Luxury Lab | Generation Next: Understanding Tomorrow’s Affluent Consumer

Tavi Gevinson at Generation Next | Source: Luxury Lab

Tavi Gevinson at Generation Next | Source: Luxury Lab

NEW YORK, United States — With speakers including teenage blogging sensation, Tavi Gevinson and Teen Vogue publisher Laura McEwen, last Friday’s “Generation Next Forum,” organized by New York-based thinktank LuxuryLab, examined the unique characteristics and growing influence of a young generation of consumers that’s set to impact the luxury goods industry like no other generation since the Baby Boomers: Generation Y.

Wired and Influential

Opening the event, New York University professor and LuxuryLab founder Scott Galloway, underscored the importance of Generation Y with some simple, but astounding numbers. Born between 1977 and 1994, Gen Y currently spends $150 billion a year on consumer goods. That’s five times more than their parents did at their age. They also influence another $50 billion in purchases made by others. Indeed, according to a recent report by Harris Interactive, one in every three consumer dollars spent in the United States today is influenced by someone under the age of 18.

Laura McEwen of Teen Vogue reiterated this point in a presentation entitled “Gen Y and the Dynamics of Influence,” noting that teenage women increasingly influence fashion and beauty trends and drive purchasing decisions amongst older consumers.

Gen Y’s profound influence in the marketplace is directly linked to their familiarity with digital media, said Jane Buckingham, an expert on youth trends and founder of trend marketing and consulting company Trendera. Indeed, 96% percent of Generation Y is active on at least one social networking site.

A New Definition of Luxury

But for this wired and influential generation, luxury means something different than it did to their parents. They are uninterested in conspicuous consumption and showing off status, and more interested in social engagement and experience, said Sterling Lanier, a branding expert and president of research consultancy Chatter.

“Teachers, parents and TV shows are always telling us to be ourselves,” said Tavi Gevinson, the precocious teenager behind the now widely-known fashion blog The Style Rookie. “But what we want more than anything is to belong, to feel like we’re in a clique.” For Tavi, luxury products should be like a secret society that connects you to like-minded individuals and not a mainstream, homogenised stamp of status. Brand markings should be secret emblems that only certain people recognize, she said.

When a company offers them a unique point of view, an authentic experience and meaningful connections to a community, today’s teenagers are happy to evangelise the brand. But if not, this influential, internet-empowered generation will go out and find somebody else who does — and if that doesn’t exist yet, they’ll create it themselves.

Agata Seidel is a writer and consultant based in New York. The Business of Fashion was an official media partner of the Generation Next conference.

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2 comments

  1. well to be honest…what a load of crap that little something and something year old is talking…being a part of a ‘clique’ might be prevalent throughout the states, but guess what…they don’t determine consumer culture throughout the world (thankfully). The fact is, if anything…consumer indulgence will have to shift back the way. There simply aren’t the resources to facilitate continued economic growth and a move toward a more sustainable mode is inevitable. Regarding content consumption…the reason so many people frequent this blog is because of the quality available to read…if the essence and fabric of quality isn’t there, people will move away from it. Blogs taking over is garbage, hell 90% of this blog is pulled from reliable and professional sources…value for money and value on content is where the market is heading, which quite frankly is old traditional routes. Am I from the old-school of thought, absolutely not…I’m of ‘that’ generation. If anything, it’s highly ironic in America lecturing the world on where consumer culture is heading when they prostitute every market they enter…

    moi from Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom
  2. Tavi is speaking of emotional branding, left behind by Gen X, who are influencing media right now (the 80′s music, film, and fashion). It was those social misfits from that era that have pioneered some of the fashion forward clothes we’ve seen in the past 10 years (RIP Mcqueen). To hear “I’ve stop the world and melt with you” by Modern English as the M&M song or “I’m your Venus” by bananarama as the the Venus razor theme song comes from that generation. Modern English, Bananarama, The smiths, New Order, The Clash, etc were not bands that influenced the top 40 during the 80s’, but the misfits from that time era were listening to those bands ( you don’t hear Michael Bolton or Phil Collins on these commercials).
    Perhaps that is what Tavi is articulating herself about. I believe that she is actually influenced by 1990′s “misfit” culture. That time period was all about not being seen, loving a band because no one knew of them and them dumping them when they got too popular, and making zines under assumed name and spreading it all over town.
    I do believe that Tavi is very smart, I think she understands the saturated state of the media over exposing everything into “some brand”. There is no intimacy anymore, no personal packaging, no definition. I’m so glad that she is at least smart enough to see that at such a young age.
    Gen X still has the influence. Compare them to baby boomers when they were 40, no comparison! Gen X are not out of touch, look at President Obama.

    Jess from New York, NY, United States