Communicating in the New Millenium

As the world spins faster and faster into the digital age, companies need to know that they are communicating with two distinctly different consumers and workers. Baby Boomers and Millennials find themselves trapped in a lockdown of miscommunication. They may speak the same language but a translator is needed to bridge the gap of understanding. This is especially critical in marketing to these consumers and in hiring boomers and millennials. Businesses must approach each group with the care and uniqueness that sets them apart.

Baby Boomers

Born approximately between the years 1946-1964, these 52-70 year olds came into the world during a time of conflict. World War II was barely in the rear view mirror and many of their parents, those of our Greatest Generation, fought in that war, so it was never far from conversation. The Vietnam War trailed closely behind, while the Civil Rights Movement dominated the news. These Boomers experienced social changes in women’s rights, birth control, and abortion.

This is a generation that:

  • Is patient and not at all entitled – They saw their parents work for all they got, and they had those same expectations instilled into
  • Had a voice – This is the generation of marchers/protesters and flower children. They saw great conflicts in their lifetimes, and the pump was primed for them to jump in and lend a voice and a hand.
  • Are collaborative workers – They learned that when you join forces through their marches and protests there is strength in numbers and that belief followed them into the workforce.
  • Put themselves last – this generation was far from coddled as their parents were busy re-establishing their families, getting educations and making a new life for themselves.
  • Experienced death differently and less ‘intimately’ than generations past –During this time period, aging in America became a business. While the process to establish homes for the elderly began in the mid-50’s it was really in the 60’s – 70’s that this business model burgeoned and started to make it an appealing option for great numbers of our older population.
  • Are fiscally aware but not necessarily prepared – this generation saw great growth in the economy and, for some time, tremendous strength in a growing middle class. The problem is, if they didn’t, or weren’t able to prepare accordingly for a rainy day, this generation also saw the dramatic shrinking of that very middle class with the passing years.

Millennials

Born approximately between the years of 1982-2004, Millennials are between the ages of 12-34 years. There is a great discrepancy on the range for Millennials; for the sake of defining the borders of the generation we’ll ascribe to the categorization as set by Strauss and Howe. They were born during a time of connectivity. The internet was growing…exponentially. The Berlin Wall came down, unifying Germany and offering hope to the world.

This generation of Americans is technologically versed and fragmented. This is truly the MTV Generation; they have never known a world without music on TV.
The internet was accessible – AOL (1985) and email became a part of their world. Many were never aware of a ‘before the internet’ timeframe. News came predominately from TV and the Web, with newspapers taking a back seat.

  • This is a generation that is:
    Connected – Millennials are always connected to others, and by various devices. “Smart” devices (phones, watches, cars, appliances, etc.) are responsive—or work across platforms or other devices at once— and support the use of multiple use as they thirst for a connection to the world.
  • Multi-taskers– Due to the multitude of devices at their disposal along with managing their ‘off-line’ existence, they’ve become amazingly adept multi-taskers.
  • Involved and wanting to give feedback – This generation relies heavily on others who came before. They tend to create a type of a trickle down effect, exhibiting more willingness to give feedback to those who may follow.
  • Community oriented and ones who wish to effect change – As stated above, Millennials have a level of self-confidence not seen in past generations and, along with that, a belief that they truly can change things. Consequently, there is often a willingness to try to find opportunities to succeed in niche ways (entrepreneurial) not seen.
  • Comfortable with self-expression – Again their level of self-confidence leads to their ability and willingness to express themselves how they see fit —whether they choose body adornments such as tattoos or piercings, or freer expressions of themselves This freedom extends to other behaviors and groups as well and affords them a higher level of acceptance for people of other faiths, ethnicities and race.

If you still aren’t sure how to cross the generational divide, the magazine Gold Digest offers some more specific advice on how to play golf with a boomer versus a millennial.