Generation Theory


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I find Generation Theory fascinating & prepared this presentation for my colleagues. I used many sources, some of which I reference under recommended reading, all images were sources from the Internet.

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  • Silent/Veteran (born 1925-1945), Boomers/Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1982) and Generation Y/ Millennials (born mid 1983-2000s). Silent - Mandela. Boomers - start date of the National Party’s assent to power and implementing of separate development policies in 1949. Gen X - June 16, 1976. Gen Y - ending of apartheid and Mandela’s release
  • Called coz quieter than BBs & isn’t discussed much. not the oldest living generation, is the oldest still in the workplace. Influenced by Great Depression and World War II. Conservative, hard-working & structured, preferring rules, order, formal hierarchies. “waste not, want not” mentality, hate getting into debt. progress is slow, incremental advancement, while minimising risk. Failed banks and businesses, not to trust others for their security, so they save, pay cash and have a conniption if a cheque bounces. They’re fairly authoritarian, governed by rules and in turn respect all authorities. They do what they’re told without question, are paternalistic and were obedient to both parents. needing respect, and as preferring to make decisions based on what worked in the past. believe in paying their dues, for whom their word is their bond, who prefer formality, have a great deal of respect for authority, like social order and who love their things and tend to hoard stuff. loyal workers, highly dedicated, averse to risk and strongly committed toward teamwork and collaboration. high regard for developing communication skills. consistency and uniformity, seek out technological advancements, be past-oriented, display command-and-control leadership reminiscent of military operations, and prefer hierarchical organizational structures. stable, detail oriented, thorough, loyal, and hard working, although they may be inept with ambiguity and change, reluctant to buck the system, uncomfortable with conflict, and reticent when they disagree
  • Massive increase in birth rate. largest impact on society due to its size. Postwar generation, the drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll set who grew up during a time of grand visions. “We want you to have everything we never had” The idealistic visions of politicians and those fighting for freedom, or of those putting a man on the moon, all served to energise a generation of young people, who were simultaneously being culturally and socially revolutionised. They believe there’s a solution to every problem (Neil Armstrong is their icon and they believe if man can walk on the moon, ‘ we can do anything.’) They initiated anti-Vietnam rallies, and were the young people on the streets on June 16, 1976, in South Africa. respect authority figures, but as they witnessed their foibles, learned not to “trust anyone over 30”. highly moralistic and idealistic and are now legislating against the excesses of their own youth – banning smoking, fighting sex, swearing and violence in movies. They’re more highly educated than any other generation in history, run the media and are lords of the 10 second sound bite. They’re enthusiastic, energetic visionaries – Boomers are passionately concerned about participation in the workplace, motivated by vision, mission and strategy, and care about creating a fair and level playing field for all. They love conspicuous consumption and have created more wealth (and accumulated more debt) than any other generation, ever. They never stop talking and are always right. special generation capable of changing the world, have equated work with self-worth, contribution and personal fulfillment”. hard work and sacrifice are the price to pay for success. They started the workaholic trend. teamwork, collaboration and group decision-making, competitive, believe in loyalty toward their employers. confident task completers and may be insulted by constant feedback; want their achievement to be recognized. value health and wellness as well as personal growth and personal gratification, and seek job security. sense of entitlement, and as being good at relationships, reluctant to go against peers and judgments of others who do not see things their way. They also thrive on the possibility for change, have been described as the show me generation, and will fight for a cause even though they do not like problems. value the chain of command, may be technically challenged and expect authority.
