The generation code: Who are Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers?

‘Each generation is a fresh invasion of savages’ because each generation disrupts the way life was known to its predecessor, it is a harbinger of change. When we talk generation, concepts and words like The Millennials, the Gen X, the Gen Y, baby boomers and the Gen Z lead the conversation, they keep reoccurring. Branding and marketing as a practice heavily delve in these concepts, almost use them as a compass to understand humans and its audience. So who are these Millennials? Who are these baby boomers? What does I am from the Gen X and let us prepare for the Gen Z entail? The questions are basic and basics are important. Let us try and decipher the Generation code.

Before we move on to deciphering the Millennials and the Gen Z and the likes let us simply ponder over the word Generation. Yes! The words is common knowledge but at times revising and reviewing what we know helps put things in perspective.

What is a generation? It is a group of people born around and in the same time frame and raised in and around the same place. People in this ‘birth cohort’ display similar characteristics, preferences and values over their lifetime. Let us now box people by calling them a generation, let us view generation as a link, a crucial one, the one that provides clue on how to understand people, how to connect them and how to influence them.

What makes a generation consistent? Their era and their geography defines them, for instance Millennials are the most consistent generation globally. It is the trends of their times. Because they experienced a similar society, a similar trend at approximately the same time and that too through a similar channel (e.g. Radio, television or mobile), they display similar characteristics, a consistency in their communication, shopping and motivation and other such behaviours. And the three key trends that shape each and every generation are parenting, technology and economics. For instance baby-boomers possess the parenting philosophy – ‘We want life to be easier for our kids that it was for us’. This philosophy is one of the reasons we have Millennials’ who have a sense of entitlement.

Let us know the generations:

The traditionalists: Born between 1928 and 1945. This generation is characterized by and believes in ‘Honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work’. Loyalty is their element and they enjoy being respected for it. They value job-titles and money.

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, a generation referred to as a ‘Me’ generation. Currently they are predominantly in their 40s and 50s and are well-established in their careers. Baby boomers are the ambitious, loyal, work-centric and cynical generation. They prefer monetary rewards but also embrace nonmonetary rewards like flexible retirement planning and peer recognition. They don’t need constant affirmations and feedbacks, they believe ‘all is well unless one says otherwise’. They are extremely goal oriented. Their key motivators are big job-titles, high levels of responsibility, perks, praises and challenges.

Fact check – 70 million baby boomers will be retired by 2020, a great opportunity window for financial service providing brands. You can help them retire better.

Gen X – Born between 1965 and 1980. Smaller than their predecessors and successors in size but known and credited for being the generation that popularized the concept of work-life balance. The reason being, they have witnessed their hardworking parents toil and burnout. Members of this generation currently are in their late 30s and 40s and have spent considerable time alone as children. This has been one of the factors that has sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in them and thus they make up for the highest percentage of start-founders i.e. 55%.

And the ones not in business are consistent to the character, they prefer working independently with minimal supervision. They value opportunities that help them grow and also see great merit in having mentors.

Millennials also called the Gen Y– Born after the 1980, this generation currently is the most popular and the largest across the globe. They are in their 20s and early 30s. The fastest growing segment of today’s workforce. They are tech-savvy. One group of Millennials is reaching all the traditional markers of adulthood, just a few years later than previous generations. This group is entering their wealth accumulation life phase and commanding more power in the marketplace. The other group of Millennials, however, is not creating “real-world traction.” It is important to identify which group represents the ideal customer for your products, services, and solutions because each group has different purchasing criteria.

For some millennials the highest bidder of their skills, is the way to go they do not display the high levels of loyalty. They want to work in an environment where they can collaborate with others. Flexible schedules, time off, and embracing the latest technology to communicate are also important for Gen Y. In addition, Millennials exhibit different attitudes toward employment, sales, and marketing, which are challenging many conventional strategies and approaches.

Millennials also thrive when there’s structure, stability, continued learning opportunities, and immediate feedback. If you do offer monetary rewards, they prefer stock options.

Whether we work in Chile, Egypt, India, or elsewhere, Millennials are the most consistent group of all the generations. This is due to many factors, including inexpensive mobile technology.

Gen Z, iGen, Post-Millennials – The one tip-toeing right behind the millennials. The ones’ born in 1995 to 2015. This generation has been raised in an era of technology. Thus the boundaries of virtual and real are blurring for them. They are just beginning to enter the working-world. They are generation that do not think wifi on airplanes is new or different but rather always expected—and that is should be faster. They are also called the iGen because of the proliferation of mobile devices has defined the world for today’s kids and young adults. The i-everything generation is a possible name but hasn’t gained the traction of Gen Z in the media’s view. They also are called, Post-Millennials.

What differentiates them is that they are motivated with social-reward more so. They seek meaning in life. They are conscious and want to do more for the society.

Gen Z, Generation Z, iGen, or Centennials, this new group of people is making big waves in all the ways a generation possibly could—including parenting, education, employment, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, politics, religion, and more.


These peculiarities of each generation are a reflection of where we are heading as a society. They are maps to the minds of people. Understand each generation and embrace it with its flaws for every gap is a thread for another generation to pull. Watch this space for more interesting insights on Millennials and Gen Z and generation dynamics.

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