Advertising to Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys.

Abelman, R. (1996). Can we generalize from generation X? Not! Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40(3)

In this essay, Robert Abelman skewers the notion that studies done in the mid-90s using college students could produce generalizable data, citing numerous differences between Gen Xers being sampled in the studies and the Boomers preceding them. In an overtly pejorative tone, Abelman sculpts the Gen X stereotype to be apathetic, cynical about the future, unmotivated and even comparatively unintelligent. He also paints them as highly media-conscious and critical, able to dissect media messages on the fly and encouraging trends away from mass media into more personalized, interactive sources of information.

Abelman's 1996 article typifies the extreme end of the argument that Gen Xers are strikingly different from Boomers in terms of their relationship to media and advertising, to the point that studies employing Gen X participants cannot be said to apply to other generations. This may be true, but other studies reviewed indicate these differences are not as vast as this author believes.

Andrews, J. (1989). The dimensionality of beliefs toward advertising in general. Journal of Advertising, 18(1), 26-35

Andrews conducts a study to test the results of a 1968 endeavor by Bauer and Greyser, which researched the social and economic dimensions affecting attitudes and beliefs about advertising. Employing a vast sample size (over 1,500) across universities nationwide, Andrews and his colleagues, sampling Early Gen X Cuspers, confirmed many of the results of Bauer and Greyser, who had sampled Early Boomer Cuspers. The Andrews study also investigated the attitudes and beliefs of marketing students, expecting to find these students, who chose advertising and marketing as their coursework, to hold a more favorable view toward advertising in general. The results show that the two dimensions put forth in the earlier study, social and economic, are valid and consistent across the sisample groups, and surprisingly show no additional favoritism towards advertising by marketing students.

This study does not look at the cross-generational aspect of advertising attitudes, but the results are significant in that the study reveals a continued trend of negative attitudes and beliefs toward advertising among Early Boomers in their college years, with Gen Xers maintaining this trend. In the twenty years spanning the two research studies, the same distrust and criticism of advertising is still apparent.

Beard, F. (2003). College student attitudes toward advertising's ethical, economic and social consequences. Journal of Business Ethics, 48(3), 217-228

Fred Beard in 2003 published the results of his attempt to do a comparison study of attitudes toward advertising of college students, whom he identifies as Gen Ys (although by Market's definition, he's really addressing late Cusper Gen Xers and early Cusper Gen Ys) and contrasts them to an earlier study done by Larkert published in 1977. While Larkert's study was not constrained to a generation--his subjects ranged from 18-55--Beard's study was intended to explore the bedrock beliefs accounting for differences or similarities between these two groups, and to provide benchmarks for future research on the topic. The same 1977 Larkin questionnaire was given to 129 students (n>200 in Larkin's study) and although the male/female ratio was different in the 2003 study, otherwise demographically the sample was similar, with a mean age of 20.

The results showed more similarities than differences. Both groups exhibited a strong skepticism of advertising, but the 2003 group seemed more willing to accept advertising as an everpresent part of their media landscape (<20% assert there should be less of it) and, interestingly, were more ambivalent toward advertising's ethical characteristics and consequences than were the 1977 group. This didn't mean the Xers/Ys tolerated invalid or misleading claims however; the 2003 data indicates that these students were at least as critical of advertising's truthfulness (or lack thereof) as they were in 1977, if not more so. All in all, with the exception of these issues, the symmetry of these two datasets indicate that the Boomers' skepticism is alive and well in Generation X and Y, even if they are less judgmental of it.

Boush, D., Friestad, M., Rose, G. (1994). Adolescent skepticism toward TV advertising and knowledge of advertiser tactics. Journal of Consumer Research, 21, 165-175

These authors undertook a longitudinal study of 426 adolescents in grades 6-8 (Core/Late Xers), to examine the development of skepticism toward advertising and advertiser tactics. Skepticism was high throughout the course of the study, and remained relatively stable throughout, while their disbelief of advertising claims increased as they got older and began to discern specific tactics used by advertisers. This discernment was apparent as early as sixth grade. Skepticism was also correlated with self-esteem, but these results were inconclusive. The researchers included undergraduate business students, also Gen Xers, for comparison.

