Young Mexican Adults
Business literature abounds with references to the subject of Millenials, but there is relatively little about young adults, as if a generational perspective is enough to understand and take advantage of the opportunities and risks they represent. Without underestimating the generational perspective, our purpose here is to shed light on the opportunities awaiting an age segment that in today’s Mexico has a particular relevance, as in many countries, subject to great cultural, technological and economic changes.
These are young adults, or—according to the name given to them by academia, who first proposed classifying them as a separate stage in life—“merging adults”: young people between the ages of 18 and 30 with particular economic and techno-cultural possibilities that allow them a breathing space of exploration and mobility before making major decisions like having children, renting or purchasing a house, and ensuring a stable job.
Just as adolescence was the great novelty without which the 20th century cannot be explained, the young adult represents a novelty that is here to stay in the 21st century: some Millenials—born between 1980 and 2000—have ceased to be emerging adults and soon we will have Generation Z representatives swelling their ranks; but regardless of the generation they belong to, we must get used to their work and, particularly, the singular type of entrepreneurship favored by their members at this stage in life.
In the two nationwide studies we have conducted on this segment at De la Riva, we have confirmed the basic premises that allow us to separate them into adolescents, on the one hand, and adults, on the other: freedom, understood not as the power to decide, but, on the contrary, to maintain their options open, an obsession for mobility that helps them avoid or postpone commitments that can keep them anchored, a true cult of experience that translates into an explorer attitude, and finally—and very significantly—the requirement that the activity they are devoted to must make sense for them.
Pans on Wheels
More concretely, the most recurrent answers to the question: “what will you never do or be?”, abound in the following responses: “I’ll never be an office clerk,” “I’ll never stop learning or traveling,” “I’ll never stop enjoying what I do,” and “I’ll never work on something I detest.”
When we explore the ideal jobs of our young adults, we find a high proportion of respondents that would like to be their own bosses, and they find the best options in the world of gastronomy: particularly in the so-called Food Truck phenomenon. The high incidence of subjects claiming that the Road Cook is their ideal model for entrepreneurship is very significant.
What distinguishes Road Cooks from any other kind of food establishment is their liberty and control over their future, because since they’re their own bosses, they also work under their own rules, at their own pace and according to their own growth requirements. But not only that: authenticity also extends to the business unit itself, since the truck—its decoration—and the product acquire the style and personality of the Road Cook.
On the other hand, one of the problems young people face when seeking work is the lack of experience called for at the best-paid jobs, since 18.2% of young unemployed adults do not have this experience. So this kind of entrepreneurship is a reflection of what it means to be an emerging adult, jumping into the ring as synonymous to not avoiding a life experience that can generate economic benefits, and also allows them to express their personality, manage their time and be responsible for the evolution of an idea that could become a brand.
This also generates growth in other social areas, since most Road Cooks undertake the adventure in company of friends or family. This way the cost is divided among several people, as well as the responsibilities, earnings and experiences beyond bonding: now the link is also business-related.
There’s more: unlike the stereotypes that certain businessmen have against Millenials, the Road Cooks lobby hard for clear rules for the activity they have chosen. In an article published in the influential newspaper The New York Times, the famous chef René Redzepi wrote that Mexico is the next big thing in the world of gastronomy. He referred to the enormous potential of a society that has a great tradition but, rather than preserving it, now has young talent willing to explore it and take it further.
It is clear that only a few will take the path of pans, and even less the path of pans on wheels, but the phenomenon is indicative of something greater: namely, a country with young people whose entrepreneurial ideas are perfectly aligned to the requirements of innovation in an era of start-ups.