The i-Generation [Gen-i] are born between 1992 and 2005, the children of late- Baby Boomers or early Gen Xers. Since Gen-i grew up with technology dependence, they see and relate to the world differently than any other generation. To engage this generation, messages require a sense of positivity and authenticity. These future leaders thrive on the powerful influence of optimism and innovation.
This knowledgeable and evolving group offer new and fresh insights to past and present products and concepts that can only lead to future excellence. Their tech-savvy customs provide an advantage to important information that identifies and analyzes market needs.
Their broad knowledge of subjects likens them to human encyclopedias, fostering desires for growth and masters of an array of specific topics. Their desire for change makes them a power source for the development of bigger and better things. They are team-oriented, but work well individually, leaving “groupthink” a thing of the past.
Gen-i are accustom to taking advantage of the resources available to them, can easily evaluate what’s important, and quickly dismissing what is not. This makes Gen-i ideal research participants.
When preparing a qualitative research project including Gen-i, please keep these best practices in mind. This will keep respondents engaged, encouraged, and on task.
- Be cautious with assumptions – Screen for all required hardware equipment ownership and knowledge. A majority of lower socioeconomic Gen-Iers are tech-savvy while some stricter middle- and upper-middle class parents may not include text messaging on mobile plans.
- Go unplugged – During sessions, require that mobile devices be set to silent and on the table or floor in the moderator’s sight. If they are not being used in group participation, have a table for storage available away from the participants. It is unrealistic to believe Gen-I will not access their phones within an hour’s time if left to their own devices.
- Plan for boredom and dissing – Prepare alternate methods to ascertain the same data and be prepared to move on and return to that topic’s data dive. Similar to Gen Y, Gen-I can immediately dismiss concepts or content they feel are not relevant, are offensive or unappealing and can get agitated when their strong feelings are not respected. They may not have the same tolerance level as other audiences with redundant questioning. Feel free to push a little but read your audience.
- Limit laptops – Unless Web evaluation is your objective, limit laptops to two and create groups for exploratory exercises, Internet competitions, electronic sorts or composing. Going online on their own will distract them from the task at hand.
- Try a living-room setting – Dependent on the demographic and project objectives, living-room research settings work well with Gen-I, provided there is limited stimulus. If concepts are numerous or cumbersome in size, defer to a traditional conference-room setting.
- Give them homework – Like all respondents, written homework assignments work extremely well with Gen-I in anchoring feelings in preparation for discussions. Keep homework brief and enhance engagement by requesting a few images or videos, either self-expressed or selected references. Provide simple instructions and realistic expectations.
- Prepare for individuality – Although anchoring feelings is an important element, groupthink is typically not a concern with Gen-I. Even though social validation drives them, Gen-I (especially females) can offer feelings without pause and extend ideas with an opportunistic attitude if the groundwork is established. A spirit of competition can turn up the volume for creativity (especially among males), where winning typically trumps the desire for social validation.
Fundamental qualitative rules still apply, but communicating with this exceptional group of individuals requires spontaneity, optimism, and creativity. Face-to-face research, even among the tech-immersed i-Generation, is a powerful tool and critical to uncovering insights that drive behavior and inform effective decisions.
Go to Tips for conducting qualitative research with post-Millennials, Barbara Gassaway to discover research exercises to best engage these participants.