Generation Y keeping companies on their toes

Today's tech-savvy 18- to 28-year-olds are setting the technology agenda, while companies are struggling to get to grips with this key audience

Companies are having trouble keeping up with Generation Y consumers who are now setting the technology agenda.

Generation Y consists of 18- to 28-year-olds who are leading the way in technology adoption with nine out of 10 owning a PC and 82 per cent a mobile phone.

Generation Y is also the most internet-savvy group, spending more time online than they do watching television, with 42 percent watching online video at least once per month.

Meanwhile 72 percent of Generation Y mobile-phone users send or receive SMS messages.

Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Generation Y is the audience companies are most struggling to understand — a key issue due to their importance for future revenue growth.

The older Generation X (aged 29 to 42) also use technology extensively but more when it "intersects with a personal need or fulfils a desire".

Golvin said the key distinction between Generation X and Y is that Generation X uses technology when it supports a "lifestyle need" whereas tech is "embedded into everything Gen Yers do" making them the first "native online population".

During the past three months, 69 percent of Generation Xers have shopped online and 65 percent used online banking — more than any other group.

And Generation X is increasingly using online and mobile technologies, with 21 percent now reading a blog once per month compared to 15 percent last year. In addition, 61 percent of mobile subscribers text compared to 49 percent in 2007.

The research is part of Forrester's 2008 North America Technographics Benchmark survey which gathered data from around 61,000 consumers in the US and Canada.