This study focuses on adolescent Gen Xers' attitudes toward advertising, and its results show considerable mistrust of advertisers' motives and a healthy distrust of advertising at an early age. This is consistent with the 1975 Moore-Moschis findings, except that while Moore & Moschis found a relatively benign relationship between advertising and [Boomer] adolescents, Boush et al discovered a highly skeptical attitude from Gen Xers.

Brucks, M., Armstrong, G., Goldberg, M. (1988). Children's use of cognitive defenses against television advertising: A cognitive response approach. Journal of Consumer Research, 14, 471-

Brucks, Armstrong and Goldberg conducted a study of 102 9- and 10-year olds (Core Xers) in four fourth grade classes to see how advanced their cognitive processing was when watching television advertising. Particular care was taken not to "cue" some of the children to begin thinking critically about advertising by the very questions themselves. One class was shown an informational film several days prior to the testing, and asked critical questions about the film, "priming" the children as a control group. Results indicated parity between skepticism of both groups, but the "primed" group was better equipped to spot advertising techniques and were thus more critical of the ads shown them.

This study shows a natural skepticism present in children at an early age, but less cognitive processing of advertising unless specifically asked to do so. At this age, Xers are wary of advertising and have some grasp of the techniques employed, but do not seem as naturally inclined (as they are later) to cognitively defend against these techniques.

Buijzen, M., Valkenburg, P. (2003). The unintended effects of television advertising: A parent-child survey. Communication Research, 30(5), 483-503

Coupland, D. (1991). Generation X. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Gardner, D (1975). Deception in advertising: a conceptual approach. Journal of Marketing, 39, 40-46

David Gardner explores concepts of deception in advertising, outlining several viewpoints as to what constitutes deception, the act of deceiving verses the perception of deception, and efforts by the Federal Trade Commission to deal with it. Gardner then proposes a definition of deception for analysis, and offers research methods for detecting and evaluating deception in advertising. However, by his own admission, the concepts surrounding deception in marketing messages is highly subjective. Even the use of a well-matured and maintained brand name carries implications that are potentially (and unquantifiably) misleading. The author's suggestions on how to define, measure and thereby regulate deception are intended to provide a framework for advertising professionals and regulators to agree on acceptable behavior boundaries.

This piece is included here because it outlines some of the problems of misleading advertising, which is arguably responsible for skepticism and cynicism among consumers; other studies show that even very young children can spot and recognize deceit in advertisements, contributing to skepticism and distrust of them.

Geraci, J. & Nagy, J. (2004). Millennials--the new media generation. Advertising & Marketing to Children, (January-March), 17-24.

Haller, T. (1974). What students think of advertising. Journal of Advertising Research, 14(1), 33-38

While this author does not refer to them as such, this study conducted in 1974 of 500 college students--intended to be representative of the 18-34 market demographic--is in fact an early survey of the advertising attitudes of Core Boomers. The responses given by participants in this study indicate that college students of the time were in sharp disagreement with contemporary professionals regarding the value of advertisements, regarding them as annoying, insulting to their intelligence, even useless and unnecessary. The author concludes that the results could be interpreted to reflect a bias, on the part of the advertisers, toward their own values and preferences over those of their target market.

This study is included because it provides insightful counterpoint to the 2001 Wolburg-Pokrywczynski study on Gen Y's attitudes toward advertising, illustrating how some of these attitudes have changed over the years while some have not.

Harmon, H., Webster R. & Weyenberg, S. (1999). Marketing medium impact: differences between baby boomers and generation Xers in their information search in a variety of purchase decision situations. Journal of Marketing Communications, 5, 29-38

Harmon, Webster and Weyenberg, in this study, attempt to assess the informational value of various media to Boomers and Gen Xers, to see how alike or different these two demographics are. Their research indicates that the two groups are not as different as marketers have assumed, but there were differences: Gen Xers rely more on Internet-based sources for information when making major purchases; newspapers are favored by more Boomers for smaller purchase decisions. However these results are not intended to be generalized; the researchers admit that their small sample size (60 participants, 30 from each group) and non-random selection of participants preclude generalizability in this case, intending instead to provide a pilot study to precede a more comprehensive study.

This study concludes that Xers are probably more similar to Boomers than not, although their proclivity to watch more television and turn to the Internet for information marks a departure in habits and preferences that Gen Y seems to continue.

