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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MorningNewsBeat Radio, brought to you by Webstop, your first stop for retail website design services.

I’m a big one for talking about the next generation of consumers, and I was intrigued by the dialog that took place on the site recently when Michael Sansolo talked about the differences between what is known by the younger and older generation. I never think of myself as being older, but I think I’m old enough to have a pretty good idea of what I know, and more importantly, what I don’t know. That’s a pretty good thing to keep in mind when we talk about generational differences. Every generation knows things that both previous and later generations don’t know. And while people who fought World War II are justifiably known as the “greatest generation,” it is important to remember that future generations have the ability to be equally great, or even more so. Greatness can be thrust upon you, and it also must be earned. And we simply don’t know the future, so we should view the next generation of consumers and employees with both humility and great expectations.

I’ve been thinking about generational issues this week because I’ve been looking at a survey done by Jupiter Research saying that 38 percent of US teenagers who go online – almost four out of ten – identify themselves as being concerned about the environment. And girls – who are going to grow into women, and likely will be the people identified by retailers as their primary customers – represent 57 percent of so-called “green web surfers.”

These are critical numbers to keep in mind for businesses thinking about how they should approach environmental and climate change issues. There should be no doubt, no hesitation – because this reservoir of concern about green issues is only going to grow deeper and stronger.

I have a feeling that this younger generation of consumers has the potential of being a lot more aspirational and even idealistic than their forebears. I’ve been listening to a new CD on my iPod that has sort of sparked this way of thinking. It is called “Instant Karma,” and it is made up of old John Lennon songs sung by modern artists (and telling you this is going to ruin my reputation for being someone who only likes artists and groups that are either older than me or dead). When you listen to this album, you can hear Lennon’s pain and outrage, still vibrating and vital decades after his murder; the profits from the album are going to Amnesty International and are being used to mobilize support for political and cultural change in Darfur, Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people have died, and millions of people’s lives are at risk because of starvation, disease and murderous attacks. This album isn’t aimed at my generation – it is targeted at younger people, and I see how my 18-year-old responds to the music and the lyrics. He, and others, seem to take seriously the words that Lennon wrote:

“Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead…”

And that’s true no matter what your generation.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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