The Bookends Generations

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Marketers instinctively look for the unique characteristics of individual consumer groups/segments to be able to tailor an offering and the communications to resonate with their special needs/requirements.

Many of the questions I get asked about the 50-plus focus on how they differ from other age groups. When I say: “in many ways they have similar attitudes to other age groups” I can see the look of disappointment and then the suspicion that guy doesn’t know what he is talking about.

A few marketing and Internet gurus have made it their life work to research and (dare I say) emphasise the difference between Generation Y and their parents and grandparents. A lot of the arguments are built upon Gen Y’s supposed instinctive understanding of ‘technology’ that has somehow become part of their DNA. Like all of these arguments it is based on a grain of truth – the question is: “how significant of these differences.” More importantly, what is the magnitude of the differences compared to other factors like race, wealth and education.

There are a couple of studies that conclude that the Boomers and Gen Y have a lot more in common than is generally believed.

The Bookend Generations published this week by the US-based Center for Work-Life Policy and is about the US.

The Reflexive Generation is a report from the London Business School’s Centre for Women in Business and is about the UK.

The LBS study is free. The Bookend Generations is $40.

Once I have read them both I will write again on this subject in detail.

An article that summaries and merges the two sets of findings appeared in Friday’s FT.

It is nice to know that there are few other people who also question the extent of the generational differences.

Image by: Ed Yourdon

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