For those still alive, the silent generation exhibit more conservative views than the generations which follow. Their childhood and youth were shaped by war and economic depressions, but fortunately enjoyed almost full employment and prosperity in their later life with the economic boom. They believe in hard work and have a waste-not, want-not mentality. They are the first generation to see the class system begin to break down and contemplated an early retirement.
World events: World War II, the Great Depression, Creation of NHS
Cultural influences: George Orwell, Orson Wells, Gone with the Wind
Technology: Technicolour films, Radio
Economics: The great depression caused a world-wide financial crisis in the 30s and the 40s and they were crippled by war and post war debt. This generation experienced rationing and little to no disposable income. This would continue until the post war economic boom of the 1950s.
As consumers: Despite coming into prosperity in their later life, benefitting from the housing boom and large pension payouts, this generation are not large spenders. Although a number of them do use a computer, they are not likely to make a purchase online or pay attention to ads preferring traditional methods of marketing.
The 'Baby Boomers' refers to the children born during the period following World War II when birth rates were high and the economy was improving. Most born during this period will be at retirement age now, or in a senior position in their jobs nearing retirement. They represent the largest and most affluent market in history - they were too young to have a personal memory of the immediate aftermath of the war, but old enough to remember the post war high. They are known for their work ethic (influenced by the silent majority), loyalty and they are very focused on their professional lives.
World events: The assassination of JFK, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Moon Landing, Korean War.
Cultural influences: The Beatles, Rock n Roll, John Wayne, Economic Migrants from the Commonwealth, Sexual revolution.
Technology: Television and telephones in the majority of households.
Economics: Generally considered to be the wealthiest generation due to growing up in a period of post war government subsidiaries. In 2004, the UK Baby-Boomers held 80% of the UK’s wealth.
As consumers: Baby Boomers are more likely to be loyal to a particular brand than the younger generations. They are also more likely to make a purchase based on the object's value.
The introduction of the contraceptive pill in the early 1960s was a huge factor in the lower birth rates of generation X , or the "baby busters" as they are occasionally referred to as. As individuals, they are known for being nihilistic and cynical, and this is certainly understandable considering that they came of age just in time to experience Thatcherism, a series of economic crises, and the AIDS epidemic, just to name a few. They were born into a time where the adult experience was valued over the child experience, divorce rates were high and both parents tended to be in full time work. They are known as the latchkey children, as they lacked adult supervision in the hours between the end of school and the time their parents returned home from work, leading them to be largely independent and self managing.
World events : Thatcherism, the AIDs 'crisis', the fall of the Berlin wall, Band Aid
Cultural influences: Punk, indie movies, mod culture
Technology: Multiple channel television and video players were introduced during their adolescence. The internet was introduced, however it was not widely availible until the 1990s, so most had no experience with it until then.
Economics: They grew up through the tough financial times of the late 1980s, but experienced the housing and technology boom when they began to enter the workforce. They hold the highest employment rate of any demographic.
As consumers: Generation X pride themselves on making informed purchasing decisions and will now turn to the Internet to research products. They are less likely to compare brand in search for value for money - they have been shown to spend extra on brands they know and trust. Marketers have struggled to reach this generation, but they have been shown to adapt to new technology, now doing banking and shopping online (despite being a teenager and young adult in the days when banking was done face to face in a bank).
The Xennial generation is a 'new micro generation' that has recently been coined to refer to those who were born during a period where they do not fit the typical definitions of Generation X or Millennials. People born between 1975 and 1983 were exposed to an analogue adolescence but a digital adulthood. This is the generation often referred to as the last generation of children to play outdoors. As this is a newly created generation category, there is not much data available yet (But our director Kelly falls into this one so she has plenty to say about Xennials). They are said to be the generation which bridges the gap between Generation X and the Millennials, possessing much of the work ethic associated with Gen X, but with the optimism of the Millennials.
World events which shaped their upbringing: The fall of the Berlin wall, Death of Princess Diana, World Wide Web open to the public, the end of Apartheid.
