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Can You Jump A Generation Gap?


In a recent post by Mike Sansone over at Converstations.com, a couple of videos (example below – feed readers, click through to The Brand Chef) illustrated the vast differentiation in information resource vehicles and how generations have changed the way they acquire information.

Although the post was geared toward education, it really showed, from an input and resource point of view, how differing generations choose to receive their messaging. So, in complete irony, I’d recently finished management training at my new job (subject of a future post) and thought the timing of Mike’s post was impeccable.

The focus of my training sessions centered on the generational gaps between employees and how to effectively communicate and direct each for the best results. Considering this is the first time that businesses have had the opportunity to employ four distinct generations at the same time, effectively communicating with and managing them has become nothing less than daunting.

Generations / Workforce Characteristics*:
1. Matures – (born before 1946) = 7.0% of workforce
2. Baby Boomers – (1946 – 1964) = 41.5%
3. Generation X – (1965 – 1977) = 29.5%
4. Generation Y – (1978 – 1989) = 22.0%

Now, if you think about the application of my training, it was simply “how do you manage across the generations;” but if this structure applies to the workforce, then wouldn’t we assume the same should apply to the marketplace as well? They all have jobs. They all have money to spend. And, just as management styles differ for each group, each group will be influenced differently by marketing and communications.

So, from a marketing and communications standpoint, how do you address the following characteristics?

1. Matures: Loyal, Driven by commitment “to do the right thing,” for the company, community, family, etc. Somewhat resistant to change without need. Resistant to technology in majority of situations.
2. Baby Boomers: The first “Me” generation, with a clear expectation of ROI. What can you do to EARN a piece of “the good life?” Accepting of change in the face of justice, revolution. Less socially driven… Intimidated by new technology, but understanding of the need for advancement…
3. Generation X: Low loyalty in the face of opportunity and accepting of change. Do it fast and get on with “life.” “Anything is possible” “Technology Immigrants,” but comfortable with innovation.
4. Generation Y: “I want it now, ‘cause I don’t have the time to wait.” Individual within a disconnected community (face-to-face communication is virtually absent). Minuscule attention span with increasing productivity… pushing technological advances, and the first “Technology Natives.”

We now have the opportunity, as marketers and communications professionals to communicate to a wider generational span than ever before. How has your company changed to accommodate the gap? Can you create blanket programs to cover the masses? I think not.

Come on in to the kitchen and join the conversation. I’d love to cook up some dialogue with you!

Keep Cooking!
Andrew
The Brand Chef

*Reading reference:
Managing the Generation Mix – From Urgency to Opportunity by Carolyn A. Martin, Ph.D. and Bruce Tulgan

And thank you, Mike, for revealing the video for us.

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