By David Capece, Managing Partner

From green activism to anime, from Gawker to Tony Hawk video games, Generation Y is a complex generation with diverse interests.  Immersed in the digital world from an early age, Gen Y is at the forefront of mashing up how we communicate, entertain, and innovate.  Let’s start with some generalizations about Gen Y:  they seek diverse communities online and offline, are idealistic and socially conscious, and they crave authenticity. Underneath those generalizations are mindsets that drive their behaviors and choices.  In this week’s Top 5, we explore the leading mindsets of Generation Y.

1. Connectors

With the rapid rise of Facebook and Myspace, the Connector is an obvious place to start.  The Connector thrives on crowds and loves to participate in the hubbub.  To live up to their billing, they stay current on Hollywood, sports, and their friends.  The iPhone is among their favorite products.  On TV, they are watching Sports Center, the Hills, Gossip Girl, and the Office.

2. Forerunners

While the Connectors are on Facebook, the Forerunners are 2 steps ahead, checking out Twitter, Tumblr, and Ning.  These are intellectually curious individuals who enthusiastically discover the latest trends, news, music, and urban scene, while also finding time for social causes and green issues.  They aren’t shy.  In fact, they live to actively share their opinion, gaining satisfaction from being in-the-know and making a difference.  If you are reading blogs, you’re probably getting a lot of your information from these Gen Y thought leaders.

3. Escapists

While the Connectors and Forerunners engage at a frenzied pace, the Escapist dis-engages from the hectic world around.  They enjoy their escape from everyday life; immersing themselves in their own virtual reality.  They appreciate the pleasure of low key hangout on YouTube, playing video games, and catching up on the X-Files.  They like cartoons: from anime to Simpsons to Adult Swim, you’ve got the Escapist hooked.

4. Free Thinkers

The Free Thinker is central to the rise of the artisan class.  The Free Thinker is a highly imaginative individual that likes to express the diversity of their life in out-of-the-box ways. While the Escapist is on YouTube, the Free Thinker has their own designs in mind as they seek the fulfillment of discovering new, more off-beat communities.  The Free Thinker makes their home at local coffee shops, and joins the Forerunners in social and altruistic causes.  While they like Bravo, they are just as comfortable watching Austin City Limits or hanging out online at undiscovered sites such as Pitchfork.

5. Thrill-Seekers

One part adventurer, one part crazy, the Thrill-Seeker is an adrenaline junky that is constantly craving new and challenging adventures that build their badge of pride.  The Thrill-Seeker watched JackAss in high school, and now they’ve graduated to freestyle street sports, and the UFC.  They love to be outdoors and testing the limits, whether through extreme sports, racing, or new adventures.  The Thrill-Seeker has graduated from YouTube and is onto more cutting edge sites such as Break.com.

If your business focuses on Gen Y, you need to get into their heads to truly appreciate the diversity of this generation.  Gen Y likes authentic stories, so get to know them at a deeper emotional level and have a conversation that connects to their passions.

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