Micro-Generation? “Xennials?”

Posted On July 3, 2017

Ever felt like you didn’t fit within your generation? Or maybe that you fit in parts of more than one?

If you were born between 1977 and 1983, an Australian sociology professor believes you’re right.

Dan Woodman, an associate sociology professor at the University of Melbourne, believes people born during that time frame don’t fit neatly into either Generation X or millennials. They are instead, he says, a micro-generation all their own – one that he calls Xennials.

Woodman, who was born in 1980 and is part of this micro-generation, described it to Australian lifestyle site MamaMia.com as a mix between Gen-X skepticism and millennial idealism, a generation of people who didn’t grow up with cell phones or the internet, but were still young enough during the digital technology boom that they could easily adapt to it as young adults.

“It was a particularly unique experience,” Woodman told MamaMia. “You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones. … Then we hit this technology revolution before we were maybe in that frazzled period of our life with kids and no time to learn anything new. We hit it where we could still adopt in a selective way the new technologies.”

The idea of micro-generations or split generations is not new. Baby Boomers, for instance, have often been subdivided into Leading Edge Boomers, or those born in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, and Echo Boomers, born in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Leading Edge Boomers who grew up with the sock hops and drive-ins of the 1950s and were entering adulthood in the 1960s may not have much in common with Echo Boomers, some of whom became the Yuppies of the 1980s.

The bigger takeaway here is that while generations seek to define the characteristics or tendencies of a group of people born during a particular era, the motivations, beliefs and attitudes of individuals within each generation are going to vary – and sometimes vary wildly. That’s what makes them individuals.

Despite these variances, generational constructs are useful in marketing and management – they can help us figure out how to work with, or sell to, people of these different groups. It will be interesting to see if further studies can tell us more about how Xennials differ from millennials in their buying habits, workplace behavior and general attitudes.

It won’t likely cause us to drastically alter our marketing plans or management styles toward the younger generations, but it may allow us to focus our efforts a little more sharply between the two demographics.

Meanwhile, from a personal perspective, any of us can look at the attributes said to characterize our generation and find some that don’t apply to us. For instance, while Generation X is known as the “slacker” generation, I contend that I was born in a subset of Gen-X that I’ll refer to as “go-getters with slacker tendencies after 5 p.m.”

If you fit into the Xennial demographic, I suppose it allows you to laugh off the “entitled” epithet hung on millennials and ignore the disaffected skepticism and slackerism associated with Generation X and be your own person. But of course, anyone else – of any generation – can do the same.

Categories: Generation X, Generation Y / Millennials, Generations