Herbig, P., Koehler, W., Day, K. (1993). Marketing to the baby bust generation. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 10(1), 4-9

By 1993, Gen Xers were graduating high school and college, making inroads into the working population and gaining increased spending power and influence on the consumer market. Because their numbers were fewer than the Boomers, this was beginning to have unusual effects on the existing workforce, such as pushing the median age from 35.3 years to 38.9. Authors Herbig, Koehler and Day, however, made far more interesting claims about Gen Xers' motivations and expectations than about their demographic mathematics. "Impatience" is their focal concept when describing Generation X. Having fewer siblings and being raised by WWII/Depression-era parents who compensate for their material childhood deficiencies by ensuring their children want for nothing, Xers are the generation of "gimme it now," instant gratification and low self-esteem. They (according to the authors) are categorized by high and unrealistic expectations of themselves, practicality, individualism, education and more liberal on social issues than their parents. They conclude by offering guidance to marketers to play to these base motives and characteristics, emphasizing "it's what you always wanted" over "you've come a long way, baby."

In hindsight, this article was typical of many which skewered Generation X as materialistic yuppy discontents, but while Herbig et al emphasize Xers' drive and single-minded ambition, Robert Abelman's 1996 Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media article skewers Xers for being apathetic, unmotivated cynics (Abelman, 1996). However, while Abelman was attempting to dispel the notion that research on Gen Xer test subjects could be generalizable to other generations, Herbig et al are writing to assist marketers in positioning their advertising toward Gen X consumers. Perhaps Gen X consumers entering the workforce consist of more motivated people, in the opinion of the authors, than college students participating in Abelman's studies. It is interesting to note also that much of the pejorative tone then directed at Gen Xers in the early 90s is today being directed at Gen Ys.

Kitch, C. (2003). Generational identity and memory in American newsmagazines. Journalism, 4(2), 185-202

In this article, Kitch analyzes nearly 40 years of stories by newsmagazines Time and Newsweek about Boomers, Xers, Ys and the "Greatest Generation" (the generation preceding the Boomers). She finds a lot of similarity in the ways these generations, especially the former three, are identified and characterized over time. Beginning with a Time article in the mid-60s, she notes that journalists regularly refer to the upcoming generation as troublingly different, selfish, irresponsible and inexplicable. The template continues as years pass, where the generation in question is recharacterized as having been mischaracterized previously--and this is considered "newsworthy"--with emphasis in coverage given to its achievements and merit. Later this passes to nostalgia and, in the case of the "Greatest Generation," reverence and respect.

One of Kitch's most compelling points, especially in light of the research alongside it in this paper, is how the coverage of generations is almost uniformly replicative, leading one to suppose that the generations themselves could be likewise similar, but for details such as historical watershed moments, pop culture and important figures. Meanwhile, she criticizes journalists for fabricating and then perpetuating cultural stereotypes, only to later tear them down to uncover the "truth" beneath, and passing this off as news. This practice provides them a renewable resource of story material, but risks presenting, at best, a predictable, tired agitation of intergenerational conflict and, at worst, a gross and unfair distortion of the character--if such a thing is even realistically possible--of sizable segments of the population.

Larkin, E., Grotta, G. (1977). The newspaper as a source of consumer information for young adults. Journal of Advertising, 6(4), 5-11

Larkin and Grotta conducted a study of 185 people between the ages of 19 and 34, seeking to uncover trends and insights regarding their use of the newspaper versus television, magazines and radio, and how they viewed advertising in these media. Publishing in 1977, these researchers were sampling Early and Core Boomers born between 1943 and 1958. Their findings indicate that Boomers, as young adults, have a generally favorable view of television versus other media, however they favor advertising in newspapers as being more informative and less irritating than television commercials. The study indicates they see newspapers as less essential than television, but more helpful in providing information of interest to them.

Although this sample size is small and broad in age range, this study is included to provide context for studies involving Gen Xers and Gen Ys. The piece also provides complimentary data to the 1978 Moore-Moschis study examining the benign impact of advertising on teenagers in this same time period.

Leventhal, R. (1997). Aging consumers and their effects on the marketplace. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 14(4), 276-281

Richard Leventhal launches his article about "aging consumers" by citing the baby boom in his first sentence. He gives the requisite statistics, then proceeds to give his opinions on these consumers, like Moschis (2003), warning against undue stereotyping and encouraging respect and understanding of the demographic before engaging them.

