This week, I wrote about Generation Y and created quite a bit of uproar in the comments section (which you will have to read in order to make sense of today’s article). Benn and I wrote the below article as a comment, but it organically snowballed into the article that you see before you. Comments are now closed at the previous post, so please let us hear your voice in the comments here.
A thesis IS a generalization
Bob, you’re right– I know it feels like we’re making broad generalizations (and we are), but hear us out. I wrote a 100 page senior thesis in college (yes, it was after the millenium) and had to defend it before a panel. The subject was African fiction and before that course, I had no insight into African fiction, language, or culture. After slaving for a year over this paper, my thesis was that despite glorified accounts of Shaka’s reign of the Zulu nation, he was actually a blood-thirsty killer, not a heroic leader who banded small nations against the large. This stance was not popular and contradicted the rosy depictions of the leader many of my classmates chose to take. I was the only student to have ever received an A in his class he had been teaching since like 1800. How did I achieve this? I thought differently, I examined all sides, and I made the generalization that Shaka was bad. Sure, he accomplished great things during his short reign as a “diplomat” but many people died gruesome deaths at his hands, so I generalized that he was not a good person. The point is that any thesis has to be based on a generalization, a broad hypothesis and yes, supported by factual evidence.
Generation Y still deserves great service
What is exciting to me about your comment is that you proved my thesis that GenY is ushering in an era of egocentrism- your client needed coddling, needed to be made to feel special, and needed you to connect the dots for him. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a valuable human being, that he isn’t actually smart/educated, or that he doesn’t deserve excellent customer service despite any baggage he brought to the table.
Hundreds of case studies prove my point
So where is my proof? I’m so glad you asked, Bob! First, as I’ve said before, I’m a member of Generation Y. That means that not only am I basing my thesis on every day of my own life as a case study (as Benn said, I’m guilty of much of what I’ve posited above), I have many many friends my age that I associate with- people I went to high school and college with. Let’s just call my group of friends hundreds of independent case studies, shall we? Observing and interacting with hundreds of people my age including myself leads me to the conclusions I’ve outlined in my article.
Median ages differ between cities
Secondly, I think that in our business, we interact with a different demographic than you do. Although San Diego is a super hip place to live, the median age is 38 which is Generation X, not Generation Y. Austin’s median age is only 30. Added to the population are the University of Texas’ undocumented (meaning their permanent residency is not typically in Travis County) residents at roughly 50,000 students, St. Edward’s University (5,000 students), Hutson-Tillotson (600 students), Condordia University (2,000 students) and Southwestern University (1,300 students), totaling nearly 59,000 people who are living here, and often use real estate professionals for their housing. Because of this influx population, it’s my opinion that the actual median age of residents in Austin that real estate professionals interact with is lower than 30 making it more likely than not that when practicing ANY business in Austin, you’ll be dealing with Generation Y clients.
In previous comments, Benn was not attacking you, rather retooling the conversation to avoid the re-arguments about how stupid realtors are or about commission rebates. This was always intended to be an article about how real estate professionals (and all marketers for that matter) compete by getting to know more about the demographic they’re interacting with and will continue to interact with in the future.
Generation Y has been studied extensively
I wish I could make a zip file of every Agent Genius article written and just *poof* have it in your brain in a matter of seconds so you could see that we’ve been studying this new Generation since the dawn of our professional careers, one of which (Benn’s) is over 15 years in public relations. A good example of our studies is an article Benn wrote last June that addresses understanding GenY so marketers don’t miss out on the opportunity to work with that demographic:
“The perception is that they have no knowledge, no money and no focus- the way maybe you were when you were 20-something. The reality is, this modernized post teen makes more money than our parents did at a much younger age, and they’re investing. They’re asking great questions about the market and they just want validation of their knowledge.”
Bob, you noted that you simply responded to your client’s need for validation (again, proving my point) as you agreed with him that other agents are stupid and acknowledged how much you two are alike- you’re already courting the GenY demographic. In order for marketers to more fully understand GenY, there have been extremely detailed studies completed about GenY media consumption and the drastic trends toward Internet use over other media instead of news outlets, and about GenY’s use of social media. At the end of the page linked above, you will find the most concise summary of how to understand GenY that I’ve ever seen.
The Internet is changing everything
Also written this week on Agent Genius was an article about NAR that addressed the use of social media, noting from Wikipedia that “social media uses the “wisdom of crowds” to connect information in a collaborative manner. Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies such as blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, group creation and voice over IP, to name a few…”
All that said, the majority of our business is now GenY creating even *more* case studies under the belt to base the thesis on.
GenY parents can’t see past their own rhetoric
Third, (and I am opining here) when you are a parent of the GenY generation (or old enough to have a GenY kiddo), it is hard to be taken out of the equation. My friends’ parents (you know, the ones who allowed viewing rated R movies at age 12, never gave curfews, gave exorbitant allowances without chores or tasks associated and never punishing slacking/drinking/backtalk) could never understand my article because they are the source of the problem I’m addressing. There, I said it. If someone spent the last 20 years telling someone “you’re special no matter what” and “don’t worry about working hard, you’ll be fine because the world owes you something because you’re from my loins and let’s watch Barney, you’re special,” it is impossible to recognize the symptoms of the disease they’ve caused.
GenY is going to HELL
But wait, is GenY going to hell, Lani? No!!! I’ve already pointed to the generous nature of GenY- literally everyone I know that is my age volunteers their time AND gives to charity without question; it’s normal. GenY, as we speak, is creating “charity” applications for Facebook and telling their friends about their Habitat for Humanity project this weekend- Kiva is a great example at the forefront of this generous GenY movement! Even Benn’s article last June noted that 3 GenY clients led to $1 million in sales in 30 days- there’s no underestimating GenY in our camp.
GenY is extremely intelligent which is why we are researchers. We know that we need to know *something* but the Internet is a blessing and a curse for reasons we’ve overdigested already (reach back to the “connect the dots” point of clients being overwhelmed). GenY is innovative- the bar is now set so high by 19 year olds that at age 26, I feel old and behind, hoping the younger of my generation will let me keep up! No matter the reason, GenY has huge dreams and is extremely ambitious.
The bottom line
Our mission here at Agent Genius is *not* to beat up on and call other Realtors stupid; many haven’t figured out yet why clients are falling off, callers are hanging up on them, breaking contracts, demanding free information, and are second guessing agents at every turn. We’re here trying to offer solutions, and why I think that Realtors could take a page from Redfin.
The takeaway is that GenY has a lot of baggage making us self-important, but watch out world- we’re here to make big changes because we’ve been empowered. In the meantime, this empowered feeling will make the jobs of people offering products and services complicated as we all finish scrambling to figure out Generation X while Generation Y is already influencing Generation Z.
Co-written, researched and opined by: Benn Rosales. If you have not read this and the previous article in their entirety, there is no need for you to comment.