Young Consumers - 2Everyone is different and every generation is different. Marketers certainly know that. There is a seismic gap between the Mature Generation and the Millenials. Even Baby Boomers and Generation X have their fundamental differences.                        

However, too often we tend to lump Generation X and Generation Y together. Even their names (X & Y) are too similar. Smart marketers (and executives and boards) are wise to recognize that you must fundamentally reach these two key demographics in radically unique ways. Strauss & Howe, the leading demographers, define Generation Y as those born between 1961 and 1981 (currently between the ages of 33 and 53). Generation Y are those born between 1982 and 2003 (between ages 11 and 32). 

Consider these key points: 

  • Generation X is growing up, raising families and living their careers—Repeat after me: “Generation X are no longer the kids.” They are raising the kids (yes, that is a scary thought!). Gen. X live incredibly busy lives. They are the soccer moms and the entrepreneurs (and sometimes both). Generation X can actually have kids from diapers to college.
    • Generation Y is family oriented—“We are seeing a closer relationship between generations than we have since World War II,” says Jeffery Arnet, an expert on emerging adulthood. He goes on to say, “These young people genuinely like and respect their parents.” Guess what, mom and dad? They come back! While Generation X celebrated their independence and uniqueness, Gen. Y is closer to their parents.
  • Generation X was formed by technology—This was the first generation to grow up with cable TV, remote controls and computers in their homes. So yes, Generation X loves and embraces technology. They especially use those technology tools to stay connected (see Facebook and Pinterest demographics while keeping in mind that Facebook is skewing older).Generation X now has life experiences—These guys have been around the block. Some are bruised and battered. Many are ridiculously busy, juggling multiple kid activities with a demanding career. They are hitting mid-life crises and in some cases even dealing with aging parents.
    • Generation Y has technology in their bones—Generation Y will make Generation X look like technological fuddy-duddies. These Dot-Comers are multi-tasking masters: they play video games, talk on the phone, text message and watch TV at the same time. Just ask any Gen. X parent who programmed their phone (clue: it was probably their teenager).
    • Generation Y are experiencing first time life events—Going to college, starting the first job, getting married. These are major life events and things Generation Y is experiencing for the very first time. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennial priorities are being a good parent, having a successful job, helping others and owning a home. 

So what does all this mean for credit unions and banks? Consider these action steps:

  • Market to Generation X and Y separately
  • Connect with Generation X through their busy lives and with Generation Y through first time life events
  • Reach Generation Y through mom and dad
  • Use technology tools to simplify Gen X lives and to help Gen. Y stay in touch with their money

Generation X and Generation Y are unique. So start marketing to them uniquely.