What is fascinating about this article is that, with few exceptions, Leventhal's characterizations of Boomers mirror most those of Xers and Ys. If one were to change the language just enough to make these passages about Xers, for instance, it would likely be accepted as accurate. He points out some things which differentiate Boomers from Xers; for instance he claims that Boomers' "...concept of time differs a lot from Generation Xers -- the older consumer needs more time to respond." However while Xers are characterized as "...the penultimate consumers ... brand conscious, are aware of value and quality, yet are not as brand loyal as their predecessor generations." (Herbig et al, 1993), Leventhal refers to older consumers as being frequent comparison shoppers, highly dismissive of marketers they do not trust, selective, discerning and "skeptical above all else." These two generalizations are meant to individualize the respective generations, but are functionally equivalent and convey the same message: "Respect these consumers."

Maciejewski, J. (2004). Is the use of sexual and fear appeals ethical? A moral evaluation by generation Y college students. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 26(2), 97-105.

The author explores the moral judgements of Gen Y college students regarding advertisements employing fear and sexual appeals. Segmenting the audience into moral relativists and moral idealists, Maciejewski hypothesized that relativists will be more accepting of fear and seappeals in advertisements than idealists; his results confirmed this hypothesis. He also studied gender effects on both sexual and fear appeals as well, expecting (and confirming) marked differences on ethical evaluations on sexual appeals, but little difference on fear appeals. Maciejewski advises caution to advertisers wishing to employ sexual imagery to females of Gen Y, as his results indicate this demographic is particularly judgmental about them.

Although Maciejewski's study singles out college students and does not incorporate comparative research on Gen X or baby boomer attitudes (and he points these criticisms out as limitations of his study), he suggests that Gen Y's judgments of advertising has grown harsher than previous generations. For advertisers to successfully communicate with this demographic, they cannot ignore this, or they risk losing ground to competitors who won't.

Mallalieu L., Palan, K., Lacziak, R. (2005). Understanding children's knowledge and beliefs about advertising: A global issue that spans generations. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 27(1), 53-64

The authors of this study set out to example attitudes of Gen Y children (born between 1990 and 1999) about advertising. Using a series of focus groups organized by age, children gave responses to a set of questions designed for the study, which were then coded according to categories developed from and expanding on previous research on the subject. Their findings indicate an advanced conception of advertising and its persuasive intent at very young ages (5-7), including notions of advertising coming from an external source (to the program they are watching), their symbolic nature and the perception of advertising messages vis-a-vis the actual product. Comparisons were drawn between these findings and the findings of a similar 1974 study; the 2005 findings indicate that Gen Y children are notably more media savvy and discerning when it comes to television advertising.

This study is important because it shows that Gen Ys are not only watching extraordinary amounts of television, they are learning to discriminate and critically evaluate what they see at an earlier age. As one 7-year old male put it, "I don't believe the things I see in commercials because I think they are lying."

Mangelburg, T., Bristol, T. (1998). Socialization and adolescents' skepticism toward advertising. Journal of Advertising, 27(3) 11-21

In this study, the authors explore the influences of parents, peers and television on adolescents' skepticism towards advertising. Gathering 296 survey responses from high school students in 1998 (Gen X Cuspers), the researchers attempted to address ten hypotheses regarding teen skepticism and what factors seem to be related to it. Results from the study support the notion that relationships with parents, peers and television usage are strong factors in teens' attitudes toward advertising, as is marketplace knowledge, which is a side effect of socialization. Increased knowledge of the marketplace corresponded with increased advertising skepticism in teenagers.

This study attempts to explain the causes of skepticism among adolescents of [late] Gen X, but does not address generational issues or contrast findings with studies centered on other demographics. However it does provide insight into the underpinnings of consumer skepticism at an early age and provides support for other studies of adolescents and advertising.

