Your Five-Generation Opportunity

Two people that represent different generations shake hands

Be a Superconnector in this Era of Remarkable Age Diversity

Marketers and advancement leaders in higher ed know that individuals who share an alma mater also tend to share some ideals. But those audience cohorts can be worlds apart in other ways. That’s true now more than ever. The vanguard of Generation Z are taking their places alongside Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and members of the Silent Generation in your alumni family. Each generation shares certain formative experiences (or “canon events” in Gen Z-speak) that shape perspectives, and each generation also has preferred modes of communicating. How do we all reach, move, and unite audiences to advance the world-changing goals of a college or university—while honoring their preferences and embracing their differences?

To illuminate how five generations of college-educated adults see themselves and the world around them, Yes& Lipman Hearne looked to our AI-driven insights tool, reflecting the views of over 230 million consumers.

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We were delighted to share the below presentation—The Five Generation Challenge: Galaxy-Brain Your Audience Strategy—at the recent 2023 CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement. To download your own copy of the full deck, leave us your name and email here.

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Some key takeaways (and fruitful starting points!):

A relationship of trust begins with listening for the nuances. It’s helpful to know the age, hometown, major, and marital status of someone you’re trying to connect with. But it’s extremely valuable to tune in to their values, motivators, interests, and lifestyle choices—and to have a sense of where, when, and how your audiences are investing their time, attention, and resources. Armed with the right insights, you can be visible and present in conversations that matter to every one of your audiences.

Age isn’t a proxy for life stage. In fact, life stages are richly diverse, age-wise. It’s becoming more and more common for students to start attending college later, take longer to complete a degree, and/or return for a graduate degree at any point in their career. Customary milestones—degrees, homeownership, marriage, children, retirement—don’t always follow the expected sequence (if they ever did), nor do they occur in narrowly defined age ranges. People of all ages and generations are sharing life-changing experiences with one another, which chips away at generational divides.

We’re living in the most age-diverse society in human history and, simultaneously, one of the most age-segregated.”

— Elizabeth Clay Roy, Eunice Lin Nichols, and Layla Zaidane of Generation Citizen, CoGenerate, and Millennial Action Project

Data revealed by our AI-powered audience insights tool tells a deeper, dynamic story. Here’s a snippet about each generation:

  • Members of the Silent Generation care about obligations and traditions, and have an acute sense of duty to the generations that will survive them.
  • Boomers take pride in being dependable—and they feel a lot is riding on them. Whether retired or still in the workforce, they are an important part of the support system for their elderly parents as well as their adult children, grandchildren, friend groups, and communities.
  • Gen X might be flying under the radar, but they’re holding their own. This generation values balance and contentment. A top hobby: happy hour.
  • Millennials, now mostly in their 30s and beyond, want to be taken seriously—and they appreciate being seen. They are a large generation, and they’ve been immersed in narratives about their collective power all their lives. 
  • Gen Z is a generation raised on the stimulation and variety of YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok while simultaneously seeing a significant portion of their youth disrupted by a global pandemic. Gen Z are eager to enjoy the freedoms of adulthood and start to build their lives—but they’re also attuned to the feelings of others.

Broad-strokes insights are a starting point. Let insights about generations fuel your curiosity about your audiences—then turn that curiosity into your superpower. Yes& Lipman Hearne can support you with custom audience analyses, quantitative and qualitative research, tailored creative, and digital media campaigns served directly to the audience subsets you define.

Have a specific goal or challenge you’d like to discuss? Connect with us through our contact us form and we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.

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