Accenture, the global consulting firm based in Dublin, Ireland, estimated that approximately $30 trillion of wealth is going to be passed from older generations to younger generations over the next three to four decades. That shift, in monetary strength alone, will create many opportunities for subsequent generations. So, who are those younger generations and what do they like or dislike that could impact the growth of your company?

According to the Brookings Institution, in July of 2019, 50.7% of residents in the United States just so happened to be under forty years old. In another population analysis, the Census Bureau indicated Millennials (also known as Generation Y) and Generation Z totaled 166 million people, whereas, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation totaled 162 million people. Further, for that younger group of residents, almost half were members of an ethnic or racial minority.

When we take a look at the generations there are four groups. Baby Boomers were those born between 1944 and 1964. They represent people who are currently in the age range of 56 to 76 years old. Generation X, as it is known, comes next. They were born between 1965 and 1979, representing an age range of between 41 and 55 years old. The third generation and by far the largest is the Millennials. They were born between 1980 and 1994 and have a current age range between 26 and 40. The fourth group is Generation Z. They were born between 1995 and 2015 with a current age range of 5 to 25 years old. 

The key for you and your business is to find out as much as you can about each generation and figure out the best way to market to each one of them.

And yet, money is not everything. The Boomer Generation, it is predicted, will not go into old age willingly. They will want to stay young, vibrant and productive, as long as possible. That is where their desire to leave a legacy, different from money, will come into play. They will want to give subsequent generations instructions on how to live life, memories that can be memorialized and passed down from generation to generation, spanning many generations, not just by trying to remember what was said, but actually reading something that was written, or viewing something that was captured on video. 

Roughly 70% of families lose a chunk of their inherited wealth, mostly due to estate battles, according to research conducted over two decades by the Williams Group, a San Clemente, Calif., firm that helps families avoid such conflicts.

Ken Gronbach, author of The Age Curve, has an uncanny ability to describe generations of people, in particular the ‘Baby Boom’ generation; those who were born between 1945 and 1964. They are the people who will be transferring not only their wealth over the next several decades, but their wisdom and experiences, as well. As Gronbach states, the Baby Boom generation represents “mass, money and motivation”. They were the largest generation until recently, when one of the latest generations, called the Millennials, eclipsed them in size.

“Each generation looks to the previous one for information, similar to the way schoolchildren get their cues from the big kids on the playground. The Silent Generation looked to the GI Generation and copied it. There were a lot of big kids to copy. The Silents adopted their work ethic, their fidelity, and the sense of their duty. They adopted their frugal spending habits and their tendency to save money. When Boomers looked to the Silents we couldn’t see very many. There were no big kids on the playground to copy. So we decided to make things up on our own.” And, as the saying goes, the rest is history. The Baby Boom generation is also saving, as well as spending their money at an unprecedented rate.  

The main point in all of these figures is to encourage you to do your homework with reference to how your marketing will need to influence the different generations, probably in different ways, since each generation has a relatively unique set of characteristics which will appeal to one but not the other. The key for your company is determining which demographic segment it is dealing with at the time. If it is working across demographic segments, determine those segments. In light of the research by Gronbach, the Brookings Institution, and Accenture, there are many opportunities that exist within and outside of each generation.

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