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Xennials and the Generation Gap

July 12, 2017

Xennials and the Generation Gap

Those of us born at the tail end of the 70’s and the start of the 80’s are a bit of a conundrum. Some say we’re part of Gen X while others lump us in with the Millennials. As the middle children of the last century, I feel like no one really gets us or knows where we belong.

We came of age just as the world was experiencing a seismic shift in technology, and it’s given us a unique perspective that’s half old-school analog and half new-school digital. We were the first to grow up with household computers (who could forget the soothing sound of a dialup modem?). Whereas Gen Xers were teens or young adults when computers became mainstream and Millennials can’t even remember a time without computers.

We’ve been called “Generation Catalano”, “Xennials”, and “The Lucky Ones”, but no name has really stuck for this micro-generation that has both a healthy portion of Gen X grunge cynicism and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials. As Rolling Stone online editor and Slate contributor Doree Shafrir writes:

 “This urge to define generations is also about a yearning for a collective memory in an increasingly atomized world, at least where my generation is concerned. Indeed, where the Millennials tend to define themselves in terms of the way they live now, people in my cohort find fellowship more in what happened in the past, clinging to cultural totems as though our shared experiences will somehow lead us to better figure out who we are. …Generation Catalano is never fully comfortable with its place in the world; we wander away from the periphery and back again.”

So what does all this have to do with market research? Well, quite a lot actually. Armed with the knowledge of just how different each generation is, one can begin to see the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances required when plotting the loves, hates and wanderings of each. What works for one generation, might not necessarily work for the next. Only a few years separate Xennials from their Millenial/Gen X counterparts and yet it’s plain to see just how different & unique they really are (although I may be a bit biased here).

Being aware of the differences in a generation’s collective experience — their cultural and rhetorical contexts — is incredibly important to messaging, branding, and even the media through which we design our advertisements, press releases, or consumer engagement. It’s up to marketers to keep their finger on the generational pulse & keep up with the Jordan Catalanos and the Lena Dunhams of each generation. It’s much easier to map out your consumer’s behaviour when you’re savvy to their unique generational quirks and quibbles.

What generation are you a part of? Do you ever resent being grouped together, or do you enjoy knowing you have a cohort to share the world with? Do you miss Jared Leto as Jordan Catalano? Let us know below!

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