Occupy Protests Show Differences Between Gen X and Gen Y
While the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t claim to be a youth movement, you’ve probably seen the youthful faces on the news declaring themselves as part of the 99 percent. Lack of employment opportunities and concern about student loans have spurred many of Generation Y, or Millenials as they are often called, to embrace the Occupy protests. Generation Y was born between 1980 and 1995, and is known for its love of diversity, teamwork, and philanthropy.
A recent article from the Associated Press highlights how many of Generation X are reacting with confusion and rivalry at Generation Y’s involvement in the Occupy movement. Generation X was born between 1965 and 1979. They were the first real children of divorce and daycare, are individulalists and self-reliant, and are known for their skepticism of authority.
So why isn’t the Occupy movement something that both generations embrace?
Generation X also came of age during the recessions of the early 80s and 90s. Rather than stage protests, Gen X’ers just weathered the economic storm and benefited from growth later is those decades. As a result, many X’ers see the Occupy movement as a continuation of Generation Y’s sense of entitlement and whining.
But that’s not to say that all Gen X’ers feel that way about the Occupy movement. After all, many of them are still paying on their student loans decades after they graduated college. One survey of an Occupy protest in October found the median age of protesters was 28, so you can rest assured there’s some 30 and 40 somethings waving their Occupy protest signs. At the same time, there are many twenty-somethings who have nothing but disdain for the Occupy Wall Street protests.
So what does this mean for generational marketing?
While a generation may have a generalized outlook and philosophy, there’s still a danger in automatically lumping all people of a certain age together. It’s fine to let the generational trends begin to define a group, but do your homework. There are other factors, such as geography and political leanings that may have more of an impact than the year a group was born.
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