Meet the Generations

May 20, 2024

Generations are fascinating: the way they’re defined and talked about and the way they influence each other.

But the fact is, the concept of generations is an over-simplification: it condenses into categories an incredibly complex reality. Each generation spans about 15 to 20 years, encompassing a huge diversity of people and their varied experiences, including birth year, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, upbringing, socio-economic status, regionality and more.

Despite that, looking at the generations can help us understand changes over time, and, in broad strokes, how these groups are different from each other—and how they inform each other.

Below you’ll find our summary of the post-WWII US generations (from Boomers to today’s kids, Gen Alpha), which shows how shifts in technology, media and historical events have influenced pop culture and society over time.

C3 Lab - Meet the Generations - Technology and Media
C3 Lab - Meet the Generations - Youth and Childhood
C3 Lab - Meet the Generations - Wrap Up

As these charts show, the evolution of the generations—and the relationship between them—is complex. There are three main ways that the generations influence each over time:

  • Emerging ideas become new realities: D.H. Lawrence is quoted as saying “The ideas of one generation become the instincts of the next.” In other words, what is new, different and sometimes hard-fought for in one generation becomes a given for the following generations. For example, the internet that was once a revolutionary technology is now taken for granted.
  • Rebellion & differentiation: At times, what defines a generation becomes something for future generations to rebel against or define themselves apart from. Boomers rebelled against their traditional upbringing; Gen Z has taken great pains to define themselves as the cool generation by distancing themselves from older generations (e.g., “OK, Boomer”).
  • Unforeseen consequences: Finally, another way that generations influence each other is by creating unforeseen consequences that later generations have to reckon with.
    • Boomers created an economic system that strongly benefited them, often at the expense of younger generations.
    • Millennials were raised by helicopter parents, with constant praise, often leading to anxiety and a need for validation.
    • Gen Z and Gen Alpha are growing up with the realities (both positive and negative) of smartphones and the toll they take on connection and mental health.

    We at C3 are particularly interested in the youngest generations: Gen Alpha, today’s kids, and Gen Zers, today’s teens and young adults. Be sure to check back for deeper dives on those generations in the coming months!

    If your brand is interested in engaging with the generations through tangible products and activations, contact us!


    Sources: YouthBeat Research, KidSay Research, C Space Research, Tentpole Strategy & Insights, McCrindle, C3 Research.

    ABOUT C3
    C3 is a Kansas City-based marketing and design agency that brings brands to life for families with children through experiences and entertainment. C3 uses insights, strategy and expertise to produce award-winning programs and custom products to help major restaurant, hospitality and service industry partners connect with families wherever they are—in person, at home or in the community at large.

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