Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The real insights on connecting with your consumer: how generational characteristics impact marketing strategy

How did “Millennials” come about? We all use this term but little know the actual meaning behind it.

Neil Howe opened up with this insightful fact explaining that this group will graduate in 2000- granting them the title, “Millennials”.

Generations last about 20 years and they have attitudes and behaviors in common that differ from those of other generations. It’s a length of a socially defined phase of life. This causes discontinuous gaps of generations.

One important note: always consider thinking about someone’s parents when describing their fit into a generation as this also impacts their traits.

G.I generation: Think Kennedy, Reagan, Walt Disney- they had this spirit of sacrifice. We gave them respected, granting them the name “Senior Citizens” as opposed to “Old People” used in the past.

 Silent generation: Signal a break- Think Elvis Presley, John McCain, Colin Powell, MLK. “We don’t want to change the system, we want to work within the system.” They were not risk takers

Boomers: Clintons, Oprah Winfrey, Springsteen- Their individualism, their sense of self sufficiency. Women began to think of themselves as economically self-sufficient. Their value orientation- good vs bad, true vs. false, right vs. wrong. They like the experience of things. The “yuppie” culture.
They’re suspicious of omnishopping. They don’t like those cameras, they don’t want their name noted, but they do account for majority of shoppers. They’re not retiring instead they’re working longer.

Gen X: Think Obama, Michael Jordan, Kurt Cobain- today 32-52- lack of commonality- most spread out in terms of income and wealth. “I get somewhere form being different form my peers.” Generation born into divorce rate, economic struggles, and skepticism. Maximum individualism and risk taking. They appeal to efficiency, incentives, and survivalism.
Omnishoppnig to them deals with competition- extreme couponing and coupon codes- they want to get the edge on people.

Millennials: Think Zuckerberg, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars- They came right after the divorce rate peaked as did the abortion rate and recreational drugs – this caused society to want to give kids a new sense of structure, optimism, etc. Baby protection home devices become popular- cities become safer- child well being considered much higher and children are considered “special”. X’ers are resentful and so take this out on Millennials which has shown to be less than optimal.
This change can also be found in the military where a completely new approach has been taken to train these Millennials involving a more work along- personal approach as opposed to the previous “break them down and rebuild them” hardcore approach.

They’re more positive in all aspects of life. Risk seeking and independence are lower. They’re looking for long term planning. They look for gamification. They like to be connected with family and use technology to do so.

They will face huge crises- geopolitical, economic, and this will reshape them profoundly.  

Janel Parker, Market Research Consultant at SKIM, an international consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in Marketing and Psychology from Cornell University. Her previous experience at a social media agency combined with her knowledge from SKIM provide for a unique understanding of the relationships between social media and marketing. She can be reached at

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