Tracy found a fascinating generational study written by Dr. Jill Novak, a marketing professor at the University of Phoenix and Texas A&M. It is written so that sales and marketing professionals can better wrap their products in ribbons and bows that will appeal to certain demographics.
It begins with a disclaimer that it is only a general guide, but in reading through the characteristics of each generation, I can certainly agree with the broad strokes. If you’re interested, you can see it here…http://www.marketingteacher.com/lesson-store/lesson-six-living-generations.html
The study breaks down into six generations now living in the US: GI (born 1902-1926), Mature/Silents (born 1927-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), Generation Y/Millennium (born 1981-2000) and Generation Z/Boomlets (born after 2001).
Though it’s a marketing study, in its assessment of the values distilled out of each generation it highlights the events that shaped each of them, and shows how those values then shaped the next. And though it is not a psychological profile, it’s fairly clear how the forces at work on each generation brought us to where we are today as a society and it even sheds light on the animus poisoning the current political climate.
My parents were born at the tail end of the GI generation, children of WWI and fighters in WWII, young during the Great Depression. There was no retirement; they bought with cash or did without; they worked until they died…there was no “retirement.” Marriage was for life, divorce and children out of wedlock were not accepted; near absolute standards of right and wrong.
The Mature/Silents lived their formative years in “suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness.” Marriage was still for life and women stayed home to raise kids unless they chose to teach, nurse or become a secretary. Men were loyal to a job or corporation and worked there for life. Retirement meant sitting in a rocking chair in peace. The worst complaints about school children were about passing notes and chewing gum. They are the “richest and most free-spending retirees in history.”
My five siblings and I were born into the Baby Boom although my two older sisters rubbed right up against the Mature/Silents. It’s the “me” generation and is broken into two subsets, the “party-hardy career climbers (70s and 80s) and the save-the-world revolutionaries (60s and 70s). Buy it now and use credit; the first TV generation; the first divorce generation. First generation to have children raised in homes where mom most likely worked outside of home and was not “omnipresent.” First generation to think of retirement as being able to enjoy life after the children have left home.
Generation X “latch-key kids, grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents.” Cynical of major institutions which failed their parents, or them, eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children. Raised in the transition from written knowledge to digital knowledge. Committed to self over career or organization, average 7 career changes in a lifetime. Into labels and brand names, late to marry (after co-habitation), most deeply in credit card debt, values are relative…must tolerate all peoples. School problems are about drugs. Survivors as individuals.
Generation Y/Millennium shift back to respecting authority, raised by omnipresent parents. Crime rates and teen pregnancy rates fell, but they live with the thought they could be shot at school, hence the world is not a safe place. They schedule everything and feel enormous academic pressure, and have never known a world without computers. The world is a 24/7 place and they want fast and immediate processing. They have been told they are special and expect to be treated that way, and they do not live to work.
Generation Z is the next boom generation with a record number of births in 2006, 49% of them being Hispanic. Since the early 1700s the most common name in the US was ‘Smith’; it is now Rodriguez. Children leave behind toys at a younger and younger age in favor of electronics; KGOY- kids growing older younger. In the 1990s Mattel’s average market age was 10; it’s now 3. They are savvy consumers; they know what they want and how to get it and are over-saturated with brands.
I do apologize; I didn’t intend initially to repeat so much of what was in the report, but it was hard to eliminate much. Our society is in constant flux, refining and redefining our values as each generation bumps and grinds through the churning river of time. We try to pass on to the next generation what we hold dear, and try to discard those strictures under which we chafed. And in that passing on, we over-reach, we miss our marks in what we try to teach, but when we hold up a mirror to our lives, it is reflected in the next generation.
It’s a marketing report, meant as a means to an end for the corporations feeding the endlessly consumptive society we have built. But it shows we can change, and it shows that we do change regardless of those who refuse to accept the change.
Those selling products at a profit already know the most common name in the US is now Rodriquez. Many of those now holding the strings from which dangle those in power are from a generation that thought women belonged in the home; they bought with cash or did without; there formative years preceded civil rights or the changing perspectives on divorce, single parents, homosexuality. They find it hard, very hard to believe, impossibly hard to believe that the most common name in the United States of America is now Rodriguez.