Posted in on July 11, 2016

Mature Marketing in an “Us vs. Them” World

A core belief at Creating Results is that true understanding is what leads to creative insight.

We often illustrate this with the analogy of a beach ball.

If I’m holding the beach ball closely, I only can see the color facing me — let’s say, blue. If Beth is holding it, she’ll see the color facing her — let’s say, red.

If Beth and I can’t truly understand that the other person sees a different color, a different perspective, we’ll be prone to Us vs. Them thinking when we what really need is a little Me Plus You. Recognizing there is another side to the beach ball, and working to understand how it impacts communications, is why our marketing programs create results.

This week’s collection of top mature marketing links could be seen through that beach ball. Is there a way to shift these Us vs. Them perspectives?

Timeline depicting the US Baby Boomer generational cohortMOST SHARED: “In praise of those annoying baby boomers.”

The Boston Globe’s Charles P. Pierce recently confessed to being a card-carrying Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964). He then mounted a defense of his generation and its legacy.

“The fact that there are so damn many of us makes generalizing about boomers very difficult, not that everybody and his nephew hasn’t tried. The generation before us thought we were ungrateful wretches. The generations that came after us firmly believe that we’ve gobbled up the economy for the next 40 years.”

From Communism to consumerism, Pierce considers the world that shaped the Boomers and how they have, in turn, shaped the world.

We appreciated two things about the piece:
Timeline graphic - US Silent Generation

  1. Pierce correctly notes that the leaders of most Boomer revolutions — Civil Rights, cultural, musical — were actually members of the Silent Generation. That’s a point Creating Results’ team members make frequently. (Even Martin Luther King, Jr., pictured in the timeline graphic above as a Boomer influence, was born during the Silent Generation.) It’s also why we bristle when everyone over 50 is tarred with the “Baby Boomer” brush.
  2. The author’s call to abandon the World vs. Boomers mentality in favor of one that recognizes “Generations blend.” They push, pull and sometimes pester each other. The beach ball spins and we in turn recognize new colors.

Read the article:

RELATED: Baby Boomer Bashing — I just don’t get it.

Timeline illustrating Generation X - Gen X - in the USMOST CLICKED: “Gen X – Forgotten by marketers, pessimistic about retirement.”

I was born in 1970, which makes me a card-carrying member of Generation X.

I’m in marketing, yet my cohort (born between 1968 and 1979) is virtually ignored by marketers.

(Seriously. They’ve got Gen Y hotel chains and Boomer magazines. Can you recall the last major campaign that targeted Gen X?)

Much of our Us. vs. Them challenges come from the fact that we are sandwiched between two very large Thems. It can be hard to see my little group when the two big “Me” generations are blocking the view.

As noted in a recent Destination CRM profile:

“Being stuck in the middle is a theme for the generation statistically, as it serves to bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials in areas such as racial and ethnic makeup, political and social attitudes, and technology use.

In terms of racial and ethnic makeup, Gen X is 61 percent white, compared to the less diverse (72 percent white) Boomers and more diverse (57 percent white) Millennials. About one-fifth (21 percent) of Gen Xers are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 16 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of Millennials. When it comes to marriage, 36 percent of Gen Xers are hitched, compared to 48 percent of Boomers and 26 percent of Millennials.”

Apparently two things make us unique:

  1. Our pessimism about being able to afford retirement. 44% of Generation X lacks confidence that we’ll save enough. Higher than any other age group. Sigh.
  2. Our belief that we’re not actually unique. Boomers and Millennials think they are distinct. Gen X, not so much. Sigh.

Read the profile:

MOST TIMELY: “Caregivers Say: Pay Attention to Us”

Gen Xers also are sandwiched between caring for children and caring for our parents. But that, also, is not unique to our generation.

Chart - Hours dedicated to family caregiving by age group

The hours required for caregiving are increasing for all ages, and those hours actually increase the older people get. They’re caring for spouses, for neighbors, for everyone but themselves.

As Richard Harris recently reported from a national conference on caregiving, the amount of support given these heroes has not kept pace. Harris quoted AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins:

“We’re quickly coming to realize at AARP that in many cases, people will be spending more time and resources caring for their aging parents than they did raising their own children. And the simple fact is that the public and private sector policies on family caregivers have not kept pace with the changing family dynamic in our nation.”

The conference goal was to get Them (legislators) to realize that caregivers are Us and to find new ways to support Us. Sadly, Harris’ piece suggests that it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Perhaps it’s time to send your congressperson a beach ball and a sternly-worded note?

Read the article:


If you’d like to send us a note — sternly worded or otherwise, please use the comments section below. We’d love to learn about the color on your side of the beach ball!


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