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Doing Consumer Research: A Resource Guide

Generations

Defining "generations" is not an exact science. The breakdowns are subjective and the traits of each cohort are generalized. For the most part, date ranges for generations are based around common economic, social, or political factors that happened during formative years. One can find disagreements and complaints over date ranges, generation names, and the over-generalized "personality" of each generation. However, marketers and journalists do sometimes find these groupings useful in targeting their marketing to particular age groups. For an example of a fairly rough outline of generational breakdowns, see the website of LifeCourse Associates External Link founded by the authors of Millennials Rising.

This page is a re-creation of the earlier guide "Generational Market Segmentation." The sources here are not meant to be exhaustive, but provide a general background into consumer groups segmented demographically by generation.

Generation Z

Generation Z, also sometimes known as iGeneration, Zoomers, post-Millennials, or Homelanders, are defined by Pew Research Center as those born between 1997 and 2012. This generation is often thought of as "digital natives" or "born digital" because the internet has always been a part of their lives. While most are too young to remember the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, they grew up in a world concerned with security and international terrorism; the United States has been at war in Afghanistan for most of their lives. They are the most ethnically and racially diverse generational cohorts in America.

Additional websites:

The following are just a few of the titles on these topics. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Millennial

Millennials, also sometimes referred to as Generation Y, are defined as being born between 1981-1996. Older Millennials have referred to themselves as Xennials, because they identify more closely with Generation X, or as the Oregon Trail Generation, after a popular computer game from their childhood. In the media, the term millennial became synonymous with young adults in general, often pejoratively, and a large number of articles were published blaming "millennials" for ruining traditional industries. This generation's defining historical moment is the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, which took place during their formative years. Many were entering the workforce during the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession, which impacted their finances and economic views. As of 2019, Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers, becoming the largest generational cohort.

The following are just a few of the titles on these topics. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Generation X

Generation X, defined by the Pew Research Center as those born between 1965-1980, is the smallest generation by population, due to lower birth rates. They are sometimes referred to as the MTV generation, as the MTV channel debuted in their formative years. This generation was born during the sexual revolution and women's liberation movement. As they grew up, they saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the AIDS epidemic, and the dot-com bubble crash in the 1990s.

The following are just a few of the titles on these topics. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those born between 1946 and 1964. This generation's name and and time frame come from the dramatic increase in birth rates post-WWII until 1964, after which the birth rate declined. Since it is tied to birth rates, this is the only generation with definitive dates and recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau. As the largest generational cohort—until recently, when they were surpassed by Millennials—they receive a lot of media and advertising attention.

The following are just a few of the titles on these topics. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.