Playing the Generation Game
Let’s start with a simple question. Do you know which generation group you are in?
There are so many different terms that it has become quite confusing, especially as I now see business articles referring to target audiences as Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers. These are terms frequently used in the news and in marketing, but what do they all mean?
A recent article I received, about finding the best social media platform for my target audience, had me scouring the internet to find a concise definition. Then I thought, if I don’t fully understand what generation groups are, other people may be just as confused.
It’s not just a personal thing. From a business perspective, we need to be seen on the right social media platforms. We have to know which groups our customers fall into, because different generations have their own social media favourites.
When people talk about Generation X it can be a bit baffling. It seems to me that it’s because when we think about generations we think about the family – parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents, etc.
This is one way of looking at it, and it’s called ‘Familial Generation‘. You and your siblings are one generation, your parents, aunts and uncles, are another, grand-parents are another. And so on.
When you hear talk about Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials there is a different term for these and this is when it gets a bit mind-boggling. These are called ‘Sociological Generations‘. It’s even more of a tongue-twister than ‘Familial’ isn’t it? I think it’s more important to know the actual group names, than understand their definitions, but I’ll try and summarise it.
Putting people into sociological categories – Baby Boomer, Generation X, Y, etc is more complex because it’s seen from two different angles.
One is based on birth rates as documented by the census, which considers population expansion and contraction. So if there is an age difference of 5 or 6 years between siblings, according to the census they could be in different sociological generations. If your parents were very young when they had you, you could potentially belong to the same category, as defined by the census. That part of it is probably the most difficult to understand.
The other way of defining sociological generations is through life events that link groups of people. Sociologists look at common life events and shared experiences to define the groups.
For instance, ‘Generation X’ grew up with parents who divorced and mothers who worked. Personal computers were just coming on the scene. And there was that cross-over from analog to digital tv. Along comes MTV, Atari, computer games, Apple, YouTube, Facebook. It’s these elements which are used to define the X, Y and Zs.
Therefore, in marketing terms, it’s the sociological generations that are being referring to, and that we should try to understand.
Identify the Generation Group
I’ve made it into the Baby Boomers group (1963) so this article, about finding the Best Social Media Platforms is actually pretty accurate when I think of how I interact with the world wide web.
Knowing the generation group will help to focus on theright social media outlets. So saving time posting to the right social media sites might give us more time to focus and improve other business areas, such as our websites, orimproving our content.
It won’t be a ‘one-size fits all’ for every business scenario, and there might be some trial and error. But, when we’re running a business, this ‘Generation Game’ might give us more time to spend with our loved ones. That has to be a ‘Brucie’ bonus.
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