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Generation Marketing: Stop Stereotyping Please

There’s nothing simple about this but the gist is that we need to stop putting generations into boxes.

Having spent the last five years studying inter-generational gaps across markets, it’s interesting to see how each generation interprets today’s contemporary marketing playbook, in such different ways.  

Taking centre-stage is an entire chunk of our population that we simplistically refer to as Gen-Y (Millennials) plus Gen-Z (Alpha-Gen) who are catching up rapidly demographics-wise & will outnumber others within in a workforce context very soon.

All of this obviously has a pronounced impact on marketing trend & industry not just here in Malaysia but globally. Although the reality is that we still have four different generations rubbing shoulders at the workplace today; Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y (Millennials), and Gen-Z (Alpha-Gen).

What I often find far too reductive though is a general perception (or misconception) between the different generations when compared. There’s nothing simple about this but the gist is that we need to stop putting generations into boxes. We need to stop basing our biases of these labels. All it does is create stereotypes that skewer perception, management, & mindsets.

An example is the infamous ‘Baby Boomers’ versus ‘Millennials’ narrative around how digitally-savvy or future-fluent the younger generations are in comparison to the older ones. Even though I myself am a Millennial, this urban myth bothers me. Simply because it’s superficial & unsubstantiated.

I know a number of industry-prominent baby boomers delivering insightful, innovative marketing angles which make a ton of sense because of their depth in terms of experience. Progress was never about abandoning the old & obsessing over the new for the sake of being recent.

What we all need to acknowledge is that “youth” may rule the movies and magazine racks — but Boomers still rule the country, statistically speaking. This is why we can’t simply assume anything anymore.

Is a 28-year old automatically deemed tech-savvy or a 19-year old undoubtedly a digital native? Define “digital native” for me? I’ve personally interacted with hundreds of young adults in college who are merely inches away from the job market yet they spend most of their time on Instagram as opposed to establishing their voice & presence on more relevant platforms like LinkedIn to secure that job or internship. Can we then collectively label them the digital natives? Are they?

This is why we should never underestimate anyone – regardless of their age – when it comes to marketing or tech. We just don’t live in that world anymore. Things have stopped changing gradually. Change today happens exponentially.

Intergenerationally speaking, my hypotheses is that we do away with the labels. We’re all one. We’re Generation C. We’re Generation Connected.

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Dr A.J Minai
Written By

Dr A.J Minai is a Chief Marketing Officer of Subture. He has spoken at over 170 events since 2013 and being listed as one of the Top 43 Inspirational LinkedIn Icons to follow in Malaysia by Marketing In Asia magazine in 2018. Follow him on LinkedIn and website.

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