Generational Stereotyping Is Stupid

Demographic changes certainly create opportunities. But, it is short sighted to think one size fits all or that all members of a generation think the same way.

The new media game is generational stereotyping. It started with the Great Generation, those who lived through the Depression, World War II, and the Great Economic Boom of the Post-war period, moved on to the Baby Boomers, the Echo Boomers, the Millennials, and now Gen Z. Every article starts with the mandatory "7 Things you Need to Know about Generation __."

If you listen to these folks, every generation is responsible for shaping the future of our civil society, how we work and play, and how we live. They posit that each lives in its own generational cocoon, isolated from each other by ear buds. They all are supposed to have unique and idiosyncratic opinions about the size of the houses they want (tiny or micro versus McMansions), the number of hours they want to work (work-life balance versus live to work), and what's important (experience versus stuff, time versus money).

Stereotyping generations is stupid for the same reasons any stereotyping is stupid. Yes, there are trends that may or may not have to do with generational attitudes as much as the inevitable march of time, innovation, geopolitical drivers, and societal progress and challenges.

Demographic changes certainly create opportunities. But, it is short sighted to think one size fits all or they all think the same, any more than saying that all surgeons are cold fishes with no bedside manner or all Hispanics think the same.

People are people and their wants and needs have stayed pretty much the same since marketeers have been measuring them. My suggestion for innovators is that they be more lumpers than splitters, targeting specific sub-segments across generations and stop trying to label everyone. Think horizontally, not vertically. You might be surprised to find out that the micro-house you are building in an innovation district sells to empty nester Baby Boomers as well as Gen Xers.

You will find unexpected surprises that are a great source of opportunity and open a bigger addressable market.