Markert, J. (2004). Demographics of age: generational and cohort confusion. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 26(2), 11-25

John Markert proposes a solution to the problem of confusion surrounding the terms "Boomers," "Gen Xers," "Gen Ys," "generation" and "cohort." Marketing professionals and researchers have been using these terms for decades, but with little specific agreement as to what the terms literally mean. Although the surge in live births following World War II is a widely known and understood phenomenon, there is no real consensus on the outer perimeters of this generation, which causes problems defining Gen X and therefore Gen Y. The author proposes 20-year segmenting of the demographics (1946-1965/80.2M; 1966-1985/66.3M; 1986-2005/79.4M), along with a clearer definition of the terms used to describe and categorize them (generation: a 20-year demographic; cohort: a 10-year subset of a generation; bihort: a 5-year subset of a cohort). He also noted the convention of using Core and Cuspers to refer to those individuals born in the center ten or outer ten years of each generation, respectively (e.g. Core Xers).

Quibbling over definitions may seem pedantic, but in the case of marketing research and practice, these distinctions matter a great deal. Some professionals describing "Gen Ys" may be referring to a seven-year group while others using the same term refer to a 21-year group. Even among those who agree on a fixed span of years may have difficulty communicating if they do not agree on which year the Boomer generation began. Markert's work is included here to help clarify definitions used elsewhere in the literature on the subject.

Moore, R., Moschis, G. (1978). Teenagers' reactions to advertising. Journal of Advertising, 7(4) 24-30

Moore and Moschis surveyed 607 middle and high schoolers in this 1975 survey (Late Boomers), to see whether increased television viewing among teenagers shaped their consumer behavior. The results indicate that it does not, that attitudes toward consumption in adolescents is influenced much more heavily by family and peer relationships and their individual buying power than exposure to advertising. The authors indicate this contradicts the conventional wisdom of the time, that increased television viewing has the effect of creating desires and affecting/inspiring consumer behaviors in children. The study also addressed aspects of credibility and message retention in advertisements.

This study was done before the cable explosion of the 80s, availability of the VCR allowing for increased control of one's media consumption and the advent of the Internet in the 90s, giving an insight into the impact of advertising media on teenagers (Boomers) in the absence of these changes in the marketplace.

Morton, L. (2002). Targeting Generation Y. Public Relations Quarterly, 47(2), 43-45

Morton, L. (2003). Targeting Generation X. Public Relations Quarterly, 48(4), 43-45

Moschis, G. (2003). Marketing to older adults: an updated overview of present knowledge and practice. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 20(6), 516-525

The 1946-1965 frame of the Boomers generation, as proposed by Markert (2004) puts Early Cusper Boomers at age 55-60. In 1997, this same bihort was 51-56. Moschis observes that as the Boomers approach retirement age, their sheer numbers will all but force marketers to take note of this consumer segment and its purchasing power. In this paper the author puts forth a number of ways to connect with this demographic and how it differs from younger markets. Before the 1980s this demographic was neglected entirely--Moschis himself seemed to be concentrating his research on teens and adolescents in the 70s--and in the 80s was marketed to clumsily and ineffectively (at best; some advertising was even insulting to this audience) with trial-and-error attempts based on little or no market research. He warns against outmoded stereotypes of older adults, offering a lifestyle segmentation model including "healthy indulgers," "healthy hermits," "ailing outgoers" and "frail recluses." He also advises caution when positioning products and services specifically to older customers as this can have the effect of alienating younger ones.

Boomers are about to become the largest population of senior citizens ever recorded, and Moschis has written extensively on this, including the book Gerontographics (1996) in which he details his segmentation model. Moschis relates Boomers closely with the "healthy indulgers" segment, and advises marketers wishing to appeal to Boomers with information-rich advertising, not image-oriented, fast-paced commercials. As Boomers are already highly skeptical and cynical about advertising as it is, it is imperative that advertisers are careful not to alienate or otherwise offend this crucial demographic, particularly when marketing a product with limited value to other demographics.

Pollay, R., Mittal, B. (1993). Here's the beef: factors, determinants and segments in consumer criticism of advertising. Journal of Marketing, 57(7), 99-114

Authors Pollay and Mittal set out to review and further develop research on consumer attitudes on advertising, beginning with a seminal 1968 study which surveyed 1,846 people on seven items pertaining to attitudes toward advertising (Bauer, 1968). These items were grouped into two factors, economic effects and social effects. These dual-factor benchmarks, created in this study, were employed throughout the 70s and 80s, with many researchers considering them sufficient. Pollay and Mittal however expanded these to seven factors, in order to better pinpoint the foundations of consumer attitudes: product information, social role and image, hedonic pleasure, good-for-the-economy, falsity/no sense, values corruption and materialism. Based on this seven-factor model, they administered 5-point Likert questionnaires to two groups: college students (generally younger) and more mature heads of households.

