I was recently at a happy hour with some clients, and somehow the topic of pizza came up, which led to â€śisnâ€™t it ok to have a little food on our timeâ€¦it is our time, yours and everyone elseâ€™sâ€ť which led to Jeff Spicoli. As one of the most senior (in terms of job title and age) people in the room, I was delighted to hear that name again.Â But my enthusiasm soon faded as I noticed the blank stares around me. Mr. Hand? Vans? Phoebe Cates on the diving board (well known to every Gen X male)?Â And this once again reminded me of the differences we in the world of marketing face: Boomers and Generation Xers creating product, marketing and ideas for Gen Y (also known as Millennials and a host of other creative names).
A more relevant story. Doing some focus groups with a bank client, the entire team was in awe as to how many of their consumers still like to use the phone. They couldnâ€™t possibly understand how anyone would prefer the â€śold-schoolness â€ś of the phone to the â€śnew schoolnessâ€ť of the computer.Â Which led the most junior person (25 years old, a Millennial in her prime!) in the room to say: â€śGuys, the computer is on its way out. Itâ€™s all about the phone againâ€ť.
Itâ€™s not that we as Boomers or Xers arenâ€™t aware of the mobile revolution, itâ€™s just that our frame of context is different.
Millennials are a huge audience, and cannot be ignored.Â And generational differences are real. (Ask any company who employs a large number of Millennials â€“ theyâ€™ll have a lot to say about it).
Advice for all of us Boomers and Xers: be sure get to know the generic â€śsoundbitesâ€ť around this audience (â€śthey are entitled,â€ť â€śthey are the CTO of the householdâ€ť) but then really get to know them by looking at the world from their point-of-view, from their world context.Â Spend time with them outside of 6 focus groups, away from your home environment, beyond the latest Mintel report or episodes of Jersey Shore.Â Itâ€™ll be surprising and inspiring to see the world through their lens.
And ps.Â As an Xer, it really hurts that everyone knows Snooki, but not Spicoli.
Sara Schor, EVP, Strategy