And what's the "next big thing" with this age cohort? Life coaching.

Life coaches are the upbeat advice-givers known for helping harried CEOs acquire work-life balance. But today, more of them are playing Dr. Phil for 20-somethings. In some ways, it's a natural tactic for a generation that grew up watching their parents pay people to solve their problems. But critics wonder whether such shortcuts undermine the value of real, sometimes bitter, experiences in building character...

Experts say today's college graduates - the front end of Generation Y - differ from their baby-boomer parents, who developed a reputation for navel-gazing. Neither do they have the same independent, sometimes cynical streak that defined their Generation X predecessors. The current crop, observers say, is coddled, accustomed to their parents hiring tutors or college-application consultants...

Human resources managers are increasingly noticing that parents are accompanying their children to job interviews, according to a COE survey. Indeed, several attendees at the Atlanta sessions were there at the behest of mom and dad.

Somehow, I have a feeling a small-market news director would laugh a job applicant out of the room if a parent tagged along. Still, the article has much food for thought about the people our newscasts will have to reach in the years to come.


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