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Generation Explanation

Selling to boomers

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Back in 1988, pre-Jada and -ID4 Will Smith had his first hit song, "Parents Just Don't Understand." We laughed and acknowledged our survival of similar situations--getting busted for using the car without permission, parents dressing us in styles from the previous decade. But a funny thing happened: Even though we're older now and starting our own families, we still don't understand our parents.

Gen X and Gen Y have led an entirely different existence than our boomer predecessors. Life without a PC or VCR? May as well have been born in the Dark Ages. Watergate? Oh yeah, I saw that movie Dick. OK, maybe the differences aren't that extreme, but J. Walker Smith, president of research firm Yankelovich and author of Rocking the Ages: The Yankelovich Report on Generational Marketing (HarperBusiness, $15, 800-331-3761), offers this politically correct explanation of generations: "Baby boomers grew up as the Watergate generation: The more you find out, the more you want to know. Xers grew up as the Iran-Contra generation: The more you find out, the less you know. And echo boomers [Gen Y] are the Monica Lewinsky generation: The more you find out, the less you want to know."

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