Generation WHO? Understanding the trends of each gen

18 Apr 2019

Generation WHO? Understanding the trends of each gen

18 Apr 2019

“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation”
Simon Sinek, Author of Start With Why

You’ve likely heard of Millennials or the Gen-Z, but are you totally sure who or what they are? If you were to say they are a generation of people, then yes you’d be absolutely right. But it goes a little further than that. A generation of denotes people born within a very specific period of time. Our current generations are:

Baby Boomers: People born from 1944-1964. Currently 55-75 years old.
Generation X (aka Gen-X): People born from 1965-1979. Currently 40-54 years old. Also known as the “MTV generation.”
Generation Y (aka Millennials): People born from 1980-1994. Currently 25-39 years old. Also known as the “avocado toast” generation.
Generation Z (aka Gen-Z): The newest generation, and the generation after Millennials. People born from 1995-2015. Currently 4-24 years old.

As each generation represents a specific period, it makes sense that particular traits and influences can be attributed to each one. Understanding them can help you identify key things such as motivations, ethics and adaptability (in a tech-led world).

Baby Boomers

Harry Wallop, Feature Writer for The Telegraph: “Those born in the years after World War II, when there was…a significant spike in births, both in America and in Britain. These are the men and women who tuned in, got high, dropped out, dodged the draft, swung in the Sixties and became hippies in the Seventies…Idealistic and uncynical, this was the generation that fought the cold war and smashed down the Berlin Wall.”

Baby Boomers:

  • Live to work
  • Self-worth = work ethic
  • Loyal to employer
  • Competitive
  • Goal-centric
  • Process oriented
  • Focused
  • Disciplined
  • Enjoy working in teams and proving themselves to the team
  • Need to know that they are valued
  • Want to make a difference

Many Baby Boomers around today will be grandparents or even great-grandparents. We are seeing a huge trend for the older generation to sign up and use Facebook (popularly dubbed the ‘Silver Surfers’).

Gen X

Patrick Neate, Author: “I’ve always been quite happy to describe myself as Gen X…it’s always conjured a certain slacker cool. We won’t be tied down to the corporate buck. We’re nihilists but with a sense of humour. We don’t measure success in the world’s terms. Sure, we drink Starbucks, but we do so…ironically. In fact, we do everything ironically – we’re ironic atheists, latchkey kids, serial monogamists and so forth”

Gen Xers:

  • Work to live
  • Crave independence
  • Scepticism
  • Focused on results
  • Think Globally
  • Adapt to change
  • Eager to learn
  • Thrive on flexibility
  • Education is a necessary means to succeed

Gen Xers will form your older parent base. For schools, this can be a great help as many will have already had children put through education. Gen Xers are often referred to as cynical and value loyalty. Appeal to their desire to achieve.

Millennials (Gen Y)

Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research: “Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviours and experiences than their parents. They have been slower to marry and move out on their own…They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop…Finally, they are dedicated to wellness, devoting time and money to exercising and eating right.”


  • Fully transparent, shares everything
  • Do well with detailed instructions
  • Desire to make an impact
  • Commerce & conscience together
  • Value Diversity
  • Love technology
  • Education is a highly expensive necessity
  • Do not perform at their best in a traditional work environment
  • Find solutions using technology

Millennials are the Yahoo, mobile phones, Google, Facebook, iPhone generation. With the first real taste of open information at their fingertips, Millennials can be strong-willed.

Gen Z (Centennials)

Lucie Greene, Director of the Innovation Group: “In an era of fake news…[Gen Z is] also more likely to be able to push through the noise…Not only are they able to consume more information than any group before, but they have also become accustomed to cutting through it. They are perhaps the most brand-critical, the questioning group around and will call out any behaviour they dislike on social media. (Little wonder brands are quaking in their boots.)”


  • Tech-innate (the first generation to grow up with modern technology)
  • Accepting of others
  • Make things
  • Realists
  • Individualistic
  • Competitive
  • Transparent
  • The entrepreneurial and inventive spirit
  • Concerned about the cost of education

The true digital natives of our time, Gen Z will not know a world without social media, without mobile phones and computers. Technology has always been there and Centennials will have integrated it seamlessly into their lives.

Breaking down the different generations in this way is by no means an exact science. We cannot simply state that a 23-year old and a 47-year old are so different that they will not be able to coexist together. However, by grasping the values that each generation can be said to cherish can help.

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