Different generations have radically different experiences and context for their lives. And, these experiences can have significant implications for marketing professionals. Example: do today’s college students know what ‘card punch’ equipment was? How about listening to music using vinyl ‘albums’ instead of digital files?
To help highlight and understand the differences between generations, every year since 1998, Beloit College (Wisconsin) has assembled a list of cultural items and topics that have shaped the lives of new college freshmen. Beloit’s Mindset List was originally created to help its faculty become aware of dated references that might confuse students (or make faculty seem like they are totally out of date).
For example, the class of 2017, born in 1995, is considered digital-natives who already know how to connect to each other. These students are enrolling in academic majors that lead to good-paying jobs and many of them will take a few courses taught at a remote university, by professors they will never meet. They use smart phones in class – sometimes to work on actual assignments and sometimes just to connect with each other socially! A few of their mindset list highlights include:
- GM doesn’t mean the car company – it’s “Genetically Modified.”
- Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
- Gaga has never been baby talk.
- They could always get rid of outdated toys on eBay.
- They have only known two Presidents of the United States.
- Spray paint has never legally been sold in Chicago.
- With GPS, they never need directions to get someplace, just an address
- Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.
Check out Beloit’s list and see which of the list’s items might hold implications for companies in product innovation and marketing.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
1. Review the Beloit Mindset list: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2017/2. Divide students into groups. Have them list the most popular items in areas such as: movies, music, art, television, sports, etc.
3. Then have the teams research what the leading products in these areas were 20 and 30 years ago.
4. What are the implications for marketing products to the different generations? How do companies adapt products and marketing to reach across generations?
5. How might a company take an older product (such as vinyl albums) and update it for relevance to today’s college student market?
Source: Beloit College, various news sources, 9/2013