What happened to Generation X?

Posted on the 27th July 2011

Generation X (or the Baby Boomers or even, the Divorce Generation) consists of everyone born in the 60’s 70’s & 80’s. Basically people who were born into a world with no computers.

Generation Y is anyone born after that – computer literate and tech-savvy. And the big problem that we seem to be facing in today’s marketing climate is that generation X is in charge of the marketing budget and seems to refuse to take Generation Y seriously…well – that is a big mistake.

In these tougher economic times it is important to reach this huge demographic that totals over 80 million and 200 billion dollars a year in purchasing power in the US alone.  Perhaps more importantly they are the future, as the baby boomer’s spending becomes a nominal figure, the Gen Y spending will be coming into its own.  So this is not an issue any advertiser can choose to ignore forever.  Companies will have to learn how to market to this group on their terms or risk becoming as outdated as their practices.  Though this is not a grim scenario, in fact it is a huge opportunity.  Any company that can learn to market to Gen Y effectively will have a distinct advantage over the competition, and can in fact become and stay the market leader of their industry.  Apple as a company established dominance in the young consumer market, and now droves of Gen Y consumers line up to purchase their next product.  That kind of dedication to a brand will not fade away over night, and now thanks largely to Gen Y purchasing Apple is the brand to beat, shouldn’t your company have the same advantage?

So – as a generation X’er how would you do this?  Simple – Get someone who is actually part of Gen Y, to look over things.  This seems obvious, but I constantly see ad campaigns that were very obviously designed by baby boomers trying to think “hip”. When I hear these ads I couldn’t cringe any harder if I saw my dad in a rap video. The problem is the gap in generations is too large to be successfully navigated alone. In the same way that a group of French students will all compliment each other on their conjugation, while a man from Paris throws up a little in his mouth just listening to them butcher his mother tongue. When we aren’t native speakers of a language certain subtleties tend to elude us and though the errors may be small, the ramifications on overall communication can be huge.

So get with it – there is no other choice unless you have some way of bring back the 60’s.