Brands must learn to separate generational gap myths from realities

New Ideas in MarketingEssential news for marketers, summarised by YouGov
September 23, 2021, 5:10 PM UTC

While Gen Zs are often made out to be obsessed with “brand purpose” and “climate change”, it is older people that are more likely to boycott brands.

Brands are generalising their approach to generation gaps while ignoring the subtle differences. But, diving deep and investing in better analysis can help separate the generation myths from realities and create more effective campaigns.

An Ipsos Mori’s latest study found that while Gen Zs are often thought to be obsessed about the brand purpose and climate change, the older generations are more likely to act on that. Older people are more likely to see climate change as a critical issue, while younger people are concerned about more immediate problems like housing and low incomes.

To predict the future more meaningfully, brands need to separate three effects that explain changes among consumers. First – patterns that are simple lifecycle effects like changes that come with age. Second–period effects like impact caused by events such as a pandemic. Finally, cohort effects create the difference between one new generation and others at the same age.

Marketers should also keep in mind that real shifts like the acceptability of LGBT rights are likely to stay. But, other apparent trends like declining homeownership or the popularity of car ownership might be more momentary. So, brands need to pay more attention to these changes than overemphasising generational differences.

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