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Dealing with the 'Post-80s' generation

By Sean Lin (HK Edition)
Updated: 2010-02-25 07:21
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The term "Post 80s" has received much free publicity, notoriety and marketing recently, mostly due to the extreme actions taken by a group of protestors against the proposal to build the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

While the proposal has already won legislative budgetary approval, we can still take a closer look at the story and ask, "What is this Post-80s phenomenon and what are the opportunities out there for me?"

The term "Post 80s" is nothing new. Literally, it refers to the population born after 1980. In the West, they are usually referred to as Generation Y (people born between 1978 and 1990). You can easily find a few bestsellers that talk about who they are, what shapes their minds, what motivates them and how you can interact with them. One of them is Bruce Tulgan's (best-selling author of Managing Generation X) Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, which talks about how to empower the Generation Y to become great leaders and managers of our and their times.

While the media popularly labelled the protesting youths as "Post 80's", the group did not like the label. Neither do the rest of the Generation Y who did not come out to protest. On Facebook you can easily find the polarized post-80 groups. There were post-80 groups against the rail project, and there were groups supporting it. If any business is targeting this huge potential group of high spending power customers, the last thing to do is to wrongly generalize about this generation. Who are they, really?

Dealing with the 'Post-80s' generation

They were brought up in a society in which freedom of speech is the default option, a given, and in a world in which the Internet has been taken for granted and text messaging is, for some, more common than speaking. Going out without a mobile phone in hand is out of question. Landing in a job that prohibits MSN or Facebooking during office hours can motivate one to write a resignation letter.

They are creative, and they need work to be fun. They want their voices heard, on and from day one.

They like to be given autonomy, but at the same time not to feel lonely. They want their leaders to provide guidance, and equally important, to share their triumphs.

They are either brought up with no, or at most one, sibling. Do you imagine that they do not know how to communicate? Or that they lack respect?

On the contrary! They are closer to their parents than any other previous generations. But in their lives, they respect and want respect too. They have been given a wealth of choices by their parents ever since early childhood. They expect the same when they grow up, from their bosses, managers, politicians and government officials.

Now, whatever business you are in, you just cannot ignore this up-and-coming generation, whether you are selling them a product, service, a job assignment, or an ideology.

What will be your strategy?

Sean Lin MBA, MSc, CISA, CISM, CISSP, SHKIM is the

Director of Corporate Communications Committee, Hong Kong Institute of Marketing. He is also the Division Governor, Hong Kong of Toastmasters International and the Director of Information Systems Audit and Control Association (China Hong Kong Chapter).

(HK Edition 02/25/2010 page4)