Imagine trying to explain artificial intelligence to a 90-year-old man. Let’s call him old-timer. If old-timer is 90 years old in 2020, then he was born when the television was being commercialized. If he lived in the United States, he would be at least 9 years old before he watched a broadcast in black-and-white.
Old-timer did not see colored broadcasts until he was at least 37 years old, he did not use a telephone till he was around 50 years, and wifi didn’t exist till he was around 67 years old. It’s easy to see why it’d be hard for him to wrap his head around A.I.
Our world changes from one generation to the next. And the further apart the generations are, the more pronounced these changes are. Each generation consists of people born in a 25 year period. They share similar values, character, spending habits, and more.
One way to determine what an entire generation values is to check what they spend their money on. In that light, we researched the spending habits of some preceding generations, and the results tell an interesting story.
Also called the silent generation, traditionalists were born between 1925 and 1945. This generation faced challenges like world war II and the great depression, and these events instilled in them a high level of frugality.
Practicality and consistency
Due to economic downturns caused by the great depression and world war II, traditionalists were very practical people. They worked hard to survive and managed what little they had. Because there weren’t many financial and economic options, traditionalists stuck with the jobs they had and were not known to switch.
Traditionalists are loyal both to their country and their employers. They spent their entire careers working at one firm, dedicating themselves whole-heartedly to their jobs and in return expecting loyalty from their employers.
Named after their way of life, the traditionalists are salt-of-the-earth people. They value traditional morals, security, and family structure. Even at work, they believe in the chain of command, hard work, and security.
Spending data shows an emphasis on groceries at 30.4 percent of total expenditure. General expenses including saving succeed groceries as the next highest category at 22.5 percent of total expenditure. This hints at their way of life. Traditionalists’ frugality makes survival and saving their top two priorities.
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. This generation is named because of the spike in the number of births in 1964. It was a few months after the war and people believed prosperity was just around the corner, so they were willing to settle down and start families.
Around this time, suburban housing grew in popularity. Companies like William Levitt bought land on the outskirts of cities and began building houses that were more family-friendly and cheap. Traditionalist parents moved into these houses in droves and raised their baby boomer kids there.
Social justice and counterculture
This time of plenty led to a culture of consumerism among the traditionalist that many boomers kicked against when they became of age. Many of them spent their efforts fighting for social justice and equality. Baby boomers boast the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Other baby boomers detached themselves completely from the prevalent social culture, grew their hair long, experimented with drugs, and began the group we know today as “hippies”.
Consumer data shows baby boomers spent less on groceries than their parents. This could be because they had more options as restaurant spending increased. There was also increased spending on hobbies, clothing, and housing.
Gen Xers, or the MTV generation, were born between 1965 and 1980. They are the most highly educated generation with 29 percent of them obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, they are known to be cynical and pessimistic.
Gen Xers grew up in a time where the average household relied on two streams of income. Both parents worked, leaving their children (Gen Xers) alone for long periods of time. This instilled in them a sense of independence and self-sufficiency which followed them into adulthood.
Many Gen Xers saw their parents devote their lives to one job and then lose their position, and this made them reluctant to dedicate their lives to one employer. As such, Gen Xers became more flexible with their careers, valuing work/life balance above employer loyalty.
This generation grew up with the computer and the best technology had to offer at the time. They were more tech-savvy than their predecessors and many of them can adapt to modern-day technology.
Consumer data shows reduced spending on groceries general spending compared to the baby boomers. This could be because Gen Xers at the extreme left of the curve lived through some economic downturns. However, the increased spending on restaurants and hobbies could be attributed to their work/life balance ideology.
The Millenials were born between 1980 and 1994. They were born during the dotcom boom when internet companies began their rise to power. This had a huge influence on them; their technical savvy is one thing millennials are known for.
Technology is a way of life for the average millennial. They grew up around laptops, smartphones, and technology. Many of them prefer working at companies that are tech-oriented or incorporate technology into their daily operations.
Communication between millennials also differs from their baby boomer and Gen X predecessors. Millennials prefer email, instant messaging, and social media to traditional phone calls both in their personal lives and in the workplace.
Confident and ambitious, millennials are known to take on challenges in the workplace and they expect high standards both from themselves and their employers.
Millennials love their families. They are known to sacrifice career success for a work-life balance. This has led to a rise in working from home or remote work culture and the gig economy. Many millennials quit their corporate jobs to start internet businesses that afford them time to spend with their families, travelling, and working on themselves.
Love being told they’re special
Unlike their predecessors who were taught that only the best/first get the prize, millennials were given medals for participation. Many argue that this made them the generation that needs validation. Whether or not this is true, millennials love constant feedback, and the concept of mentorship became prominent during their generation.
Millennial spending patterns show a preference for eating at restaurants—millennials love convenience…and avocado toast. Spending on hobbies also increased, this is attributed to their work-life balance outlook.