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Centennials, Millennials & Generational Marketing

Published Date : Sep 7, 2017

“Generational marketing” is not a new concept. It started with the “Pre-Depression Generation” (those born 1930 to 1945). Then there was the “Depression Generation”, “Baby-Boomers” and so on.      

While it’s true that every generation has unique traits affected by the social, economic and political environment of their youth, it is folly to typecast consumers into boxes as large as entire generations. Yet, the majority of marketers have succumbed to these generalisations, especially so in the recent past.

In days gone by, marketers researched relentlessly to break down audiences into demographical and psychographic profiles. They honed in on consumer insights for every product before hitting the drawing-board to create advertising that would induce desired action. The method was brilliant, and it worked. With the millennial generation, marketers took the generalisations too far.

“Millennials” or “Gen Y”, being the first generation to grow up with technology as we know it today, came to be looked upon “defined by technology”. They have notoriously been called “irresponsible, impatient, indifferent, self-centred, impolite”. On the positive side they have been described as “social, open-minded, innovative, lively, go-getting, motivated, confident and bright”. The problem is that anyone who is not extroverted, hyper-connected or fits in with these descriptors has been largely ignored. The good news is there’s time to make amends – the millennial generation will be driving purchases for a long time to come.

While there’s never really been a consensus for the exact time-period qualifying one as a “millennial”, what we do know is there is now a new and younger generation being talked about, and that is “the Centennials”!

While committing to abstain from creating erroneous generalisations with the new generation, let’s try to understand some overall traits of Centennials, and how they are purported to differ from Millennials or previous generations.

Centennials, born around 1994-2010, have never known a world where there was no social media, smart phones, flat-screen T.V.s, play stations and the like. In that sense, they didn’t experience the sudden exposure to technology the way Millennials did. It seems as if Millennials were almost doomed to be defined by technology, whereas for Centennials, technology is merely a “means to an end”.  

The following are professed to be the most common traits of Centennials:    

  • For Centennials, technology is not as much a consumer good as a practical tool that facilitates access to communication, exchange, education and entertainment. 
  • Research by The Futures Company kegs Centennials as more of “savers” rather than “spenders” because they experienced the depression of 2007-2009.
  • They are hard-workers, who are worried about their future.
  • Most centennials would not be comfortable meeting someone in person who they have only known before from online.
  • The generation is more liberal and less judgemental since in their lifetime, diversity within society and lifestyles have increased.
  • They show more humanitarianism and political activism and support causes through online petitions.
  • Centennials hold high ethical standards.

Although these may serve as guidelines, we must remember that generational labels like Gen X, Millennials (Gen Y), Centennials (Gen Z) are just that – labels. Attitudes, consumer behaviour, etc, must be studied in an endeavour towards further market segmentation for every product. Just watch a reality show like ‘Got Talent’, and you’ll be able to tell there’s no dearth of daring, dancing Grannies or Centennials that sing opera! Moreover, even online, hangouts vary considerably for different groups of people with different interests, so, the basic principles of traditional media planning for advertising messages remain – Research where consumers are hanging out. In fact, if there’s one marketing constant over the ages, it’s CONSUMER RESEARCH!

- By GemAtlas Team