By Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, SNA President 2017-03-28 22:20:22
Bridging the Generation Gap: Mine, Yours and Theirs CREATIVE THINKING AND A COMMITMENT TO PROBLEM SOLVING are skillsets that every school nutrition director needs today to meet our many challenges and opportunities. I am always inspired to see the ideas and solutions shared by school districts and industry at meetings like SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference in Orlando in January, through our new online Virtual Expo (ending April 30), our Wednesday Webinars, the upcoming Annual National Conference in July and, of course, the pages of this magazine. While learning about and embracing a fresh idea is important, the trick comes in determining how to adapt it to your district, execute it and then evaluate its success. Essentially, you need a plan! And when your idea affects the entire school community, then your plan better include a marketing component. How will you roll out your idea and ensure that all stakeholders—from school administrators to student customers—are on board and collaborating for success? Keep in mind that such a broad spectrum of stakeholders requires a variety of generation-based marketing and communications strategies. We are all familiar with the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials—and we each belong to one of these! Today, our school cafeterias are serving the newest group: Generation Z, also known as iGen. Specific generations are defined by shared life experiences, such as world and national events, music, fashion, toys, technology, entertainment and language. These work to shape perspectives and give each generation a unique lens from which they view the world, first as children, then as young adults, then as parents and so on. Understanding the perspectives of each generation is essential not only for getting along, but for developing and promoting products and services that will resonate with the target demographic. (While some researchers assert that Generation Z is too young to form their own perspectives, those of us who interact with kids in this age group know better!) With Generation Z as our primary customers and Millennials and Gen Xers as their parents and teachers, those of us Baby Boomers who are still hanging in there face a big challenge in how we communicate and market to different stakeholders. We must keep engaging with each group—students, especially—to understand what they want and need beyond great-tasting food, presented well and delivered fast.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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