Pop culture influences: Britpop (Oasis vs Blur), Friends, rave scene, Ministry of Sound
Technology: World Wide Web, email, AOL, cable for television were all defining factors for Xennials in terms of technology. They are typically more tech savvy than Generation X, adapting to major technological change within their lifetimes. As social media became popular whilst they were in their 20s, they managed to avoid the cyberbullying and sexting pressures that later generations faced.
Economics: This generation got their careers underway before the economic crash of 2008. They benefitted from tuition-free higher education or low tuition fees, meaning they entered the workforce with considerably less debt than those just a few years younger.
As consumers: Xennials are tricky to pin down, as they essentially have one foot in the analogue and one foot in the digital. Xennials are a progressive generation in terms of social and cultural views, so they don’t respond as well to traditional marketing methods as their predecessors.
Millennials (often referred to as Generation Y) possesses many characteristics that are unique in comparison to past generations. They tend to value job satisfaction and fulfillment over wages, they prefer a non-authoritive approach in the workplace and have a preference for immediate feedback. They are more tech savvy than previous generations, leading to a reputation for being self-absorbed and narcissistic. They are also widely viewed as optimistic and progressive on cultural and social values.
World events which shaped their upbringing: 9/11 terrorist attacks, the credit crunch, the war in Iraq, boxing day Tsunami
Cultural influences: The Harry Potter Books, Spice Girls, Reality TV,
Technology: Although they will remember dial-up connection and a time without mobile phones, the majority of their adolescence and young adulthood would have been spent online and they would remember the birth of social media.
Economics: A combination of national debt, globalisation, lack of jobs, rising house prices and lower incomes, the Millennials are said to be the first generation to be worse off than the previous generation.
As consumers: According to research by Inkling, 60% of UK Millennials will engage with online content that interests them, even if it’s obvious that it’s been paid for by a brand. They have been shown to be more likely to be influenced by reviews and blogs as opposed to ads. 78% have said they would rather have a desirable experience over a desirable product.
Whilst we don’t know much about Gen Z yet, the oldest of the generation being 22 at the moment, we know a lot about the environment they are growing up in. Known as the first ‘tech natives’, they were born into a highly sophisticated media and computer environment and due to this they have been labeled "screen addicts". Typically, they have shorter attention spans, due to the rise of videos and easy access information. With the rise of social media and the ability to connect with anyone around the world, they value personal engagement and transparency in companies and brands, something businesses and organsiations are needing to adapt to.
World events which shaped (or are currently shaping) their upbringing: Syrian refugee crisis, Legalisation of Gay Marriage, Trump politics
Cultural influences: London Olympics, social media, online streaming
Technology: The tech revolution has had the biggest impact on Generation Z. Unlike previous generations, they were born into rapid technology advances. They’re the first generation to be spending longer online on their mobiles each day than on all other devices combined.
Economics: The rise in university tuition fees has resulted in less of this generation seeking out higher education and seeking employment instead It is predicted that, like the millennials, they will feel the strain of high housing prices.
As consumers: Generation Z are the least likely generation to remain loyal to a particular brand. They prefer their brands to reach them on social media, and are more inclined to buy products online as opposed to going to a shop. Gen Zers are also expanding on the idea, often attributed to millennials, of wanting to buy brands that stand for something. They definitely want to make the world a better place and now they have the technology to do so.
Visual storytelling matters too. Older millennials might spend time cropping photos, picking the right filters and choosing the right images to show their best selves, But for Gen Z, this is not cool at all.
And while there are plenty of risks in having influencers promote brands, influencers have a more direct approach that resonates with the people who follow them on Instagram, YouTube and elsewhere.
Although no individual can be defined entirely by the period in which they were born, it does provide powerful clues for businesses and brands to help connect with people in different age ranges. Those who work with us know that we segment people in lots of different ways - usually by motivations, beliefs and behaviours but the generations segmentation above can certainly help understand people of different ages. If you want to talk segmentation then get in touch with our team.
Which generation do you fit into and do you think it reflects you and your life now and then? Give us your thoughts below. And tell us if you think anything is missing!
Note: Dates are approximate as there is no standard definition of what the generation boundaries are.