As a lifelong Marketer, I’m fascinated by sociology and the world events that shape every single person that we meet every day.

I was born in 1971, so I’m 45 years old, but in the depths of my soul, I believe I’m a ‘60s hippie. I love the music, the tie-dye, the freedom and the overall peace, love and rock-n-roll ideology. Clearly my former life danced naked in the mud at Woodstock, on day 2, while Janis belted out “Piece Of My Heart.”

In the 60s you were classified as either a “hippie” or not. Today you’re defined almost solely, as either a bible-thumping, gun-toting, Conservative or a tree-hugging, overly-politically-correct Liberal.

Stereotype vs silent majorityThe Marketer and pseudo-sociologist in me asks, “How did so many in the tie-dye wearing, hippie culture of the ‘60s move towards listening to Rush Limbaugh and supporting the war in Iraq?”

First if we assume the 80/20 rule, probably only 20% of young Americans in the ‘60s could be considered true “hippies.” There was a Silent Majority that had regular jobs and wore regular clothes. That said, the move, over time and maturity, to the Boomer culture being more “centrist” isn’t as surprising.

Here’s a pretty cool study, as you work up psychographics and personas for your next target audience.

If we assume that your political party of choice can reliably plot your leaning on the Liberal/Conservative chart, then check out this study published on the New York Times website on July 7, 2014.

Political leanings of those born in 1949 through timeOf everyone born from 1937, the most Democratic leaning group, when they were under the age of 20, was born between 1947-1957. In other words, the people who were age 12-22 during Woodstock were the most Democratic in recent history. On average, today, most of these age-groups have moved to the political middle.

How? In part, because in ’69, the issue was the government’s intrusion in Vietnam. Today the issue is the government’s intrusion in American’s homes. Many of the same people who didn’t want American interfering in ‘Nam also don’t want the government interfering in their personal lives, today. Limited government was a cornerstone of Reagan Conservatism during 1980, when the ex-hippies would have been about 30 years old.

Pay attention to what happened to people when they were 18 years old.
The same New York Times article states that, “Events at age 18 are about three times as powerful as those at age 40.”

The things that happen to us between the ages of 14-24 shape who we are more than events that happen later in life.

I hope that this will help you understand Boomers a bit better, but it should also be a lesson as we look ahead to our marketing efforts to Millennials and iGen.

  • We all evolve based on our life experiences. Don’t stick a stereotype label on people and think it’s permanent.
  • Pay attention to what was happening in the world when a group was 18 years old.
  • Technology, world events and political narrative shape most of our beliefs. As marketers, we must be keenly aware of all three social drivers.
  • Focus on the Life Stage of each individual to understand their most recent and most immediate future needs.

See “The 8 Life Stages That You Should Market To” in our new book, “Aha Moments.” Get the FREE e-book here. 

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