Introduction to Generation Nation: Table of Contents

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The U.S. Census Bureau predicted that the U.S. population would hit 300 million in October 2006. (Readers can monitor the Bureau's population clock at www.snurl.com/popclock1.) Minutes after the prediction was announced (in September 2006), a long series of resounding thumps could be heard nationwide, as marketers everywhere began to pound their heads in an effort to absorb the fact that they had been presented with what may be the most massive marketing-campaign planning opportunity ever. We wish them all the best in their endeavors.

We also have a gift for them and readers of this magazine (those same marketers would say a free gift, but we're conscientious editors who never, ever, use redundancy). This special issue of CRM magazine presents an overview of population trends for consumer strategists that covers various generations: the War Generation (and older), Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y--a nation of generations, if you will. The handiest way to approach this overview may be to regard it as a united state of measurements, methods, and tools that will help marketers navigate the complex sales and marketing waters that swirl around targeted campaigns for each of these segments.

Some of the advice here is in tip form, such as never tell a Baby Boomer that he's old and always let a Generation Yer know that you know she is an independent thinker with an iconoclastic turn of mind. Other helpful suggestions include how to interact with the targeted consumer group and how to place potential customers' wants and needs ahead of your company's--which echoes Yankelovich President Walker Smith's words about today's consumers and control in CRM magazine in March ("Thinking Outside the (Mail)box"). Last, the information in this issue can help guide marketers toward a comprehensive plan for targeting different generations of American consumers who are increasingly adept at search, are resistant to obvious attempts at generalized pitches, and overall, have access to millions of companies through as many Internet sites. Your company is probably one of them, but as always, winning market share is about how companies achieve standout recognition in the market.

A note about the observations reported here: These cohorts' putative behaviors should serve as a general guide to adapting targeted marketing tactics. Again, this is an overview--even Smith states, in his book Coming to Concurrence: Addressable Attitudes and the New Model for Marketing Productivity, that the "value of demographics has begun to wear out a little bit." Demographic data must be combined with behavioral and attitudinal data to get the most accurate view of consumers, but it is still a necessary foundation for marketers to build on.

Read on for fascinating and informative aspects about Generation Nation.

Y Me

Members of Generation Y were the first to mature in a media-saturated, tech-savvy world--here's how to blow past the buzz and get the brand into their brains.

X Ways
Generation X's consumer identity isn't easy to pin down, but a large aspect of successful selling to this crowd involves clarity, honesty, and open communication.

Wild & Crazy
Companies see green in graying Baby Boomers' attitudes and outlook on life.

Elder Effect

Mature consumers are marketing's underserved age bracket, and campaigns usually miss the mark with this cohort. Here's how to fix these efforts' misfires.

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