From Boomers to Millennials
From Boomers to Millennials: A Look at Three Generations
Generations are defined by the time period in which people are born, but the difference between eachmay be unclear. Bridging the gap between the baby boomers and Gen-Y may seem like a difficult feat, but we believe it can be done.
The years after World War II, from 1946 to 1964, saw a massive number of births (over 76 million), otherwise known as the “baby boom.” These individuals benefited from economic prosperity and now make up most personal finance assets as well as consumer spending. They witnessed major cultural and social change, from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Movement, Woodstock to Watergate. However, they grew up in a time where technology was extremely different than it is today. Landline telephones were still the sole means of communication and typewriters were the most innovative instruments in expressing the written word. However, don’t let these notions fool you. According to 2012 Pew Research, 75-80% of the generation are internet users, while about 85% had cellphones (between 22-35% smartphones). Although Baby Boomers may not be as technologically savvy as younger generations, they aren’t stuck in the Stone Age.
Gen-X came after the boom, and this segment typically describes people born between 1965 and the early 1980s. Now, they are anywhere from their early thirties to just hitting 50. This segment saw major social change as well, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of the Cold War. They are known as the MTV generation, a group that witnessed the emergence of music videos, and every type of music from heavy metal to hip hop. They are also sometimes referred to as “latch-key kids,” having been home alone more often and exposed to higher divorce rates. Although Gen-Xers were around before the iPhone craze and the rise of social media, 89% are internet users and 53% possess smartphones (according to 2012 Pew Research).
Of course, this leaves the mid-80s to early 2000 babies to be categorized as Gen-Y (also known as the Millennials). These individuals have been submersed in technology, practically since birth, and see Internet surfing and texting as second nature. There are said to be around 80 million millennials today, ranging from their early thirties to mid-teens. This makes Gen-Y the largest living generation as well as the most ethnically diverse. They are also sometimes known as “trophy kids,” due to the fact that they are often rewarded and praised. Gen-Y has lived through the War in Iraq, a tough economy and a surge of technological advances, from the introduction of iPods and iPads to the creation of the social phenomenon of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The statistics show that 66% own smartphones, 71% use social networking sites, and 93% are internet users. These facts come as no surprise and are probably increasing by the minute. To keep up with Gen-Y, businesses, marketers and even celebrities must be on top of their game when it comes to communicating. Social media channels are trumping traditional marketing strategies, making it a new and ever-changing business climate.
Although individuals from different eras may have unique ways of communicating, consuming and experiencing life, it is obvious that they are all adapting to a changing world. Yes, Gen-X and Y may have a firmer grasp on technology and social communication, but that doesn’t mean that the Baby Boomers can be written off. As time goes on, the Millennials will be replaced with even more advanced individuals, and there’s no telling what the future might bring. Due to this, businesses will need to keep adapting to the new technology available, which will help them serve their customers and bridge the gap between generations.