My hat is off to Beloit College. Each August for the past decade, as their faculty prepares for the academic year, they release the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students. Just for fun take a look at a few items found on the list for today’s freshmen, most of them born in 1989:
1. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
2. High definition television has always been available.
3. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
4. They’re always texting 1 n other.
5. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
6. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
7. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
8. Most phone calls have never been private.
9. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
10. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
11. Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
12. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
13. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
14. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
15. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
In general, the list is a statement of the experiences and events that shape the view of the world maintained by entering students. Yes, there is always risk of making general statements; however, over the past decade I have found each new list to be both entertaining and insightful. And as a marketer it always renews my resolve to embrace the phrase “through the eyes of the customer.”
I agree that lists like these do provide perspective. It would also be insightful to provide people early in their business career with a similar list about the experiential background of babyboomers and see if they could embrace the phrase “through the eyes of these customers.”
John I. Todor, Ph.D.
Author of Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked On Your Company.