generation gap

What is a generation gap?

A generation gap is the divide that separates the beliefs and behaviors of members belonging to two different generations. More specifically, the generation gap can be used to describe the differences in thinking, behavior, and tastes between younger and older generations.

Differences may be in areas such as politics, values, and popular culture. While generation gaps have been prevalent throughout history, these generation gaps vary by 20 and 21stone century.

key takeaways

  • The generation gap is defined as the different ideas and worldviews held by different generations.
  • Generation gaps between individuals can be used to explain the observed differences in worldviews and behaviors between different age groups.
  • The current generation alive is the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z.
  • Businesses often aim to understand the different characteristics of each generation to better create and market their products and services.
  • Employers seek to bridge the generation gap within the workplace by adopting a variety of technologies.

Understanding the Generation Gap

The generation gap plays an important role in business. This is because in order to sell to different groups, companies must try to balance the needs and perspectives of the individuals in those groups. Businesses must be aware of the changing demographics and genders of their customer base, which can impact their business cycle and bottom line.

The term “generation gap” first appeared in the 1960s. During this period, baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 became increasingly different from their parents in beliefs and opinions.

Sociologists use nomenclature to refer to different generations. For example, members of Gen Z who were born between 1996 and 2012 are known as “digital natives” because they have used digital technology throughout their lives.

In contrast, older generation members are known as “digital immigrants” and tend to be less comfortable with personal use of technology. So tech companies sell to each age group differently.

Generational segments go by other handles: The Greatest Generation is also known as the “Radio Babies”; the Silent Generation is also known as the “Traditionalists”. Baby boomers are also known as the “me” generation.

How generations are distinguished

The current generation of living has been divided into the following six categories:

  1. the greatest generation
  2. silent generation
  3. baby boomers
  4. Generation X
  5. millennials
  6. Gen Z

Each generation has its own characteristics in terms of dialect, technological influence, work attitude, general awareness and way of life.

the greatest generation

As survivors of the Great Depression and World War II, they were instrumental in shaping the United States as an economic and military power. This group is defined by patriotism, teamwork and motivation. They were born from 1901 to 1927.

silent generation

The older members of the Silent Generation, born between 1928 and 1945, fought in South Korea, while the younger generation danced to Elvis and early rock and roll, formed the leaders of the civil rights movement, and was President Kennedy’s New Frontier Generation. They are more traditional and rule-abiding than baby boomers, and they are also known as the traditionalist generation, although that may be a misnomer for this group.

baby boomers

They have witnessed increasing social and economic equality and have grown as the nation is divided by differing views on politics, war, and social justice. In the 1960s and 1970s, baby boomers participated in some of the most significant social changes in the country’s history through the civil rights and women’s movements.

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen-Xers grew up with emerging technologies and political and institutional ineptitude. They witnessed Watergate, Three Mile Island and the Iran hostage crisis. But they also observed major technological advancements. Mimeographs evolved into high-speed copiers, and fax machines gave way to e-mail. The bulky adding machines were replaced by hand-held calculators, which shrank in size and processing speed.


Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 have always been familiar with cable TV, pagers, answering machines, laptops and video games. Technological advancements in real-time media and communications have driven their expectations of immediacy. They are the generation that bridged the growth gap in the world before and after the internet.

They also experienced countless tragedies in their youth, such as the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008, hurting their long-term financial prospects.

Those born on the fringes of Generation X and Millennials are sometimes called X-ennials

Gen Z

Generation Z is the next generation after millennials, born between 1996 and 2012. This generation is made up of youth, teenagers and children. This is a fact of life for the first generation to see the internet as a fact of life, they don’t know a world without email, instant access to information or mobile phones.

Gen Zers are more likely to be the children of immigrants than millennials: 22% and 14%, respectively.

Gen Z is expected to do well financially, growing in a strong economy. The economic crisis of 2020 has upended this stability, and what happens next remains to be determined. This generation is racially and ethnically diverse and similar to millennials in social and policy beliefs. Both generations are progressive and both believe in social equality and the importance of climate change.

special attention items

Understanding the different generations is critical for businesses to understand who they should be selling to and how. The first step is to understand what your business offers and who your target audience is. From there, learning the best way to sell to them, without involving stereotypes, is an important step toward success.

Businesses must stay true to their identities. For example, if a company is not considered hip or young, then using the term hip or young to market to Gen Z can be seen as inauthentic and can be counterproductive.

Millennials and baby boomers are the largest generation. Baby boomers are also the wealthiest, while millennials are entering middle age and will have more wealth to spend. Understanding these types of characteristics of a generation will help with marketing. Also, it can be helpful to know what these generations need at some point.

For example, baby boomers are about to retire or retire, so the retirement aspect when marketing a product might help. Millennials are fairly young, in their 20s and 40s, so tackling topics like buying a home or first car or starting a family may appeal to them.

Additionally, businesses need to know where to market. Baby boomers grew up without smartphones or the internet. While many are tech-savvy, many still read physical newspapers and watch cable TV. If you’re marketing to baby boomers, this might be an area to consider.

Gen Z, on the other hand, grew up with smartphones and tablets, so digital marketing to them would be a smart move.

Generation Gap FAQ

What is a generation gap?

Generation gaps are the thoughts, beliefs and ideologies that separate one generation from the next. These can include beliefs about politics, business, race, and popular culture.

What causes the generation gap?

The generation gap is only created by age and the state of the world as a generation grows up. For example, people who grew up during World War II may not have the same beliefs and perceptions as those who grew up in the 1960s—though, to be sure, the similarities remain.

What is the generation gap called?

Some of the different generation gaps are Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

Is the generation gap no longer a divide?

There is a lot of research on this topic. There will always be different generations, simply because people were born at different times. Likewise, the world and society are always changing, which can inadvertently change the perception of individuals, depending on the period in which they grew up. Research has also shown that the differences in the generation gap are small. Individual differences also play a role, as do socioeconomic factors.

How do we bridge the generation gap?

There are ways to bridge the generation gap in certain situations in the workplace. Encouraging multigenerational teamwork is one strategy. Creating clear cultural values, such as emphasizing the importance of the quality of work, rather than where the work is done (office vs. remote), is another matter. Incorporating the many communication channels that work for all, organizing a mentoring program, and emphasizing respect above all else are also useful tools.

bottom line

The generation gap consists of different beliefs about politics, religion, society, and popular culture that exist between different generations. These beliefs are shaped by the state of the world in which individuals grow up belonging to each generation.

Businesses often try to understand different generations so they can successfully create and market products. Businesses are also trying to understand these differences in order to close the generation gap between employees, hoping to create a cohesive and productive workplace.

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