Ken’s View: Generation Z, Curated Experiences, and Lightbulbs

Hey, millenials, don’t look now, but Generation Z is creeping up behind you, threatening to steal your influence and cachet. Sure, hoteliers and others in the hospitality and design industry say they’re still interested in millenials, but it’s not going to last forever. You’re going to get old and irrelevant just like the generations before you, so stop feeling smug.

I confess I find this obsession with generations puzzling. It used to be there were old people—parents and grandparents—who just didn’t get it. And then there were young people, who listened to music that was just noise, lacked manners, and were going to hell in a handbasket. Simple. For the most part, no one catered to these young people. If they got too unruly, they were just sent to reform school with the rest of the juvenile delinquents.

(Wow, there are some pretty dated terms in those last two sentences. Even I’m not sure what a handbasket is, and my spellchecker isn’t sure either. However, I’m sure you all know how Google works.)

But to continue, something happened, and it was called marketing. It was discovered that there was money to be made from that noise the kids called music, for example, and things just kind of escalated. There was no turning back. Nothing has ever been the same.

It must be a difficult task to determine what a younger generation wants—since its usually an older generation making that determination. It is said that technology has created a generation that expects more and craves unique experiences more than prior generations. I’m not sure how technology has created those expectations, although I can appreciate how staring at banal content on a tiny screen might lead one to crave something more “authentic,” whatever that means.

The day will come, some marketing geniuses predict, when passive experiences are no longer enough. Already some folks are saying that “curated experiences are the future of marketing” (Forbes). On its website, one Arizona hotel boldly offers exactly that—curated experiences. As far as I can tell, it sounds like organized tours to local attractions. Seriously, what’s so special about that? It’s just a new name for something that’s been around for a long while. Anyway, can people no longer create their own experiences? Must they have a packaged tour? Maybe so.

Anyway, hoteliers, good luck with those millenials and Generation Zs. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

In other news, Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at the Univ. of California Davis went to Thailand and, like Indiana Jones, visited a temple where he made an amazing discovery—incandescent and candle light! Apparently lost for centuries, or so it seems, these light sources really make stuff look good, the intrepid explorer discovered.

“Reds, golds, and earthtones were illuminated by candle flame and warm incandescent lights, saturating colors to perfection,” Siminovitch said. It was the most color-intense indoor space he’s ever seen, he commented.

Unfortunately, like many things found in ancient temples, there is a curse attached to this type of lighting. Incandescent lighting is criticized for not being energy efficient, and modern candles not made from natural materials tend to give off soot and toxic fumes.

But Siminovitch was not to be deterred. He resolved to restore high color quality to energy-efficient lighting. Fortunately for him, he had the CLTC help in his quest. The lighting center formulated the California Quality Specification that was adopted by the California Energy Commission in 2015. Effective early this year, new homes in California must have lighting that meets the standard, according to a UC Davis news release.

I suppose it will take some time for LEDs that meet the California Quality Specification to reach where I live, far from the coast. Perhaps there’s one of those curated “experience” tours that offers a guided tour of a California light-bulb store that sells the devices. Or I could just order them from Amazon. Curate that. — Kenneth W. Betz, Senior Editor

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