  • Birth-rate begins to decrease. X is the unknown factor, the variable in the equation. In South Africa, they were old enough to remember apartheid and be judged as having been part of it, but not old enough to have fought for or against the struggle. Come of age at turn of century. Unlike their parents who were molly cuddled as children, X’ers grew up on their own - ‘latchkey kids’ who returned to empty homes while their parents worked long hours to sustain the yuppie dream. As divorce statistics soared (thanks to workaholism), X’ers have become sceptical of relationships, dating and marrying cautiously and their peers have become surrogate families. They’re risk takers and love challenges, choosing to spend their money on experiences, as opposed to Boomers who spend theirs on showy assets. “latchkey kids”, children of divorce, experiencing an era of crises – from Watergate and June 16, 1976, to the energy crisis and the collapse of communism, it was clear the adults didn’t know what was going on. X’ers get bored easily, nothing keeps their attention for very long. Apart from their cynicism, they’re adaptable, independent and pragmatic – not living to work, but working in order to have a life. Today, they need options and flexibility; they dislike close supervision, preferring freedom and an outputs-driven workplace. They love change so much they actually need it. Xers strive for balance in their lives – they work to have a life; they don’t live to work. grew up in a period of financial, familial and societal insecurity. They witnessed their parents get laid off and the decline of the American global power. They grew up with a stagnant job market, corporate downsizing, and limited wage mobility, and are the first individuals predicted to earn less than their parents did. They have grown up in homes where both parents worked, or in single parent household because of high divorce rates, and as such, became latchkey kids forced to fend for themselves. MTV, AIDS and worldwide competition and are accustomed to receiving instant feedback from playing computer and video games. independent, autonomous and self-reliant than previous generations. not overly loyal to their employers.strong feelings of loyalty towards their family and friends. continuous learning and skill development. strong technical skills, are results focused, and are “ruled by a sense of accomplishment and not the clock”. Xers naturally question authority figures and are not intimidated by them. Money does not necessarily motivate members of this generation, but the absence of money might lead them to lose motivation. They like to receive feedback, adaptable to change, prefer flexible schedules. Tolerate work as long as it is fun. Entrepreneurial. pragmatic and creative. Although they are individualistic, they may also like teamwork, more so than boomers.
  • In South Africa, the Millennials are linked to the ending of apartheid and Mandela’s release. They are living in an age of unprecedented diversity and exposure to other cultures. They are growing up quickly, too quickly, some would say. They’re confident, and want to change the world. ‘ Baby on Board ‘ car stickers heralding a shift away from social trends of child neglect towards protection and support. The new status symbol is a stay-at-home mom, and even stay at home fathers who are now working from home, or downsizing careers to spend more time with their kids. In South Africa they receive free health care and education. They’re confident (to the point of arrogance), assertive, optimistic, and incredibly brand-conscious. They’re money-wise, own cell phones – and think nothing of calling their parents from school to remind them when they need to be picked up. Millennials have grown up in a world immersed in information and communication technology. At their fingertips they have more processing power than most nations ever had, and their approach to learning is a lifelong experiential one. They program the video machine, retrieve Mom’s SMS’s for her and surf the net to advise Dad on the best car to purchase. It’s no wonder they regard themselves as smarter than their parents – who in turn are thinking “How old are these kids really? It’s as though they’re ten years older than we were at that age. If the previous generation is the X generation, Millenials have been coined the “Y” generation for their inquisitive approach. Unlike the Boomers who throughout the 60’s shouted “Why!” with a rebellious and clenched fist, these kids ask “Why?” because they really want to know. They’re community minded, conscious of being part of a global village. shaped by parental excesses, computers and dramatic technological advances. comfort with technology. value team work and collective action. embrace diversity. optimistic, adaptable to change. flexibility, independent, balanced life, multi-taskers, most highly educated generation. Demanding. most confident generation.
  • Silents & Boomers -
  • Silents – resentful, irritated, dominate behind the scenes, block new thinking Boomers – team building: common experience & shared outlook, simulate war – river rafting, mountain climbing, other extreme experiences S&B – team building, events, conferences; appropriate to conform; resolve conflict at all costs; technology gets in the way – look me in the eye and engage with me X&Y – Get together when a job needs doing, not just because; individuality; agree to disagree; Technology HELPS us to connect, creates a deeper layer of communication -- Gen X – misconception that they not team players – not so, just differ in defining good team, individuals or smaller groups work on tasks and are trusted to deliver, MORE collaborative Gen Y – Empowerment & inclusion since childhood, Value transparency & democracy, uncomfortable with homogenous, single demographic groups, will be good at encouraging all members to participate
  • Silents – many cannot afford to retire; retraining instead; extended leave; etc. Boomers – competitive due to number of them in school, uni, etc so excel to stand out
  • extremely loyal toward their employers. Xers - job-hopping as a valid career advancement method. loyalty to an employer did not guarantee job security, from witnessing job losses among parents who were loyal to their employers and played by the rules. More ‘me’ oriented. Expect to be promoted more quickly than older workers, less likely to feel that work should be an important part of their life and reported higher intention of quitting their job if they won a large amount of money. Increased loyalty where opportunities for advancement and promotions, opportunities to learn new skills and develop a challenging job, as well as better compensation such as higher salaries or benefits. Employees were also more likely to stay if the company’s values matched their own. For instance, how a business handles organizational change and manages itself as well as whether the business creates opportunities for a better quality of life, better communication, and improvements such as more autonomy, control and greater contribution to their specific job were cited as company values that mattered.
