Gen Y, Who Are You?

May 15, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

According to a column on, marketers may know less about Generation Y than they think.

The author, Dr. Pete Markiewicz, writes, “Today, Gen-Y continues to be characterized by many as a sort of super-sized Gen-X — larger in number and more diverse, individualistic, pierced, skateboarding and in-your-face than Gen-X. Marketers aiming at Gen-Y frequently assume they respond to brands with hip, edgy statements that cut through media clutter and push the boundaries of style and taste. Growing up with no memory of the economic malaise of the 1970s, Gen-Y is a marketer’s dream — they’ll buy simply because it is cool to do so.”

Dr. Carolyn Martin of Rainmaker Thinking says the reality is quite a bit different. Gen-Yers are more Beaver Cleaver than Johnny Rotten.

Some of Generation Y’s surprises, according to Dr. Martin, include the group’s members being more:

  • Family oriented

    “According to Gallup more than 90 percent of teens report being very close to their parents; in 1974, more than 40 percent of baby boomers said they’d be better off without their parents.”

  • Altruistic

    “A University of California (UCLA) survey of college freshmen from fall 2001 showed an all-time high of 86.2 percent of students who reportedly engaged in volunteer work, compared to 66 percent in 1989.”

  • Religious.

    Sixty-seven percent of teens support federal aid to religious organizations compared to 40 percent for those between 27 and 59.

Moderator’s Comment: Have the generational tags put
on consumer groups become obsolete?

Reading Dr. Markiewicz’s piece we were struck by the lack
of agreement by experts on which age group actually represented Generation Y.
Anderson – Moderator

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