Don't Forget Their Similarities As You Learn Their Differences

It's easy to get swept up in the many ways Generation Y is unmistakably different than Generation X and Baby Boomers. But, what can be difficult is remembering that in spite of those differences, Millennials are also undeniably similar to Gen Xers and Boomers.

Yes, you read right.

In some ways Millennials are like the Baby Boomers marketers know so well.

Take their life goals, for instance. Our recent research showed four things consistently ranked in the top five life goals for Gen Yers, Xers and Boomers:

  • Having a good relationship with my family
  • Having excellent physical/mental health
  • Having a happy marriage
  • Having close friends

The actual ranking varied a little, but the consistency is plain. Additionally, Millennials, too, embody the American dream. In fact, they're so traditional that goals like having children, having a regular 8-to-5 job and owning a home are actually more important to them than older generations.



Yes, they may text on a phone faster than you type on a keyboard, but Millennials are actually, well ... normal.

Before the shock sets in fully, keep reading. The normalcy continues.

Generation Y doesn't just have the same goals, they share the same mindfulness about achieving and being satisfied about those goals. Millennials are often thought to be wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky youngsters blissfully unaware of how they are fumbling through life as an adult. But in reality, Millennials are quite aware of where they are falling short.

When comparing the importance Millennials place on a goal relative to the satisfaction they feel with that aspect of their life, Millennials say they fall quite short on four of their top five goals -- family, health, marriage and career success. These social butterflies even think their friendships aren't quite where they should be either.

Essentially, it boils down to this -- despite their appetite for technology and fun, people and relationships still matter the most to Millennials, just like for Xers and Boomers.

I said it earlier, but it's worth repeating.

Millennials are normal.

So, what does that mean for marketers?

Honing in on similarities can enable messaging to transcend generational boundaries and focusing on differences will allow you to target Millennials specifically.

2 comments about "Don't Forget Their Similarities As You Learn Their Differences ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Judith Brower fancher from Brower, Miller & Cole, June 24, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.

    I previously heard someone discussing that Millennials are exactly like the Silent Generation (the Baby Boomers' parents) who grew up during the depression and WWII and that they are polite to authority, conservative with their money, etc. That made better sense to me than saying they are like GenX which in their younger years, absolutely ignored authority and were "depressed" because they weren't going to make more money than their parents had made.

  2. Sharalyn Hartwell from Frank N Magid Associates, Inc., July 22, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.

    Judith, that's an interesting comparison (sorry for not seeing it early). In the context of polite to authority, I agree. Millennials question authority, but they definitely don't do it in a rebellious, defiant way (that was more characteristic of Gen X youth). They are definitely not like Gen X in their youth. Two VERY different generations, raised by two very different generations of parents. Xers were raised by Silents, Millennials by Baby Boomers.

    The interesting thing about generational comparisons is that history repeats itself. In Strauss and Howe's "Generations" they talk about the four-generation cycle. When you hear Millennials referred to as the "Next Great Generation" there's actual historical evidence to that. The Great Generation was a Civic generation. Millennials are the next Civic Generation. Silents were Adaptives (the generation following Millennials will be as well). Boomers are Idealists and Xers are Reactive. All kind of adds up, doesn't it? Thanks for your comment!

Next story loading loading..