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BizReport : Research : July 24, 2008

What's the difference between Gen X and Gen Y?

The differences between Gen X and Gen Y’s use of digital technology have been made a little clearer, thanks to a recently released report from Forrester Research. The new insights should help marketers play the advertising generation game.

by Helen Leggatt

In what is being touted as “the largest ongoing survey in the world to explore consumer attitudes, ownership, and use of technology”, Forrester claim to have hit on the big difference between the way Gen X (29-42 year olds) and Gen Y (18-28 year olds) use technology.

Gen Y, they say, are the true online natives and have integrated technology into their everyday lives. They spend more time online than Gen X, watch more online video and text message more often. Technology forms a major part of their entertainment and socializing.

"Gen Y is the audience that most companies are struggling to understand right now because it's key to their future revenue growth," said Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Gen X, on the other hand, tends to use technologies that support their lifestyle needs such as online banking and online shopping. They have hectic lives, with careers and families, and embrace the convenience of digital. While the number of Gen X’s reading blogs and using social media is rising, they still fall behind those younger than them.

Another way to looking at the difference in data is lifestage. Youngsters are often less concerned with organizing their affairs, financial for example, have more spare time to spend online than perhaps a Gen X with a family and may have less disposable income.

And let’s not forget, for some Gen Y’s, digital technology is all they have known. I suddenly feel very old.

Tags: digital technology, Gen X, Gen Y, online shopping

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  • Lia

    Good comparison, I believe that does in fact sum it up in its basics, that was what I was looking for. Most people born in the late 70s will find themselves in between.. from experience.

  • Brian Myers

    It's important to remember that just because Gen X doesn't use technology the same way as Gen Y that this doesn't mean they are not capable of it. Gen X is the transition between the generations, they remember both not having technology and having technology. These generations actually use technology differently based on their needs. If Gen X had text messaging in their late teens and 20's they would have been using it too... and when Gen Y is raising families they'll be using technology similarly to how Gen X is using it today.

  • seahr


  • Shan X

    Depends where on earth you live. I know a few teenagers from Africa who are actually quite frightened of technology, and my girlfriend who is 22 doesn't know how to use common computer software like Word or Excel. I'm a 32 year old software engineer, and I am part of a workforce that is building the social networking apps that Gen Y is using. Be careful not to marginalize. But yeah, on a large aggregate, this article is true for OECD countries I'd say.

  • Gen. AaX

    Don't you see the blessing ?? We have more control and should help the gen Y (those who wants to) to realize this fact away from their pretentious sophistication. We use technology not identify as it.



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