News & Insights


Why we should stop stereotyping generations by Amanda Taylor

As someone born in the late 70s, I have never really identified with either Generation X or Millennials.
Having grown up in the UK, I remember the Thatcher era, which brought with it private sector power, widening social inequalities and high unemployment, but at the time I was too young to become disillusioned with the establishment like Generation X.
Many of the big Gen X movements passed me by altogether. I was too busy watching the A-Team to notice the punk scene, though I did enjoy the later inventions of indie and house music.
I also don’t fit the description of a Millennial. While I know my way around an iPad and Facebook, I don’t consider myself a ‘digital native’ and a selfie stick would be a most unwelcome birthday gift.
Another day, another generation
Until recently, I had come to terms with feeling slightly at odds with both generations, until a professor from the University of Melbourne came up with the concept of a micro-generation called Xennials, born between 1977 and 1985.
Young Xennials played outdoors as kids, got giant mobile phones and Hotmail accounts in their adolescence, just about scraped onto the property ladder and, importantly, are neither depressed like Gen X or overly optimistic like Millennials.
While I was excited to finally have a label that fitted, the emergence of this new cohort also got me thinking. In the worlds of PR and marketing, we have become obsessed with labelling customers in a bid to ensure products and services ‘resonate with the target audience’. But the problem with these tags is they are often extremely backward-looking, analysing what people experienced in the past and not who they are now or what they plan to do in the future.
Not all Millennials switch jobs every year and have a staple diet of avocado and goji berries. In the same respect, not all Baby Boomers are technological luddites who want to cruise into the sunset with the takings from their multiple investment properties. Consumers today identify with ‘tribes’ rather than age groups and I suspect many of us find these generational stereotypes irritating.
The nuanced picture
In the PR and communications industries, we can play a key role in remedying this by helping businesses to produce age-neutral, inclusive communications, rather than excluding certain consumer groups from the outset.
Market research group Forrester1 conducted a survey of 30,000 adults across nine European countries and unveiled five segments it believes brands should consider when marketing goods and services.
It found the average age of early adopters or ‘progressive pioneers’ was 34, while highly engaged customers known as ‘savvy seekers’ had an average age of 38, suggesting that younger people are not always the most engaged or demanding when it comes to new products and technology.
So, if age is nothing but a number, how can businesses go about identifying their high-value customers?
Website behaviour is often a good starting point. Users who actively and consistently take action, for example by regularly reading online content or writing comments, should be recognised as brand advocates and rewarded. Analysing website data also provides an opportunity to create targeted communications, for example if a customer has abandoned a purchase or has a history of buying a certain type of product.
Social networks are also excellent sources of sales prospects and customer data. By allowing visitors to a website or app to verify their identities using their social network, businesses can access hundreds of data points to help them understand customers’ interests, behaviours and lifestyles and eliminate misleading biases.
So, let’s up our game and move beyond the recent trend for demographic stereotyping to create communications that treat consumers as the unique and complex humans we really are.
  1. Empowered Customer Segmentation, Forrester, 2016

Stay Connected

If you wish to stay connected to Honner and receive future blogs, simply enter your email address below.


Latest News And Insights

Honner Blog 11/10/2018

PR principles are evergreen

Over the past century, an infinite number of things have changed in the communications and #media industries. But public relations, argues our Account Manager Eric Robledo Fuentes, hasn’t changed that much after all. And no, he’s not 100 years old by the way. His thoughts are the result of his reading of Crystallizing Public Opinion, a book by Edward Bernays published in 1923. Read on to learn about a selection of seven principles that were first laid out by the person who came to be known as the father of #PR. 


Honner Blog 5/10/2018

Asset backed tokenization—a huge value unlock in the making

The process of tokenization will democratise investor access to illiquid markets and unlock a sea of untapped global capital. 


Honner Blog 27/09/2018

We need to talk about media literacy

While the financial services industry has been discussing Australians’ lack of financial literacy for years, a new national challenge has been called out—media literacy.  Honner senior consultant Suzanne Dwyer ponders what it means to be media literate in today’s world. 


Honner Blog 13/09/2018

A day in the life of a TV producer

Want to know what goes on behind the scenes of the TV screen? It’s the hard work of a dedicated crew member: the Producer. In our latest blog, read how Will Koulouris creates his magic on Sky News Business and what his average day looks like.


Honner Blog 5/09/2018

Why credible content is king again

The fake news backlash has begun. Read our latest blog on why this spells good news for the communications industry. 


View All    >