Reaching Generation X Boomers Try to Link with New Upstarts

By Nancy Ryan 1993, Chicago Tribune | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 14, 1993 | Go to article overview

Reaching Generation X Boomers Try to Link with New Upstarts


Nancy Ryan 1993, Chicago Tribune, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


It's a story as old as humanity. A once-rebellious generation of upstarts - in this case the Baby Boomers, a group that prides itself on having challenged the Establishment in its youth and changed America forever - has grown up and taken charge.

Like their parents before them, though, they have a problem: They aren't as close to the next generation as they yearn to be. They feel ignored, irrelevant.

So the Boomers want to build a bridge to their successors, the members of "Generation X," a label coined by Douglas Coupland in his book of the same name. But the motives for them to build that bridge have far less to do with the great issues of the day than was the case when their own parents were trying to understand why no one younger than 30 trusted them.

For proof, look at today's advertising. The stakes involve money, lots of it. The goal is to make and buy and sell, in lots of ways. The target is Generation X, a generation of kids bombarded with media images and hype almost from the day they were born.

"We (Boomers who are marketing to Xers) have to stop embarrassing ourselves," said Elissa Moses, senior vice president and director of strategic planning at the ad agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Inc. "And we have to stop missing opportunities."

The new generation comprises a market of 46 million Americans born between 1964 and 1975 who, despite their youth and today's grim job market, have more spare change than previously assumed. It's the country's second-largest generation after the Boomers - with roughly $125 billion in discretionary income, according to Roper Marketing and Public Opinion Research.

What Boomers should blush over, according to Moses, are the many misguided marketing campaigns devised to reach Xers. That happens because Boomers, despite knowing what makes Xers different, can't seem to reach them.

"It's easy to make mistakes," said Moses. "People who have studied this generation are startled by the realization of just how difficult a world they've come of age in, from the economy, to crime, to the job market, to the onset of AIDS.

"As marketers, we tend to always assume that the best way to relate to and motivate our target is to show empathy."

***** `Bumming Out'

In this case, however, attempts at showing that marketers are "in touch" and aware of the obstacles Xers are up against have translated into ads that are too cold, too removed or too stylized.

A classic example of that was Benetton's recent magazine ad campaign showing a dying AIDS patient, a boat filled with Haitian refugees and other images of late 20th Century calamities. "It's not the kind of material that makes someone want to run out and buy a sweater," Moses said.

"Bumming out" a generation that's all too aware of the grim news at home and abroad apparently isn't the best way to win their hearts and minds, or at least their brand loyalty. So what does work?

As with anything in marketing - a combination of science, art and dumb luck - a surefire way has hardly been agreed upon. One problem is there are more perils than benefits in trying to pigeonhole a demographic group, particularly one defined solely by age.

But the fact that today's twentysomethings grew up during the rise of divorce and AIDS, the lack of political heroes and the decline in the economy - in contrast to the Boomers' relatively prosperous formative years - requires some attention, marketers say.

And the best way to do that is with some basic research, said Gregory Dickson, marketing director or U Magazine, a nationwide insert for college newspapers. But what keeps marketers from more effectively tapping into it is that "we overgeneralize," he told a recent conference in Chicago on marketing to Generation X.

Dickson and his staff have learned ways to avoid those pitfalls by, for instance, regularly visiting college campuses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reaching Generation X Boomers Try to Link with New Upstarts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.