Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What do Boomers and Gen Y have in common?

First, Boomers
Boomers have redefined retirement, the latest in a lineage of reinvention they’ve left in their wake. They refuse to go quietly into the night. Unprecedented numbers of this group are giving up the porch swing (or couch) to be actively involved in volunteering. Many report it is a new – albeit unpaid – career.

Now, Generation Y
This cohort has an insatiable appetite for communication. They suffocate without access to IM, e-mail, cell-phones. It is their oxygen, crucial not just for staying ‘with it’ but for managing their social capital and maintaining their place in the social hierarchy. They are prolific bloggers (particularly girls) endlessly taking part in quizzes and promoting the results.

Finally, the tie that binds
Both Boomers and Gen Y share a quest for significance.

Boomers are older and more secure with themselves, having achieved moderate financial success in their lives, but there is still a longing. Theirs is a desire not just to ‘do good’, but to be remembered for something meaningful.

Gen Y craves popularity but the ability to express character is limited when everyone has access to the same brands. Influence has become the new medium, if not currency. By proselytizing opinions their personal brand can achieve significance across a variety of channels: through how many friends will listen to them in the schoolyard or on-line, how many friends they have on Myspace, how many followers they have on Twitter. Of course it’s ‘significance’ with a very short shelf life (especially with this ADD affected group). And that’s the difference in a core theme that these two groups share.

1 comment:

Kyle Studstill said...

I've done a lot of thinking on generational segments for some past projects, and it's definitely fascinating to see how cyclical many shared attitudes and behaviors are throughout history. Each group has these defining characteristics forged by shared experiences, that in turn define the reality of the world for the generation that follows. Naturally the experiences this following group shares are in many cases direct reactions to the originally established worldviews (think: Gen X conception of work/family values in direct contrast to those of their near-boomer parents), and again as time goes on a new, subsequent generation reacts in similar fashion. This 'counter to a counter' generation ends up sharing a lot of values with the generation two places before it, in very much the same way that a number of dynamics play into the similarity of siblings in alternating birth order. It's interesting to see similarities between Gen X and the Silent Generation as well. Fascinating thoughts, thanks for sharing.