BBH Labs Report Says Generational Grouping Isn’t Reliable For Marketing

The “OK Boomer” phrase became a meme for a bit, with even marketing firms and people like king kong sabri suby brushing up on it. This is due to the fact that generational groups (Gen X, Gen Z, Millennials, etc.) are used for grouping respondents in data.

However, a recently-published report from the British global advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty argued that these labels don’t actually help marketers and advertisers like king kong sabri suby much, as the only thing people in these groups have in common is being born within two decades of one another. BBH Labs’ researchers say that this means that these labels don’t actually offer much insight as to how customers think and behave, which is what groupings in data is really for.

The researchers used group cohesion score to get an idea of the relative like-mindedness of a group of people in order to see what the average majority viewpoint is within these collectives. The research took a look at 419 lifestyle statements, covering things like generation, preferred foods, and social inclinations.

The BBH Labs’ study found that passions, habits, and temperaments were the ones that united people the best and, in turn, led to better group cohesion scores. Specifically, generational groupings like Baby Boomers, Gen Zs, and the like were outdone in cohesion by groups like Extroverts, and Crossword Fans.

BBH LA Chief Strategy Officer Ben Shaw wrote down on the report that anyone who takes a look at trend reports using generations as the point of reference will notice that they’re heavily conflicted, bordering on straight-up paradoxical. Fittingly, he says, these manage to be both accurate and misleading, as the contradictions in generations happen on a group level, not on an individual one.

They are calling for changes in labelling, as the COVID pandemic has moved the e-commerce field by about half a decade.

Initiative strategist Camille Gray, who has handled clients like Amazon Australia, says that marketing should look at other labels and groupings, like attitudinal or cultural marks. She says that it’s time to look at things that are similar between people, not what’s different, and to look at data more closely to eradicate false assumptions regarding customer behaviours and inclinations, particularly about tying them to generational groupings.