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Challenging the use of generational segmentation through understanding self-identity

Sarah Gardiner (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Debra Grace (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Ceridwyn King (School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 21 October 2013

3502

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore congruency between the self-identity of Baby Boomer, Generation X and Generation Y consumers with the generational label and popularised identity of each generational cohort.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected using a mixed methods approach of focus groups (n=49) followed by an online survey (n=627) of Baby Boomer, Generation X and Generation Y consumers. Focus group data were thematically analysed. Descriptive, ANOVA and factor analysis was conducted on the survey data.

Findings

The results show that most consumers only have a vague association with their generational label and profile and find it easier to characterise generations that are different to their own. Generation self-identity congruency is greater among members of the Baby Boomer cohort compared to the younger generations. Yet, even in the Baby Boomer cohort, generational identity is not homogenous among its members.

Practical implications

The results challenge the explicit use of generational labels and stereotypes in marketing strategy.

Originality/value

Given the immense interest and application of generational cohort segmentation, understanding whether and why consumers identify with cohort labels and profiles is critical. The paper questions the longevity of generational cohort analysis given the limited understanding and relevance of this concept to consumers.

Keywords

Citation

Gardiner, S., Grace, D. and King, C. (2013), "Challenging the use of generational segmentation through understanding self-identity", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 639-653. https://doi.org/10.1108/MIP-06-2012-0062

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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