  • Universities – 2 Audiences: Parents pay, but students make final decisions. But the things you want to highlight to attract students (freedom & campus Fun) are negatives to the parents & to attract parents (civilised, controlled, academic environment) deter students. 2 different audiences with different expectations & market appeal. Advert for parents in business & women’s interest magazines; adverts for students on music radio, internet, gaming & sport magazines
  • Generation Theory

    2. 2. AGENDA What is Generation Theory? Generations Today Generations in the Workplace Silent Generation Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y / Millennials Cuspers Working with the Generations Generations & … Tips & TricksAdvertising / Marketing to the Generations Attitudes to Advertising & Advertisers Key Marketing Themes & Tips Recommended Reading Conclusion Questions
    3. 3. WHAT IS GENERATION THEORYGeneration theory explains that the era in which a personwas born affects how they view the world. Our valuesystems are shaped in the first decade of our lives, by ourfamilies, friends, communities, significant events and thegeneral era in which we are born.A "generation" tends to be about 20 years in length,representing roughly the time from the birth of a group ofpeople to the time they come of age and start having theirown children. Typically, generations are bound bysignificant events in the country or region being considered.This leads to slightly different dates in different areas.
    4. 4. GENERATIONS TODAYIn the past century, the effects of international media andnews channels, communication technologies and theincreasing interconnectedness of the world have meantthat increasing numbers of people around the world areimpacted by defining events.Facing similar issues, impacted by the same events andsharing similar experiences, people of the same age arelikely to have similar underlying value systems, regardless oftheir country or community of birth. These "value systems"are the drivers of behaviour and attitudes, and are goodpredictors of behaviour and expectations.
    5. 5. GENERATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE USA /EUROPE SOUTH AFRICA1930-1950 1950-1970 1970-1990 1990-2010
    7. 7. BABY BOOMERS
    8. 8. GENERATION X
    9. 9. GENERATION Y / MILLENNIALS (1981-2010)
    10. 10. CUSPERSIn some countries, there are very specific moments in timewhen one generation ends and a new one starts, mostgenerations do not have precise start and end dates. There is afair amount of "overlap" between two generations, producinga "cusp" generation between the each successivegenerational group.
    11. 11. WORKING WITH THE GENERATIONSTension results from generational differences that existbecause of contrasting values. We make choices & decisionsbased on our value system, & differing values often lead tomisunderstandings & misinterpretation. This, in turn, hampersour relationships & lessens the effectiveness of our worktogether.
