Key Differences Between the Generations
Generational differences are exciting to compare and contrast and sometimes the results may be surprising. Such differences have been the constant focus of many researchers, especially with regard to understanding how spending patterns and work values have changed over time. Baby boomers and millennials are two sound examples to compare generational differences. The key difference between baby boomers and millennials is that baby boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1964 whereas millennials are individuals born between 1982 and 2004. That’s the most obvious and easy difference to point out. From there it gets more complicated.
Who are Baby Boomers?
Baby boomers is a term used to refer to individuals born between 1946 and 1964. As of 2016, these individuals have reached the age of 52 to 70; thus, represent the retired and close to retirement age.
E.g. As per estimates, almost 75 million baby boomers have reached retirement age as of 2015 in the United States.
The generation of baby boomers commenced soon after the World War II ended in 1945, and the world experienced a significant increase in birth rates. During the boom, almost 77 million babies were born in the United States alone, amounting to nearly 40 percent of the American population. This large growth in population stimulated the disrupted economies due to war by creating a considerable rise in demand for consumer goods and employment.
The generation that powered many social movements in the 1960s and 1970s, the “flower power” Baby Boomers were the nation’s largest-ever generation until the Millennials. The Baby Boomers earned their popular name because they were all born during the post-WWII boom in birth rates (over 74.5 million babies born). Boomers’ early lives took place during an optimistic and prosperous time in the U.S., when suburbs first emerged on the outskirts of cities, offering larger houses and yards for raising children. Raised to be loyal and hard working, Baby Boomers carry many traditional values, but also a great deal of innovation, into their retirement years.
Baby Boomers at a Glance
- Born between: ~1946-1964
- Other names: Flower Children
- Characteristics: traditional, hard working
- Values: interpersonal relationships, family, stability
- Primary concerns: retirement, elderly care, long-term success for their children
Being raised in a relatively tech-free environment, Boomers value interpersonal skills and often lament the use of social media as a substitute for face-to-face connection. They are generally proud Americans, and very hard-working, who have spent most of their lives working for the same employer, buying a house, and raising a family. After a rocky youth, defined by events like the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, stability has been the name of the game for this generation.
Today, Baby Boomers, aged 50-71, are reaching their retirement years, but they are by no means slowing down. Many are sandwiched between caring for their elderly parents, and supporting their adult children, who are still burdened with student debt and expensive housing. Many have also embraced technology, and are avid smartphone users.
How to Reach Baby Boomers
They may not match the newest generations, but Baby Boomers are surprisingly well-connected online. They do, however, still have a busier offline life. To reach Boomers with your message, keep these tips in mind:
- Reach out to clubs, churches and other local groups.
- Appeal to their sense of family, and newfound freedom in retirement.
- Target carefully on social media, making sure to focus on platforms where this generation is most active.
Traits of Baby Boomers
The Baby Boomer Generation have entered or are close to entering the retirement age. As such, they have specific aspects related to retirement. Following are some of the notable traits of baby boomers.
Competitive and Objective Oriented
Baby boomers are competitive and are highly motivated towards career progression.
Baby boomers are independent and self-assured. They are said to be independent than millennials, partly since they were raised during an unsettled time in history.
Baby boomers were raised in an era where resourcefulness was a necessary trait and at a time where technological advancements that are there in the modern days were not present. As such, they were taught to obtain the maximum benefits from limited available resources.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials is a term used to refer to individuals born between 1982 and 2004. These oldest of these individuals have reached the age of 34 while the youngest of this generation is of age 12 as of 2016. Millennials are also referred to as Generation Y.
E.g. Millennials have surpassed the population of baby boomers in the United States where the number is reported to be exceeding 75.4 million
One of the most notable factors that distinguish millennials from baby boomers is the massive technology use of millennials. The Millennial generation is said to be the first to be born into a wired world, where they are ‘connected’ 24 hours a day. While smartphones are now common across all age groups, the highest usage belongs to millennials.
With many millennials entering the workforce by obtaining employment, they directly contribute to the economy. Spending patterns and trends of this workforce has to be closely monitored by businesses since they are different to former generations. The tendency towards online purchasing by youngsters is evidenced by a number of market research, which is significantly higher than non-millennials. Millennials are also the most educated generation in the Western history, with many individuals owning bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and professional qualifications. The increase in demand for private education has increased at high levels within a short period of time as a result.
The Millennials, so-called because they came of age during the new millennium, are the nation’s largest generation to-date (83 million strong), and they are very different from their Baby Boomer parents, completely upending the nation’s workforce structure. Their collective actions and values are strongly influenced by:
- 9/11 and its aftermath
- The latest Recession
- Heavy student loan debt
- Mobile technology
- A permissive upbringing
Millennials at a Glance
- Born between: ~1987-1995
- Other names: Generation Y
- Characteristics: confident, wary, tech-savvy, depressed
- Values: diversity, technology, independence
- Primary concerns: mental health, finances, work-life balance
Millennials are perhaps the most-studied and most-maligned generations to-date. Raised in less-traditional households by parents who often avoided discipline, they are regarded as being confident, sensitive, and entitled. Millennials are also the highest-educated generation and extremely tech-savvy. In fact, most of their lives, from banking to socializing, are dependent on their mobile devices. This, combined with a much less stable economy, has resulted in a very connected and inclusive generation that also suffers high rates of anxiety and depression.
Today, Millennials are changing both the workplace and the economy. They lack the workhorse mentality of their forebears, and they are wary of, rather than loyal to, authority figures (like their employer). In fact, a very large percentage of Millennials freelance, at least part-time, and work from a home office. Burdened by student loan debt, and extremely wary of the economy after the latest recession, Millennials are waiting much longer than their parents to buy a home and raise children. They also tend to value experiences, rather than possessions.
How to Reach Millennials
If you want to reach Millennials, avoid the mistake of treating them like their parents. Baby Boomers and Millennials really could not be more different.
- Appeal to their need for experiences, rather than “stuff.”
- Focus advertising efforts on social media and other online channels.
- Millennials are a very large and diverse generation; narrow your audience within this generation for best results.
- Strongly consider influencer marketing.
- Remember, Millennials like to know the “why” behind what they buy, and where they volunteer their time.
Summary – Baby Boomers vs Millennials
Though there are a number of differences between the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, there are a few primary differences worth noting. As mentioned, especially with regard to the use of technology and the role of women. Understanding these differences is very important for businesses since the purchasing patterns are directly influenced by generation specific characteristics.
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Spend time looking at what you are trying to acquire, develop, or sell to learn how you can improve the success of what you are offering. Parker Associates helps understand the consumer by answering WHO will buy, WHAT they will buy, and HOW they will buy it. When the research is completed and the analysis is done, having the answers to these questions will reveal what will provide the best success for your project. Keep asking WHO, WHAT, and HOW and keep developing to fit the need.
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David WB Parker is a principal of Parker Associates of Jacksonville, Florida, marketing consultants to the real estate industry; President of PTC Computer Solutions, IT Specialist, and an active real estate sales professional with Barclay’s Real Estate Group based in Jacksonville, FL. He can be reached at 904-607-8763 or via email email@example.com.