From Generation Gap To Great Divide

From Generation Gap To Great Divide

The conflict between hippies and their parents in the 1960s gave rise to a new term: the generation gap.  Ever since, the phrase has been an easy way to define the differences in attitudes, politics and culture between the young and their elders.  And while the generation gap seen today between aging Baby Boomers and a younger, fast-growing, multi-cultural population may not be as pronounced or dramatic as it was 40 years ago, the ramifications for the U.S. in 2020 are just as big, and perhaps even more so.

Beyond the typical issues such as values, morality, ethics, politics and religion, the generation gap extends to attitudes toward media.  For example, younger people still watch a significant amount of TV (those age 25-34 watch more than 150 hours per month), but people age 65 and over watch 38 percent more.  People age 35 and over spend more time online compared to the young.  But when it comes to mobile phones, the young are the clear leaders in adopting and embracing new technology and products.  For example, they are more likely to forsake landline phones in favor of mobile.  They send texts with abandon – the average teenager sent or received over 35,000 messages in 2008!  That’s 163 times more than the average 65 year old.

The U.S. in 2020 will be a very different marketplace from 2009, and the generation gap – the differences in values, outlooks and political perspectives – combined with the major demographic changes we analyzed last month, will play a starring role in shaping how media and technology are used.

Read a full analysis of the generation gap in the August edition of Consumer Insight.