When The Greatest Generation Buys

Marketing experts put forth that the buying patterns of customers is largely driven by the era in which they were born. Furthermore, the generations have been defined as the Greatest Generation (1901 to 1911), the Generation of Firsts (1912 to 1921), the Silent Generation (1922 to 1929), the Depression Era Generation (1930 to 1939), the War Generation (1940 to 1945), Baby Boomers I (1946 to 1954), Baby Boomers II (1955 to 1964), Generation X (1965 to 1980), Echo Boomers aka Generation Y (1977 to 1994), Digital Natives aka Millennials (1995 to 2004), and Generation Z aka iGeneration or Post-Millennials, colloquially referred to as “screenagers” (2005 to present).

Knowing what the dates are for each clearly defined group allows for more detailed insight into the buying patterns for each generation.

The Greatest Generation (1901 to 1911) was born when romantic classical music was at its height and musical impressionism, thanks to composers such as Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and others, was making its mark on culture. Composers relied more on emotions and less on traditional forms so to evoke a softer, dreamier mood in compositions with passages that flowed into each other with less definition as to where each ended and began. Even the more aggressive pieces leaned towards a more passionate arrangement.

This group reached the age of majority as jazz became incredibly popular, with cities such as New York, Kansas City, and Chicago as hot spots for this musical style, with Chicago being the center of jazz.     The harmonies in jazz have their roots in classical music with some of the best jazz bass lines found in the music of Frederic Chopin, and followed the spirit of romantic classical music in the emotion based and not rule based form.

During this era, the economy went through astounding changes and especially in America, society transitioned from the progressive era into the new era. Consumer capitalism, business practices, politics, and more evolved into a modern version. Corporations were structured to become giants in manufacturing, finance, and entertainment. By the time the generation known as the Silent Generation started to arrive, two hundred of the largest corporations in America owned almost fifty percent of America’s total corporate wealth.

Two important words in society were efficiency and permanence. Society held financial security as a key value, and believed in the power of institutions. It was the babies born to the Greatest Generation that built the strongest economy in the history of America. They respected tradition, and enjoyed (and appreciated) being part of large-scale changes.

While very few from the Greatest Generation are still with us these days, the ones who are have set ways of doing business as consumers. They trust businesses that reflect the values of their generation and lean towards businesses that are recognizable (the way romantic classical music is recognizable) while being a little rebellious (the way jazz music is rebellious).

Elyse Bruce

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One Response to “When The Greatest Generation Buys”

  1. When The Generation Of Firsts Buys | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] centuries have been divided into groups with specific group characteristics.  These groups are the Greatest Generation (1901 to 1911), the Generation of Firsts (1912 to 1921), the Silent Generation (1922 to 1929), the […]


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