SSI: Generational Differences More Insightful Than Cultural Ones

9 Dec

As marketers, we are always looking at better ways to understand our customers and potential customers. We spend a lot of time studying consumer lifestyles and cultures.

With the preceding in mind, let’s consider these observations by Pete Cape (director, global knowledge in the London office of research firm SSI), as reported by Quirk’s Marketing Research Media:

“What’s the woman in this photo doing? If you think she’s dialing a phone number, perhaps you’re a Boomer (and you probably know how to work a rotary phone!). If you said she’s texting, you’re probably from Generation X. If you think she’s uploading a selfie to Instagram, you may be a Millennial – and if you imagine she’s adjusting her home-heating temperature as she leaves the office, you’re perhaps part of the generation to come.”

“The finding from SSI’s recent study of digital citizens in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, and Japan is that differences are more likely to be generational than cultural. Some of these generational differences are large – and also more subtle than stereotypes might suggest. Boomers use smartphones; Gen X still love CDs; Millennials still have PCs. Each generation simply uses this technology at different times and in different quantities.”

“It’s useful to think of Boomers as digital immigrants who had to learn new technologies from scratch because the technologies didn’t exist while they were growing up; Gen X as digital pioneers, who grew up learning to use these technologies; and Millennials as digital natives who didn’t have to learn anything at all – this technology was always just part of their lives.”


12 Responses to “SSI: Generational Differences More Insightful Than Cultural Ones”

  1. Andy Zheng December 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    In terms of consumer behavior, it is definitely smart to study from the different generations than their cultural differences. Culture could be passed down one generation to the next. But the lifestyle and consumer habits does not get passed as efficiently since things are constantly changing. Things such as the way we communicate, photo sharing methods, education, and the convenience of everything. Companies that does a nice job to adapt to the new generations will thrive. Nike does this by hopping on instagram and utilizing social marketing strategies to attract the generation that’s always connected to the internet.

  2. John Elarde December 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    I feel it is important to examine the generational differences between customers. With technology and cell phones taking over, most would think it is important to only advertise via email and social media. Marketers need to keep in mind that there is still a large older generation that does not heavily associate with technology. If company’s only advertise on technology they could me missing out on a specific crowd. This is why its important to analyze the changing market. Looking at the picture of the girl on her phone helps do this. It makes it easy to distinguish between the different generations. Eventually the only generations around will have lived there whole lives with technology so it will become easier for marketers.

  3. Laura D December 10, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    I find this article very interesting in how it says consumers are distinguished among generations rather than cultures. This makes sense because with all the innovations in technology, consumers are better connected on a global basis. This makes difference in culture less important, and generations more important because depending on how old you are determines how you use new technology.

  4. Ryan Maher December 11, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    It is indeed very wise for firms to study consumer behavior like this, especially in the field of technology. As the article mentioned, it is particularly difficult for boomers to keep up with the ever changing field of technology, and it’s definitely a useful marketing ploy if firms attempt to make their products more user friendly to those people.

  5. Kenneth Hanlon December 11, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    Constant adaptation of marketing is necessary in order to be relevant in the future. Always thinking one step ahead of the competition is what these companies strive to do. Therefore it makes sense that they associate their advertisements with the present. Unless it’s a specified product that pertains to people of an older generation, marketing should be done in the present to appeal to the most amount of consumers.

  6. Xavier Alvarez December 11, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    In a rapidly advancing world, it seems more and more important to study the differences between generations rather that just cultures. Each generation is slightly different in their values and behaviors. It is important to monitor these differences so companies can appeal to different as many markets and consumers as possible.

  7. Jing Liu December 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I believe this article provided us with a very different look into our consumers. We are always talking about the cultures difference is forming different behaviors. Clearly, culture difference always has the priority when we study human behavior, which include consumer behavior. Now there is another dimension takes over and become to play a big role. It will largely renovate our data analysis and insights. Also, in advance, we could image the interaction between culture difference and generation difference, it could be a mediator or moderator to impact our consumer behaviors. It will turn out to be a hot research topic in the near future.

  8. Jordan Rosenwein December 13, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Marketers are always finding new ways to appeal to the consumer. I know that my dad hates adapting to the newer technology. For example, he hates the new smartphone for the most part because of the complexity. He uses a cellphone specifically for phone calls and email. So there is no need to have a phone that can use instagram, and all the other fancy gadgets that a smartphone has. However, I love the idea of a smartphone because it caters to what I like. I enjoy surfing the web, going on instagram, texting, exploring new apps, etc. so a marketer would focus more on someone like myself instead of my father in that scenario.

  9. Nick Wejchert December 14, 2015 at 2:12 am #

    When talking about tech products specifically I feel generational differences are indeed far more relevant than cultural differences, this is primarily grounded in technology literacy issues. In other words individuals who grew up with mobile tech are going to be much more comfortable with it that older generations. All that being said I feel it is important to keep in perspective the fact that the generational/cultural trend pattern is most relevant to tech products.

    Focusing in again on tech products it is easy to understand how culturally variant populations of the same or similar ages use and understand technology in similar ways. Of course there are going to be some cultural differences in tech use however it is critical to realize that most large mobile tech companies (apple, google, samsung ect) are multi national corporations, which in turn results in similar tech penetration to developed global markets.

  10. Jose Gonzalez Rodriguez December 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Technology has taken over our lives and has had a great influence on our daily tasks . We are now in the Instagram generation, a generation that has the power to choose through pictures which moments to capture and keep for ever. In a way thanks to new technologies we can now eternalize a moment for ever just by taking a picture and uploading it. therefore now a days we are the ones who control our memories and choose what to remember the most out of each experience we live.

  11. Katrina Tacconelli December 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    We are constantly using media of some sort. I am personally old fashion and enjoy at times not using media but its true we have grown up using media and continue to use media. Media is not the best thing at times but it sure does make our lives a lot easier. WE have unlimited access to the internet and this is great for our society. It keeps our expanding our knowledge and lives.


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