US Insights

Independence Day for Centennials

Rob Callender

Associate Head of Polycultural & Inclusivity Insights

Brands 05.05.2016 / 16:00

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The Futures Company finds today’s teens are getting out there more purposefully and carefully than previous generations

Independence has always been a natural part of the teen lifestage. Part of growing up is pushing the envelope. Sometimes teens successfully expand their boundaries; sometimes they get pulled back toward safety. Sometimes they even fall out of the nest. For better or for worse, growth and change are always learning experiences.

But for the 19-and-under cohort that comprises Centennials, this quest for independence looks a bit different than it has for generations past. Today’s teens are embracing independence at an earlier age and with a more self-directed approach. As teens strive for greater independence, they’re doing so with greater purpose and care than prior cohorts did as teens.

This impulse toward independence manifests in three interconnected ways.

Responsibility: Many believe that the teen years are a time of growing freedom and limited responsibility—a heady mix that Millennial teens seemed to greatly value. Centennials, however, don’t seem interested in pushing off responsibility. 

only 4%

Resilience: Born in an era of adversity, Centennials increasingly understand that success isn’t a given. Today’s young people are taught from an early age that they have to “stretch” for success, and that sometimes they’ll fall short. When the inevitable stumble occurs, Centennials know they need to recover and rally.


Expertise: Because being forewarned is to be forearmed, Centennials are involving themselves in the big topics of the day. Prior cohorts enjoyed a sort of “youth privilege,” blithely assuming they didn’t need to worry about the dull, boring adult issues of the day and focusing their time and energy on more youth-oriented pursuits. Today, young people are finding status in understanding problems and empowering themselves to work toward solutions they believe will contribute to the greater good. 


These empowered stances may be unusual for the teen lifestage, but they’re not forming in a vacuum. We know from our longtime qualitative and quantitatve research that minority consumers have long valued responsibility for choosing their own path and overcoming the challenges they encounter; it’s certainly no surprise that the most diverse youth cohort in history should embrace self-direction, as well.

Source: Kantar Futures

Editor's Notes

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