    12. 12. GENERATIONS & CORE VALUESSILENTSConformity, Stability, SecurityBOOMERSPersonal & Social Expression, Idealism, Health & WellnessGEN XFree Agency, Independence, “Street Smarts”, CynicismGEN YCollaboration, Social Activism, Tolerance for Diversity
    13. 13. GENERATIONS & RESPECT “Everyone wants respect, they just don’t define it the same way”SILENTS & BOOMERS•Command & control leadership reminiscent of military operations•Prefer hierarchical organizational structures•Experience & Title deserve respect•Want people to do what they are told•Don’t appreciate equal respect showed to allGEN X & GEN Y•Both comfortable with authority figures•Not impressed with titles or intimidated by them•Find it natural to interact with their superiors & to ask questionsGEN Y•Taught to ask questions, does not equate with disrespect•Respect must be earned & do not believe in unquestionable respect•Want to be listened to & have people pay attention
    14. 14. GENERATIONS & ATTITUDE TO WORKSILENTSI work hard because it is my duty to do soBOOMERSWork is self-fulfilling, it makes me feel importantGEN XI work to fund my lifestyleGEN YMy work will help change the world
    15. 15. GENERATIONS & CAREERSSILENTSOne field, One employer, Job is something you do all your life,Responsibility, Loyalty, DedicationBOOMERSChosen to impress, Seek Challenge, Offices & Titles, Trapped, Secondcareers to do something meaningfulGEN XPortable careers, Industry & Job change 3-5 times, Preparing for theworst, Decline promotion if negatively affects familyGEN YLifelong CV building exercise, Portfolio of careers (every decade),Paid for talent & output, not title or position, Multiple jobs at once,Volunteer work
    16. 16. GENERATIONS & TEAMWORKSILENTSTeam has a leader and workers, Leaders are bossy, speak down toworkers, no need for reasons, no dissent toleratedBOOMERSEvery member empowered, have their say, Common vision, values,Homogenous in purpose & approach, Paperwork, Team buildingGEN XValue individualistic approach, Members bring strengths, Differencestrump similarity, Designate tasks & trust resultsGEN YNeed objectives & roles clearly defined, Need to understand WHYoutput is required, Slower but quality, Need diversity, Good Mediators
    17. 17. GENERATIONS & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY SILENTS Too informal for the workplace; May use for personal, but inappropriate when dealing with work or colleagues BOOMERS Yes to Email, SMS, IM; No to social media – limiting/banning Facebook, LinkedIn seen as “looking for another job”; need to learn it is a whole new way to connect, interact, converse, contribute & be involved GEN X & GEN Y Leading the way in optimising tools; instant gratification, no delays; allows work – life balance
    18. 18. GENERATIONS & REWARDS, FEEDBACK, EVALUATION SILENTS Job well done is the reward, retirement the ultimate reward; No news is good news; Formal reviews intimidating BOOMERS Reward is public praise, corner office, seniority, title, perks, gizmos, on- site offerings; Formal, annual feedback, paperwork, advance notice, policy, ritual trumps content GEN X Freedom the only reward, flexi-time, work from home, fun informal workplace; Feedback after every project, won’t move on without, less structured informal approach, improvement & development GEN Y Meaningful work, lifestyle rewards; Instant feedback whenever asked, optimise reviews, contextualise their work in the scheme of things
    19. 19. GENERATIONS & LOYALTYSILENTSContract - My loyalty for job security; Going the extra mile; Don’tbadmouth my company; Going down with the companyBOOMERSLoyalty if - Challenges that allow self-fulfilment; Clear upward careerpath; Not retrenching in tough times; TransparencyGEN X“If you want loyalty, get a dog”; Don’t believe in job security;Balance, freedom & rewards now, companies collapse; Co-workersabove companyGEN YBalance; Part of a family; Loyal to causes not companies;Engagement; Get to know the individual & connect with them
    20. 20. GENERATIONS & DRESS CODESSILENTSConservative suit & tie, grey, pinstripes, no knees or cleavage, judgea book by its cover, the “problem with kids today”BOOMERSBlue jeans, sneakers, t-shirts; now suits & old school ties; power suits,shoulder pads, blouses with feminine ties; to keep up labels, brandnames, designer suits; instituted “casual” dayGEN XDressing down; grunge; baggy pants; “bedhead”; open-neck shirts isformal; shorts/jeans but will suit up for meetings; reaction formaluniforms, flat shoes, suits onlyGEN YSelf-expression is a human right; body piercing; visible tattoos; long-haired men, shaved-haired women; demand reasons for dress codes
    21. 21. WORKING WITH THE GENERATIONS Tips & Tricks: Silents•Face-to-face•Don’t use tech speak•Don’t badmouth management or the company•Show respect for their experience & accomplishments•Try to appear interested in past experiences, make them feelvalued and included: “It’s important for the rest of us to hearwhat has, and hasn’t, worked in the past”  
    22. 22. WORKING WITH THE GENERATIONS Tips & Tricks: Boomers•Face-to-face or  telephone•Reassure that their input is crucial to the success of the project •Make them feel valued with statements like: “We recognizeyour unique and important contribution to our team.”  •If you approach them with a lack of effort or ambition, they willshut you out.
