Marketing Demography: The Silent Generation Raises its Head...and the Bar!



Teaching marketing to global millennials keeps this baby boomer on her toes.

Last night I was in the classroom with my Tuesday night group, enjoying their thinking, which at sometimes seems to be done at a Snapchat pace, and appreciating their urgent sense of getting things done. Who says that this generation is too slow on the uptake? The same goes for my Thursday class, another global group whose ability to jump into setting up strategies for real businesses will be tested tomorrow in their midterm presentations. I'm not worried about this generation. They are the demographic of "just do it!" for me.

On the way home on the subway I read my newly arrived issue of AARP. it's really got me interested over the last years as they've been pushing to find their brand positioning place in the media marketing space and they have my attention... Jane Fonda is on the cover this month. Jane Fonda isn't part of the millennial or baby boomer generation. She at 79 years young (...and yeah, I met her when she as 70 & shook her hand and was dazzled!). She is a part of a marketing demographic called the "Silent Generation", the group wedged between the WW2 Heroes and the Age of Aquarius Baby Boomers. The low birthrate between 1925-42 kept their numbers down. Researchers set the group at about 20 million. I began to think of the people I know in that demographic. And Jane Fonda has some competition, especially in the city of NYC  where so many of my business friends in their 70's are living in what Jane has called "third act" careers. 

For the most part this group has kept their heads down, enjoying the benefit of the post war and also witnessing the crazy fall out of national pivoting found in the McCarthy era. They've also made themselves comfortable with nest eggs in their retirement that would be the envy of millennials and the tech native Gen Z group behind them. Those who get the headlines, Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman  present a vibrancy that can inspire generations after them... wait a second---so maybe this generation is silent no more. Maybe their time has come. I see this myself   when I work on the Baruch EOC Advisory Board and meet Silent Generation members who have built an amazing mentoring model for the College. These aren't famous stars, they are committed , giving people whose heads aren't down, they are leading us to bridge the gaps and create intergenerational partnerships. Googling around, you can find a wealth of members of this demographic who have started businesses in tech, retail the arts-- you name it.

It may be that the combination of falling between the cracks of two gorilla demos has served this population. Its time may be coming now .The cohort that couldn't even elect a president out of its midst almost did have a candidate-- finally, in Bernie!! (Bush Sr. of the WW2 generation was succeeded by Clinton of the Baby Boomers)....hmmm see how Silent this generation has become. It's truly interesting as we look at longevity that a late blooming generation may still be able to wield some clout! And it can raise the bar for us on how to live large in our later years.

So, marketers take notice! These members are raising the bar and  have the buying power to drive a luxury Mercedes while gifting a starter Mercedes to their great grandchildren!!