Millennials and Boomers. Two demographics separated by an ocean of time and the icebergs of Generation X. No way in this or any galaxy far away they could be similar.
Think again. Beyond the reality that both groups have a population nearing 77 million, they are oddly very similar. In fact, think hard again since Millennials and Boomers are two powerful consumer groups (as will be shown) whom deciphering could be a millennium boom for marketers.
As a company that manages both Millennial and Boomer panels for online research, we’ve noticed their similarities, and we are not alone.
Social Media and Technology
For starters, it’s no secret that Millennials are the sultans of social media. Yet qSample’s primary research reveals that Boomers are becoming extremely passionate about their Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. They may not dig Snapchat like Millennials, but more than 27 million Boomers possess a social media account (and other data claims that 65% of Boomers have a Facebook account). When it comes to smartphones, Millennials win this game, as approximately 85% own a mobile device (only 47% of Baby Boomers own a smartphone, but they’re catching up).
Someone who has extensively analyzed both Millennials and Boomers is Sara Bamossy, a strategic planning director for Saatchi & Saatchi LA. She explains, “Both generations value technology. Sure there’s been a delay in Boomers adapting, but they are.”
The difference, according to Bamossy, is that Boomers are more careful and less organic when it comes to technology, but in the end just as embracing.
Social Issues and Transformation
Where Millennials and Boomers truly connect is in their altruism. Yes, both generations are lambasted for being egotistical, hence the titles of the “Me” and “Selfie” generations. That’s more of a myth, though. Our research has shown that Baby Boomers are extremely socially-conscious. As an illustration, 89% of Baby Boomers want to improve energy dependence while 84% feel it’s important to use green energy. As we’ve also reported, Millennials are just as socially-conscious, to the point it deeply influences their buying decisions.
Here is more information on Boomers and green technology:
Beyond our data, here are some other similarities between Millennials and Boomers:
– Both are deeply informed by the opinions of their family and friends (unlike Gen Xers, who just don’t care).
– Both are loyal to the brands of their parents or family.
– Both tend to be frugal, enjoying the thrill of bargain hunting and showrooming.
As for politics and civics, Millennials and Boomers are somewhat different (beyond the fact that one demographic looks like Bernie Sanders while the other supports him). This chart from the National Conference of Citizenship offers their differences when it comes to civic engagement:
Why The Similarities?
One could draw parallels of Millennials and Boomers from the societal events in their respective times:
– Both grew up in strong economic times (the 50s for Boomers, early 2000s for Millennials).
– Both grew up during questionable wars and shadowy enemies (Vietnam War/Communism for Boomers, the Iraq War/Terrorism for Millennials).
– Both face seemingly corrupt governments and financial institutions (too many to mention here).
– Both, for some reason, possess nicknames that originate with the counterculture movement of underground Jazz and drugs, the beatnik worlds of Kerouac and Ginsberg (Hippy for Boomers and Hipster for Millennials). Yet both have a strong tendency to act more like Yuppies when it comes to careers.
These reasons are just speculation. In the end, this is subject for anthropologists and social scientists. When it comes to marketing research, what is most relevant is that both Millennials and Boomers are powerful consumer blocs. Boomers annually spend $3 trillion in the U.S. alone, while Millennials spend $600 million (but some estimates have them matching Boomers within the next decade). Both groups dominate 70% of disposable income.
Perhaps it would be wise for qualitative researchers to find out why Boomers and Millennials are similar in their spending habits. This would go a long way in streamlining marketing efforts, provide rich Venn Diagrams that could save budgets in advertising campaigns.
Hopefully, as the world caters to the dollars of Millennials and Boomers, someone will leave Gen Xers with some crumbs, like a few Nirvana albums or plaid shirts.
Download this infographic.