Although this study did not target specific generations, the researchers did intend to group the two samples by age, looking for disparities between the younger and the older respondents. In the analysis they found that the attitudes of college students--most of which were Gen Xers--were based on economic reasoning, whereas attitudes toward advertising of older adults (mostly Boomers as sampled) mainly came from social concerns. This is consistent with many of the "stereotypical" characterizations of these two generations: Xers being materialistic, motivated by standard of living, and Boomers generally accepted to be more concerned with quality of life.

Rindfleisch, A. (1994). Cohort generational influences on consumer socialization. Advances in Consumer Research, 21(1), 470-476

In this paper Rindfleisch explores the matter of contrasting Boomers with Xers, discussing at length the characteristics of each and issues concerning the segmentation of generations and cohorts. After diagramming a simple model for generational influences on consumer socialization, he gives seven propositions based primarily on census data, previous research and elementary logic about ways in which Xers will behave or think differently from Boomers. For instance, he posits that Xers will be more likely than Boomers to model their behavior after their peers rather than their parents, citing census figures showing dramatically increased divorce rates and the dual-worker family replacing the single-worker family model, resulting in less parental guidance at an early age. He also suggests that dysfunctional consumer behavior (compulsive buying, shoplifting) will be higher among Xers than Boomers. Rindfleisch does not conduct a study, but offers his propositions as a starting point for future research.

Many of Rindfleisch's propositions seem to hold true in other research studies contrasting Boomers and Xers. Roberts/Manolis (2000) confirmed most of his propositions including that of dysfunctional behavior. He also discusses at length the problems with the terms "generation" and "cohort" and that of how to define the Boomer and Xer generations, which Markert (2004) later attempts to clarify.

Ritchie, K. (1995). Sophisticated, cynical, and ‘surfing.' Marketing Tools, 2(3)

Roberts, J., Manolis, C. (2000). Baby boomers and busters: an exploratory investigation of attitudes toward marketing, advertising and consumerism. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 17(6), 481-499

Roberts and Manolis conducted a survey-based mall interception study to examine differences in consumer attitudes toward advertising among Gen Xers (baby busters) and Boomers. Although the sample sizes were not equivalent (437 Boomers, 956 Xers), the researchers felt that the Boomer data set was sufficiently large enough to draw generalizations and compare them with that of the Xers. They discovered that while Boomers regard marketing with a highly critical eye, Xers in general believe marketing is a necessary component of modern society and are less judgmental of marketing and advertising than the previous generation. While Boomers were highly skeptical and more easily offended by advertising, Xers were more accepting of the omnipresent nature of marketing and, while still skeptical, reflected less cynicism toward marketing efforts as did Boomers.

When contrasted with other studies on Boomers and Xers as adolescents, this study indicates that as these generations age, their attitudes about advertising and marketing diverge; Boomers' skepticism turns to cynicsm, while Xers' skepticism becomes ambivalence. Xers, having been raised in a world effervescent with media, accept its presence and choose to engage with it as it suits them.

Robertson, T., Ward, S., Gatignon, H., Klees, D. (1989). Advertising and children: A cross-cultural study. Communication Research, 16(4), 459-485

The authors of this study set out to compare the influences of television advertising on US and UK children with those on Japanese children. The results, published in 1989, segmented the sample into three age groups: 3-4, 5-7 and 8-10, all of which fall into Generation X. 84 American, 65 English and 118 Japanese families with two to four children were included in this study. The researchers hypothesized that due to various cultural differences, Japanese and English parents would have more rules for their kids than American parents (and they did), Japanese children would be less demanding than US/UK children (compared to UK kids, they were, but not compared to US kids), independence of all children would be negatively correlated to rules (supported) yet positively correlated with age (not supported), and the extent to which children are demanding and communicative will be negatively correlated with age (demanding was not, but communication was).

The study basically predicted greater gulfs between western and eastern cultures than was shown by the data, and what the results show indicates that Gen X children in the US, the UK or Japan are affected in very similar ways to television advertising. While Japanese kids watch less TV and are less independent than US or UK kids, they are less demanding and their families report less parent/child conflict over purchase requests. Conversely, US and UK children watch more television and are more independent--especially American kids--and watch more television, which correlates to increased conflict.

