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Damn the Quasars!

June 25, 2012

– By Henry Gómez | Director of Strategic Insights –

*This article was first published on HispanicAd.com*

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Iconosphere 2012 in Miami Beach a couple of weeks ago. Among the interesting breakout sessions was one entitled: Generational Quasars: Exploring the Boomer-Millennial Hot Spot. I was intrigued because one of our clients is doing a lot of exploration into Millennials. As it relates to Alma’s field of expertise, the Hispanic market, I think the topic is very complex because Hispanic Millennials are extremely heterogeneous but that’s not what piqued my interest about the breakout session.

The premise was that there is a marketing hot spot within these two generations, boomers mainly being the parents of Millennials. The speakers, Iconoculture’s Corinne Asturias and Nancy Robinson explained that, when combined, Baby Boomers and Millenials number more than 150 million in the US. Furthermore they explained a series of shared values between the two generations that marketers could potentially exploit.

What really struck me however, was what wasn’t mentioned during the presentation: the role of Gen Xers, those 54 million Americans sandwiched between their much-ballyhooed predecessors and their equally ballyhooed successors.  Maybe it’s because I was born right smack in the middle of Generation X (1969) but I felt slightly left out, and then my feelings morphed into (I’ll admit it) resentment. To add insult to injury, before the presentation even began the speakers asked the audience to raise their hands if they were Boomers, then Xers and then Millenials.  It looked like 2/3 of the audience were Xers like me.

So here we are, Generation X, in the prime of our careers and our lives as consumers and it’s our job to cater to the tastes of Boomers and Millennials.  The former won’t leave the stage and the latter are screaming, “look at me” (well, actually they are tweeting it).

I have to say that my feelings were validated when I recently saw the viral video of David McCullough Jr.’s commencement address to the graduates of Wellesley High School in Massachusetts:

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

 Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.

 Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about!

Seriously, I wonder if marketers, in their desire to detect the next big thing, have neglected the thing that’s right under their noses. If there’s a common bond of values between Boomers and Millennials then it stands to reason that Xers have some different values.  And as I said, there’s 54 million Xers out there that aren’t living in their parents’ garage or sheltering their children in the garage.  Xers are the here and now.

At the end of his speech McCullough concludes:

The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.

Just one question: does “everyone include Xers like me?”

Henry –

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