Saturday, October 01, 2005

Segmenting the American Market

I've been doing some basic reading on the various age segmentations of the American population to see where new thoughts challenge my pre-existing notions.

Here's a capsule of observations that can serve as a refresher course for segmentation:

G. I. GENERATION (Born 1901-1926 / Current age: 78+) The most revered generation on the planet. The most fascinating generation on the planet. Their Depression was The Great One; their war was The Big One; their prosperity was the legendary Happy Days. They saved the world and then built a nation. They are the assertive and energetic do'ers. Excellent team players. Community-minded. strong fixation on personal health. Many have lost a spouse in recent years. Brokaw's book was aptly named: The Greatest Generation.

HOPEFULS (Born 1927-1945 / Current age: 60 to 77). Came of age deferring to the more assertive G. I. Generation. Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar Happy Days: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock 'n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine! The First Hopeful Drumbeats Of Civil Rights! Its pre-feminism women have wondered "what if...?". Its Organization Men pledged loyalty to the corporation. The richest, most free-spending retirees in history. Under-appreciated and overlooked. Increasing concern over personal health.

BOOMERS (Born 1946-1964 / Current age: 40 to 60). Two sub-sets: the save-the-world revolutionaries of the '60s and '70s who provided the passion and masses to the dizzying 6 cultural revolutions of the Consciousness Movement; and, the party-hardy career climbers of the '70s/'80s. Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly. The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ENDING with them. Their activism is beginning to re-emerge as they have more time to ponder social issues.

LATCH KEY KIDS(Born 1965-1981 / Current age: 23 to 39). Grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Entrepreneurial. Very individualistic. Government and big business mean little to them. Eager to make marriage work and "be there" for their children. Want to save the neighborhood, not the world. Feel misunderstood by other generations. Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years. Don't "feel" like a generation, but they ARE one.

GEN X, Y and Z(Born: 1982-Present / Current age: Birth to 22). America's next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X. Today's youth are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused. Respect for authority. Cooperative team players. Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But still with problems. They schedule everything. They feel enormous academic pressure. AKA "The 9/11 Generation". They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves


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