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Generation appeals should be tailored

Posted: June 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Dianne Van Hook, chancellor of College of the Canyons describes generational influences as she speaks at the VIA luncheon held at Valencia Country Club on Tuesday.

Speaking to members of the Valley Industry Association on Tuesday, the College of the Canyons Chancellor told the group that understanding generational differences is key to workplace, marketing and fundraising success.

Describing the last four generations – whom are all in today’s workplace or active in the marketplace – Chancellor Dianne Van Hook described the key traits of each group.

A society-wide peer group born over a 20-year period, the Traditionalist generation was born between 1925 and 1945.

In general, this group is loyal, respectful, dedicated, adheres to the rules, and values team playing and duty before pleasure. It’s not responsive to a lack of humility and doesn’t care for the “me generation,” she said.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are children of rock and roll, protests, civil rights and the women’s movement, riots, sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War.

This generation doesn’t like absolutes, it believes in possibilities, Van Hook said. The group is very competitive, strives for personal growth and values health and wellness.

“And they all think they’re still 21,” she said.

Generation X-ers, born between 1965 and 1980, experienced more stay at home dads and divorce, had to witness the AIDS epidemic, and were on hand for the information technology explosion.

The group mostly maintains positive attitudes but also tends to be flip, inpatient and considers itself to be proficient at multi-tasking.

One key trait of Generation X is that people in this group think globally. Having grown up during the boom of Silicon Valley, they are less interested in what career choices exist for them locally and more focused on what skills they can export, Van Hook said.

Lastly, Generation Y, born after 1981, this group is the brand-identify generation (“Got Milk”). It communicates differently, primarily through text messages and social media, and less often through face-to-face interactions.

The group is heavily influenced by group thinking, she said. And people in the group don’t like to be told they have “to pay their dues” in the workplace.

In most companies, there will be three to four generations in the workplace. Good communication, and knowing the values of each group, is key to working successfully with the groups.

Likewise, understanding the values and generational differences are crucial in marketing to each generation.

While Baby Boomers remain the most lucrative market to tap into, technology has changed the communication and marketing landscape dramatically.

Companies need to understand the demographics of each group and know how its product or service fits into that group.

“But the positive impact of technology is that it has transformed a really big world into a small village,” Van Hook said.


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