Silvers, C. (1997). Smashing old stereotypes of 50-plus America. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 14(4), 303-309

Silvers' 1997 article offers a challenge to advertisers, many of whom are younger than 40, to rethink their opinions of 50+ consumers. He does this by citing a Modern Maturity survey which asked 2,000 American adults what major life-changing events they'd experienced at what ages. He then charted these events, distributing them among four lifestages: Childhood (birth-17), Early Adulthood (18-34), Middle Adulthood (35-49) and Later Adulthood (50+). More major life-altering events, what Silvers calls "shift points," occurred between the ages of 50-59 than at any other decade in life, of those surveyed. This means that this age group--the Boomers--are being forced to reinvent and redefine their roles in life far more often than younger or older people, and as such, they are open to far more marketing opportunities than any other cohort.

The value in Silvers' article extends well beyond looking at shift points of 50-59 year old consumers. He outlines shift points with marketing implications common to all age groups, such as first marriage, first child born, major career change, becoming a grandparent, first child moved out, menopause, loss of parent and so on. He then offers seven distinct profiles of "life-experienced" groups, categorized by their shift points and likely consumer attitudes and habits based on these (with more precise language than Moschis (2003)). Three of the seven had median ages over 50. This is in large part due to the simple volume of the baby boom, but it is an eye-opening number to marketers who routinely ignore the 50+ demographic. Silvers' seven profiles offer a fascinating perspective on the motivations and mindsets of Boomers, Xers and Ys, giving marketers a glimpse into their resultant (likely) consumer behaviors and attitudes.

Sherry, J., Greenberg, B., Tokinoya, H. (1999). Orientations to TV advertising among adolescents & children in the US & Japan. International Journal of Advertising, 18, 233-250

The authors of this 1999 piece studied cross-cultural differences among adolescents in the US and Japan, looking specifically at attitudes towards advertising, parental mediation and viewing habits. Sampling 12- and 16-year olds (Late Xers, Early Ys), groups of children from both countries were surveyed. Results indicated attitudes toward advertising deteriorate as adolescents age, suggesting a change in awareness and/or expectations from advertising to be more informative and less entertaining. Both cultures' teens watched roughly the same amounts of television, although the 12-year old US kids watched more than the 16-year olds; in Japan it was the reverse. Japanese teenagers who felt they had more direct influence on family purchases--this influence also lessens as they age, the study found--also tended to hold advertising in higher regard. Ultimately, teenagers in both cultures shared predominantly negative attitudes towards advertising that grew worse over time.

This research indicates that skepticism of advertising among Gen X/Y, even at a young age, is not localized to the United States, but is endemic to Japan as well and possibly other eastern cultures. Just as the post-WWII baby boom was not a phenomenon contained in the United States, perhaps the effects of Gen X/Y skepticism and increased media sophistication aren't either. This study provides evidence that they are not.

Stepp, C. (1996). The X-Factor. American Journalism Review, 18(9), 34-38

Syrett, M. & Lammiman, J. (2004). Advertising and millennials. Young Consumers, 5(4), 62-73.

Wolburg, J. & Pokrywczynski, J. (2001). A psychographic analysis of generation Y college students. Journal of Advertising Research, (September/October), 33-52.

These authors conducted a study of 368 randomly-selected college students regarding attitudes on media, advertising and self-identity. Their findings indicate the influence of a number of factors on Gen Y students, including introversion/extroversion, gender, and identification with positive and negative Gen X labels. Major media vehicles (television, magazine, newspaper, radio, direct mail, Web, outdoor and posters) were ranked by participants according to their perceived informative value and the degree to which viewers to relate to depictions of their own generation. They also discuss numerous problems with the very labels of Gen X/Gen Y, definitions of applicable age ranges (and the inconsistencies of same among other researchers) and points of divergence from previous generations. The authors are exceptionally thorough, providing numerous charts, background material and 69 references. As with the Maciejewski study, their research was confined to college students, predominantly Caucasian in this case.

Wolburg and Pokrywczynski's work forms the foundation for many definitions and assumptions of Gen X/Y communications studies in research and literature produced since 2001.