Rocking the Ages: The Yankelovich Report on Generational Marketing

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  • Copyright: 2010-10-12
  • Publisher: Harpercollins

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Why We No Longer Care About What Comes Between Brooke And Her Calvins And Other Insights Into Marketing In The 1990s And BeyondFor almost forty years, Yankelovich Partners has helped America''s biggest companies understand and reach their customers. Their breakthrough MONITOR studies-annual surveys that analyze the values, beliefs, attitudes, and expectations that shape consumer decisions-not only pinpoint current trends, but predict where the market will be in the future.Rocking the Ages: The Yankelovich Report on Generational Marketing (HarperBusiness; May 21, 1997) by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman turns the spotlight on America''s generation gap and transforms what was born as a political and social rallying cry into a sound foundation for profitable marketing. Defining the essence of three generations-the Matures (born between 1909-1945), the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), and the Generation-Xers (1965-1978)-it explores in telling detail the experiences, life skills, values, personal and professional aspirations, likes and dislikes, and hopes and fears that distinguish each generation. Drawing on this unprecedented data, it elucidates how and why each generation reacts to a vast range of marketplace issues-including technology and cyberspace, healthcare and fitness, media and entertainment, retailing and financial services.From highlighting generational differences regarding such basic concepts as work itself-Matures regard it as an inevitable obligation, Boomers as an opportunity for self-fulfillment, and Xers as simply a paycheck-and gratification-delayed by Matures, demanded instantaneously by Boomers, virtual in the case of most Xers-to describing the widely differing versions of the American Dream each generation harbors, Rocking the Ages offers invaluable insights into how to market a product or service to reach one, two, or all three generations.The Matures triumphed over the Great Depression, vanquished facism, staunched communism, oversaw the building of the suburbs and shopping malls of middle-class America, and made TV a central part of their households-accomplishments they overwhelmingly attribute to hard work, self-sacrifice, financial discipline, and a respect for authority and institutions. In short, they earned material comforts and security the old-fashioned way and now, as they enjoy their retirement or finish out the best-paying years of their work lives, these values continue to guide their decisions. Reaching this group, the authors assert, entails stressing that they''ve earned the right to enjoy the fruits of their labor; offering of discounts and special benefits that appeal to their ingrained prudence and frugality; and designing campaigns that focus on brand-name loyalty and carry the endorsements of celebrities who embody the wisdom of experience.Born at a time of unprecedented prosperity and affluence, reared in permissive households, and comprising-at 78 million-the most populous generation ever, Boomers grew up thinking they were special. Rejecting the conformity and self-sacrifice of the previous generation, they challenged authority, championed the unconventional, and, most strikingly, focused on self-fulfillment-they didn''t just want jobs and families and ranch houses, they wanted enlightenment. While their enormous expectations-which drove the marketplace for many years-have been eroded by intractable social, economic, and political problems, the Boomers retain a strong sense of entitlement and self-worth. According to the MONITOR findings, this huge market will be loyal to companies that appeal to the rule-breaking and non-conformity that is the essence of the Boomer self-image; capitalize on the intense nostalgia this generation feels for its past (as Mercedes-Benz has done by using the music of Janis Joplin in its ads); play up the importance of family and family activity, which Boomers now regard as a way to express their personal creativity; offer financial services that help in extending income-earning years; and supply products-from clothing to food to cosmetics-that keep Boomers feeling like young, active winners.The young consumers of Generation X face economic and social obstacles unknown to the Boomers and that many regard as more formidable than those faced by the Matures. They are also the most sophisticated, savvy generation when it comes to evaluating the marketplace: the excesses and failures of the Boomers have taught them never to take anything for granted and that trade-offs are an integral part of life; the expansion of their worldview-through television (from MTV to CNN), the Internet, and other technologies-has opened their eyes to a wider diversity of options, behavior patterns, and lifestyles than that experienced by any previous generation. Their refusal to be reduced to a target market and the skepticism they bring to the marketplace demand approaches that reflect eclecticism and diversity in both medium and message, eliminate any hint of hard sell in favor of candor and unadorned information-lightened, Nike-style, with a touch of humor and attitude-and emphasize the pragmatism that is the hallmark of this group''s self-definition.The generational mix in the marketplace is greater now that it has ever been before-and all the generations are smarter, craftier shoppers than consumers of 20 or 30 years ago. Whether a company is interested in targeting their goods or services to a single generation, eager to cut across generational lines with universal appeals, or hoping to enjoy the best of both worlds by formulating strategies tailored to each specific group, Rocking the Ages provides them with the hard data and the creative know-how they need to succeed.

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