Brand relationships: Building strong connections with Gen X and Gen Y

Jo-Ann Osipow and Kathy Sheehan

We are in the midst of a cultural tipping point. Gen Y (or Millennials, as they are often called) will soon eclipse the Baby Boom generation in terms of sheer numbers. This is very significant here in the United States, since for most of the post-World War II era, the American cultural tone has been set by the Baby Boomers. We are now entering a new era of cultural influence dictated by a fresh generation.

Representing approximately 71 million people, with the oldest turning age 34 in 2014, Gen Y should be a group that is well understood by marketers, as well as the larger business community. However, this is far from the case; Gen Y remains a mystery to many. David Brooks recently wrote in The New York Times (March 10, 2014):

One set of numbers in the data leaps out. For decades Americans have been asked if they believe most people can be trusted. Forty percent of baby boomers believe most people can be trusted. But only 19 percent of millennials believe that. This is a thoroughly globalized and linked generation with unprecedentedly low levels of social trust.