“I should have picked Yale over Baylor!”
“How did Northern Iowa choke up that lead?”
“Bronson Koenig is a beast!”
“C’mon, Tom Izzo! I picked your team to win the championship!”
Ahhh, March Madness. Every year, people all across the country forget about the real issues going on in the world and spend a month screaming at our TVs, phones, and tablets hoping for the 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance that we will have picked the perfect bracket. Or, at the very least, win our bracket pool and make a couple of bucks.
The emotion we elicit that comes from watching Texas A&M beat Northern Iowa in the Round of 32 will cause us to jump off our couches, throw our phones across the room, and either curse or bless the basketball gods who made the Northern Iowa Panthers choke up a 12 point lead in the final minute.
So why does my generation, Generation Edge, love the NCAA Tournament, possibly more than any other generation?
My generation contains three major characteristics which help explain why we love the NCAA tournament.
What are these three characteristics?
The first major characteristic that comes to mind when talking about #GenEdge and the NCAA tournament is our tendency to root for the underdog.
Rooting for the underdog is engrained in American culture. Movies such as Miracle on Ice and Hoosiers have made us want to pull for the little guy.
Why does my generation, Generation Edge, love an underdog even more than other generations?
The reason all people like underdogs is because we feel sympathetic with those teams who nobody expects to win. This triggers a sense of fairness and justice, which gives us a personal connection to the underdog.
My generation has only known a world where our backs have been against the wall. The biggest events that my generation will be remembered for are the Great Recession of 2008 and the aftermath of 9-11, which led to a global war on terror.
While a college basketball tournament obviously means nothing compared to an event as horrific as 9/11, we feel comforted when a small team that we can personally associate with beats a powerhouse that everyone expected to win.
The second major characteristic that attracts my generation to the NCAA Tournament is our competitive drive.
We are taught early in our educational career that we are not only at school to learn, but rather to perform. This has fostered a sense of competition and a need for data that shows we either won or lost, succeeded or failed.
There is nothing we hate worse than the participation trophy. If we achieve something, we better have earned it. Unlike our preceding generation, we don’t expect the real world to be easy.
March Madness is a cruel and realistic example of the real world. Everyone was riding high on the Michigan State Spartans coming into the tournament, and then everyone forgot about them once they lost to Middle Tennessee State.
The single-elimination bracket model that the NCAA Tournament utilizes in order to drive more awareness, excitement, and importance around each tournament game gives us a rooting interest which makes us want to watch every game.
The last major characteristic that helps to attract my generation to March Madness is our need to be able to customize our experience.
By letting us do our own analysis and make our own decisions, the customizable bracket approach lets my generation feel empowered to make our own decisions.
We are also the most socially connected generation. Competing in a pool with friends and classmates allows us to interact with each other, which is a more personal connection than any big organization can provide.
So what do these traits that have helped the NCAA Tournament become so popular mean for business?
We expect products and experiences that allow us to make independent choices and decisions. This is a reason why customizable apparel has become so popular among youth. We are also very competitive and are always scouring the internet for the best deals. Businesses can adapt to this trend by becoming easily recognizable on the internet and display cheaper prices online for products that we can find in a brick-and-mortar store.
“The thrill of victory - The agony of defeat”
Legendary sportscaster Jim McKay - Yes, as a #GenEdger, I had to look him up - coined the above phrase that most accurately represents my generation. The NCAA Tournament hits us in all the right places, whether it be cheering for the small-town underdog or trying to win our bracket pool. There is a lot that both people and businesses can learn about my generation from March Madness and it will be essential to adapt to these trends among many others in order for a company to stand the test of time.