- Silent Generation: 1925-1945. Those who grew up during the Great Depression know what it’s like to worry about money. Parents of this generation had to make the most out of every piece of clothing, food, and any other purchase or handmade piece. Retail was born from this era. Premium brands surfaced during this time, and people understood that premium = best. People scrimped and saved to afford luxury purchases. The brands themselves had to convince thrifty customers to buy their products. This generation came to understand that more money equaled better value and quality.
- Baby Boomers: 1946-1964. This generation has worked hard their whole lives and is taking longer to retire. Their parents came from nothing, so Baby Boomers strive to have more than their parents. They also invented “Keeping up with the Joneses.” This generation truly identifies good, better, and best, and is most interested in the best.
- Generation X: 1965 – 1979. This generation has been exposed to marketing since it was born, and it has an extremely opposite view of buying from Baby Boomers. When watching commercials, this generation focuses more on deconstructing marketing techniques than on the product. Experiences rank higher in value than tangible goods. These folks don’t trust claims about goods or services and in fact avoid premium brands. What captures the hearts and loyalty of this group are price promotions, not brands.
- Generation Y/Millenials: 1980 – 2000. The idea of good, better, and best has fallen away with this generation. Nike isn’t “the best” brand of shoes – it’s just shoes. They aren’t choosing premium coffee, they just get coffee from Caribou. Furthermore, impersonal – or even poor – service isn’t an issue. This generation finds store brands to be of excellent quality, and they buy it for the price. Some even look down on premium brands because they see them as marked-up items of equal quality to less expensive options.
There is no question that each new generation operates from a different mindset than all others. Economy, environment, and expectation all play roles in how we operate in the world. When it comes to retail, this generation gap is actually stifling premium brand sales. There is a disconnect between the salesperson’s and customer’s approach to buying, and it creates a lot of missed opportunities. To understand this, let’s look at a brief description of the generations in question: