Generation Nation: Redefining America’s Boomers, Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z

It’s time to re-examine and perhaps even re-frame our thinking about the generations.

By Michael Wood

Editor’s Note: GreenBook remains steadfast in our commitment to grow the industry through innovation. One startup we’re enthusiastically supporting has as its mission to do just that: “Get research funded.” Collaborata, through leveraging the sharing economy for our industry, is currently funding more than 20 projects at www.collaborata.com, with new projects being funded and added each week. One of those newly featured projects is unique in its critical relevance to virtually all consumer brands, as it aims to reframe how marketers and researchers should think about generations, based upon the changing times. To launch this study, what follows is a post by one of the lead researchers, Michael Wood of 747 Insights.

Millennials have been in the spotlight almost since the day they were born. As a nation, we’ve watched them grow up with admiration, adoration, and perhaps even a touch of resentment. Early on, they were referred to as the next “Great Generation.” And, as predicted, they’ve continued to make their mark in the world, the workplace, and marketplace. Consumer brands and organizations of all types are adjusting and readjusting to meet Millennials’ ever-evolving needs and wants — as consumers, employees, and citizens. Today, Millennials in this country are 75 million strong and account for fully one-third of the U.S. workforce.

Over the years, much has been studied, written about, and reported on the tremendous impact Millennials have had on all aspects of our culture. Youth culture has become pop culture. Gone are the days of our fashion and their fashion, your music and my music, our entertainment and theirs. Today, it’s just fashion, music, and entertainment. Simply put, there are more lifestyle similarities than differences among the generations than ever before.

But do these commonalities also apply to these generations’ defining attitudes, values, and beliefs? These are the attitudes that drive consumer behavior and typically evolve with far greater nuance. What if there is a truly a “Millennial mindset” that spans the generations and is shared by the older Boomers and Xers and the younger members of Generation Z?  Do the generational differences we marketers have relied on as cornerstones of targeting efforts still hold up? Are long-held beliefs about and characterizations of these cohorts, upon which so much of our marketing is based, really accurate? Are Boomers still the most socially outspoken? Are Xers the most cynical? Are Millennials over-inflated with self-esteem? And, is Generation Z the most open and tolerant?

Together, with a number of leading brands across sectors, we believe it’s time to re-examine and perhaps even re-frame our thinking about these generations. What are the values and attitudes of each generation? And, where is the overlap that unites these cohorts based on a common mindset to which brands can resonantly speak?

Generational theory says that we’re shaped by the political, social, and economic events during our formative years. So, how do cohorts evolve and shift based not on their age, but on external forces, especially when the change is tumultuous, as we’re witnessing today?

That’s what we’re going to find out: How these generations are changing and how we, as marketers, might need to re-frame our thinking about these four big U.S. cohorts in the post-Obama era. We all need these insights, so we can each apply them to our businesses. That’s why we’re launching “Generation Nation” — a series of studies beginning with the initial release of “Values and Attitudes” — that will reveal the true essence of each generational cohort. We welcome your participation in helping to shape this research. Please click on the links below to learn more about the study and how you can participate.

Important “Generation Nation” Links:

Study and co-sponsoring details

Preview video

WebEx link for questionnaire input (please join the call!): https://collaborata.clickmeeting.com/-generation-nation-values-attitudes/register   

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