    23. 23. WORKING WITH THE GENERATIONS Tips & Tricks: Xers•Email or SMS  •Frequent feedback on performance•Be conscious of the value they place on their time•Titles do not impress them•NEVER SAY “because I said so”•Appeal to sense of freedom & individuality – “Do it your way”
    24. 24. WORKING WITH THE GENERATIONS Tips & Tricks: Gen Ys•Social Media, IM, SMS & Email•Respect must be earned; it is not freely granted based on age,authority or title•Explain how what they do fits into the big picture, explain howeverything fits together – they want to effect change and makean impact•As multi-taskers, they need more than one activity at a time•Personal life will always outweigh work
    25. 25. MARKETING & ADVERTISING TO THE GENERATIONS Attitudes to Advertising & AdvertisersSILENTSAdvertising should tell me why your product is better than anythingelse. Advertisers are the experts.BOOMERSAdvertising should explain how your product will enhance my image.Advertisers should flatter me – I like it.GEN XAdvertising needs to be surprising & unexpected. Don’t trustadvertisers. Sceptical. Cynical.GEN YAdverts should entertain me. I know that the advertisers know that Iknow that they are advertising.
    26. 26. Key Marketing Theme & Tips to Market to Silents “We’re not too old”•Ensure your grammar & spelling are perfect•Voice-over / actors have old-fashioned, easily understood accents•They respect expert opinion•Important people, not celebrities, as endorsements (sports heroes)•They believe hard work, not luck, is what makes things work•They are enjoying a “second middle age”, don’t see themselves as aging•They’re spending their kids’ inheritance•They like to buy the market leader•They don’t want to be rushed•Employ them in focus groups to help you really hone your messaging
    27. 27. Key Marketing Theme & Tips to Market to Boomers “Make me feel special”•They are busy, want things faster, convenience, & don’t mind paying for it•Put the label on the outside – class & quality, conspicuous consumption•Use 60s & 70s music – they first put music in ads, they like “their” music•They believe they know better, so forget endorsements by other generations•They distrust authority so give product benefits straightforwardly & honestly•BUT they are attracted by celebrity endorsements & image•Use loyalty schemes•Healthy, fit, self-indulgent, fairly wild in spending habits•Wealthier than any other generation & keeping it for themselves•Power in commerce, industry & politics in boomer hands
    28. 28. Key Marketing Theme & Tips to Market to Gen X “I am an individual”•Give it to them straight – they are smart & savvy•They are easily bored so they enjoy clever tricks & the unexpected•Entertain them. The advert must be an art form in itself•Respond to current language that’s irreverent, direct & not politically correct•Don’t be linear, used to multilayering & enjoy mystery & paradox•They value friends, don’t go for the lone ranger look•Value choice, customer opinions & personalisation – NO one size fits all•Forget product loyalty, concentrate on selling them a concept•They have no heroes, only celebrities•They buy brand for its quality, not its image
    29. 29. Key Marketing Theme & Tips to Market to Gen Y “Entertain Me”•They are confident, don’t treat them like kids. They’re almost arrogant in theirinsistence that you not talk down to them•Know how what you are marketing is produced; avoid skeletons in closets•They’re plugged in & want messages in sound bites on modern media•Use social media to connect with them•Make sure your website says who you are, not just what you sell•Staff are your best tool; passionate about products & the company•Time is more precious to them than money. They will pay for convenience &time saving devices•Endorsements will work with them as they look up to heroes
    30. 30. MARKETING & ADVERTISING TO THE GENERATIONS Multi-generational Marketing •Create separate brands for each generation •Run multiple campaigns in different mediaNiche publications, TV channels, Radio Stations, Internet •Key is to be sensitive to different value systems
    31. 31. ConclusionUnderstanding the generations, the things they experienced thatshaped the way they feel, think & behave, can allow us to optimisethe way in which we approach people of different generations.From the people we work with, our customers & even our customers’customers; if we take the time to consider who they are in the world,we will better be able to communicate with them & for them.
    32. 32. RECOMMENDED
    33. 33. QUESTIONS