Emerging Culture

Posted 06.10.16 in News

A new Insight from Space Group CEO Rob Charlton

Stop for a minute - take a moment to look and see how the culture all around us is changing.

Everything we once thought normal has been challenged.

I am quite romantic when it comes to previous generations and memories of the past. Anyone who has been to Spaceworks will have seen our Raleigh Burner, Raleigh Grifter and our Sinclair C5 taking pride of place. We also have on display a collection of computers and games consoles from the 1970s and 1980s. There are generally two reactions to these "exhibits". Those of the same generation as me will smile and remember their youth, usually with an accompanying story, while the Millennials are intrigued by a computer the size of a small house with a memory of 48kb, or a bike which takes a crane to shift.

Those of us in our 40s and 50s find it difficult to adapt to the changing world around us. Everything we know is being disrupted. Businesses, who you might have thought would not be affected by the Internet, now find themselves being challenged. For example, my most recent favourite is the gym sector.

I recently joined Pure Gym. I simply walked into a lobby, signed up with my credit card and was issued a code which let me into the gym. I was now a member! I hadn't seen or spoken to anyone from the gym - I still haven’t. You may say “so what?” and “Isn’t it nice to be greeted by someone?” Of course it is, it’s great to be welcomed however the membership costs only £17 opposed to the £50+ that I would have to pay to be greeted by a receptionist.

I also have realised that Millennials now buy everything from the Internet. Whenever I ask someone under the age of thirty where they bought X from – the answer is always the same. I’m expecting the name of a shop, but it’s usually Amazon.

The other thing I've noticed with young people's habits is their lack of interest in brand these days. In my day the most important thing with any clothing was the logo. Today our Millennials are more than happy to buy from Primark as this gives them more money to spend on their social life. Their priority is time, not possessions.

You have to then think of the impact all of this has on the high street and everything else that we do in business. You have to admire retailers who are able to remain profitable in such a culture. A recent comment from the John Lewis chairman was rather telling. In his recent statement alongside their latest results, he said: " There are far-reaching changes taking place in society, in retail and in the workplace that have much greater implications.”

In the workplace, there has also been a significant change. We find those under thirty are very health-conscious. The latest thing is to "eat clean" which basically means cutting out all processed food. Their environment has to be different and following considerable demands from the team at Space Group, we have even started work on our own gym at Spaceworks.

The first thing that all businesses need to do is to understand Millennials and how they are affecting your business. You have to build a culture to respond to their needs. Trying to force them into past cultures will not work and will undoubtedly affect recruitment and retention. It is unlikely that we will be able to convince them to swap their Samsung Galaxy for a BBC computer. Neither will they ever give up their super lightweight racer for a Raleigh Grifter.

The challenges of business and society are huge. The gap between generations is as wide as it has ever been. I believe any business who hasn't addressed these changes and developed a digital vision and strategy has a worrying prognosis.