Why You Can’t Pigeonhole A Baby Boomer
I found an interesting statistic yesterday. In the U.S., in 1965, there were approximately 60 childbirths per 1,000 women under 20 years of age. Even though the stats suggested it was higher than in many other western countries, that’s quite a few babies.
I Want To Hold Your Hand
When my brother graduated high school in 1965, he danced to I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles and Do Wah A Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann. When I graduated in 1971, I danced to Spill The Wine by Eric Burdon and War and Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum. Those babies born in 1965 would have danced to Physical by Olivia Newton-John and Centerfold by J. Geils Band in 1983.
Beatle Boots To Politics
My brother sported a ducktail and was ultra-cool in his Beatle boots. I had long-flowing hair, high-waisted elephant pants and blue liquid eye shadow. That teen in 1983 wore layers of fun clothes, tightly cinched at the waist and “big” hair.
President Johnson and Prime Minister Pearson ran North America when ‘the bro’ was starting to pay attention; Nixon and Trudeau (Canada was way cooler during those years!) as I got into voting mode; and that anonymous younger-than was weaned on Reagan and a tag-team of Trudeau (same one) and Mulroney.
First Car and First House
I remember the awe when my brother showed up in his very first car: a Triumph Spitfire! I was so cool, as in guilt-by-association! My first car on the other hand? a Ford Cortina! but it was mine, all mine, and I did have some fun in it! by the mid-80s, the Toyota Tercel was the affordable option.
If my brother had bought a house in Victoria at age 30, he would have paid about $55k. I did buy a house in Victoria at age 30, paid about $68k. Sorry, anonymous younger-than, your price was about $240k.
I use my brother in some of these examples as he was born in 1947 and I have direct information about him and his choices. He turned 70 last year and is thinking about giving up his part-time job so he can work his custom furniture business as full-time as he chooses. He still runs several times each week and regularly challenges his own times in 5, 8 and 10k road races. I don’t mention him to my 54-year-old neighbour who had triple bypass last Fall.
By now you may be wondering where I’m going with all this trivial information. Let me start at the beginning.
The Same Generation?
Would you ever want to be classified in the same generation as your parents? Hell No!
If you were a teen going “to let your body talk, your body talk” would it be with a partner nearing 40? Highly doubtful!! (1982 – I remember a co-worker truly blown away to hear some young people on a bus discussing Paul McCartney and one suggested he had a band called “Wings”. Another mentioned the Beatles and most of the group asked who they were.) I’m confident I was letting my body talk and I was holding his hand when I floated around the dance floor to In A Gadda Da Vida while someone mixed coloured oils on the overhead projector. James Dean and Jim Morrison were both just names in the history books by the time Boy George arrived on the stage.
While my brother had modified his look by 1971, he was still a bit embarrassing-looking (yes, I realize that says more about me than him). I donned one of my favourite outfits from high school one Hallowe’en in the early ‘80s and got a disgusted look from someone at the bank who stopped long enough to sneer and remind me I used to be a Hippie. I know a few women who used to wear those ’80s styles – they’ve burned their yearbooks!
I won’t dwell on politics, suffice it to say that Nixon and Trudeau alone define the gulf there, no matter what era you’re from.
I also won’t talk cars as I currently have, and Summer drive, a 1966 Corvair! True story: I’ve been asked, on occasion, if I bought it brand new.
House prices: $240k is still a drop in the bucket compared to today. Interestingly, the interest rates were comparable for all of us (we dodged the 20% bullet of 1981).
Health is a strange discussion too. I know genetics can be an influence but it still seems strange to see so many people younger than me in the obits. It’s impossible to make generalities.
Finally, I have a friend, age 64, who’s a great-Gramma; a man I know became a first-time dad at age 56.
Baby Boomers – A Massive Demographic
My point here is that to lump such a massive great demographic as Baby Boomers into one pot is impossible. More impossible than any other generation previously. The only thing you can say for sure when comparing those born in 1946 with those born in 1965 is that they are older. They probably don’t like comparisons with their parents; they may or may not listen to the same music; clothing reflects personality more than generation; again, No Comment on the political front; there are really young and really old people in my car club; we all figured out how to buy a house if we wanted to; health can be a personal choice – no accounting for choice; a man age 56 learning how to hold a baby for the first time does not identify with the ease of that great-Gramma.
Actual Circles of Association
If you look at your circles of association, are they defined by your generation? Or are they defined by more tangible commonalities?
- your kids went to school together
- you work for the same company
- you belong to the same book club or golf course (or car club!)
- you volunteer on the same day
- you belong to the same business networking group
I’m fine being smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boomer generation (although don’t use that word “Bulge”!) It is a commonality of sorts, but it doesn’t trigger conversation the way other commonalities can. A demographic makes life easier for statisticians. When I have a specific subject in mind, however, I need to look for people who identify with that subject. When I’m marketing, I get responses from all genders and different age groups… even though I think my message is for the Boomer female.
What spurred this post? I hear other business people saying they target “Baby Boomers” and it tells me so little. I listened to a futurist who so eloquently explained to his audience that the definition of service had to dig deeper than the broad brush stroke of “Baby Boomer”.
Seems it took me more words than him…