I have a confession to make. I have a little bit of a Baby Boomer obsession.
For nearly a decade now I have been undertaking a slow, thoughtful analysis of their kind. Watching them, considering their decisions and subsequent actions and quizzing the poor souls who are my friends about my findings monopolizes an increasingly questionable amount of my time. I have two Baby Boomers on speed dial, so that’s pretty helpful. And those two, by the way, are wonderful, delightful, generous and kind human beings (thanks for that undergraduate degree, guys), but taken as a whole – looking at the herd of them…they’re like aliens. Or very foreigny foreigners. Aren’t they?
What’s so fascinating about this is that we are from them; we are their offspring. And by “we,” I mean the Millennial Generation, a generation I did not even know existed, much less that it included myself, until attending the National Main Street Conference in Chicago two years ago. The session was about motivating volunteers, or something to that effect, and in it the speaker described the varying motivations of different age groups. And then she made it to mine. She informed us that my people were called Millennials and that we included those born in 1982 or earlier (I just made it!), and she went on to describe our supposed psychological profile, likes and dislikes, tendencies and behavior. The crazy thing was that she was totally right on. It was the kind of satisfaction that people seek from fortune tellers and shrinks, but can apparently only get from market analysis.
And that’s why this is so fascinating – and validating! I haven’t been hung up on Baby Boomers because of some angsty, my-parents-just-don’t-understand complex. Besides the fact that my parents in particular are incredibly understanding people (do you get the feeling I’m bracing for possible future offense taken by my Baby Boomer analysis? that is an accurate feeling), Baby Boomers base their purchasing, travel, living, entertainment and food consumption decisions on an entirely different set of motivations than their children. Of course that’s captivating! They raised us; how did this happen? How does marketing and public relations and peer pressure and all the rest affect us so differently?
Conference Lady answered that too, that clever woman. She said that the Millennial Generation – me and my peeps – were the first generation to be marketed to from the day we were born. People were trying to sell us stuff from the cradle. The result has been that we have became very, very savvy to marketing. We get it. We can see them marketing at us, and we think they look very silly trying to do it. Have you heard all this buzz about how the lines between marketing and PR are becoming blurred? That would be because of us. We, apparently, are so sensitive to being marketed to, we want you to prove how much you want to sell us stuff by being our truest and bestest friend.
There will undoubtably be plenty of future blogspace dedicated to my thorough mocking of both Milliennials and Baby Boomers in my fascinating, 237-part series on how these amazingly different, yet directly-related-by-blood groups of people interact with the same marketplace. Trust me, I have many examples, observations and totally-scientifically-unsupported evidence to share at length. Today, however, I wanted to begin with the basic thesis of my whole brainful of forthcoming rants:
Baby Boomers and Millennials eat, live, play, shop, buy and travel for completely different reasons. From a marketing perspective, and from a societal perspective, this changes everything. Really, let it sink in –
This changes everything.