When The Generation Of Firsts Buys

The generations in the 20th and 21st 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 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).

The Generation of Firsts (1912 to 1921) was born at a time when some of the greatest advancements in society were made:  the first airplane flight, the first trans-Atlantic radio transmission, the first parachute, the first moving assembly line, the first traffic light, the first ribbon or “velocity” microphone, the first Oreo cookies.  And, of course, the First World War.

Traditional jazz (from which most jazz standards hail) was in its heyday and phonograph records were the number one way of getting music out to the masses.  Yes, record sales left sheet music and piano roll music sales in the dust, and the job of song plugger came into existence.  Radio was an expensive novelty in most homes, but shortly after this era, it became an inexpensive main staple in homes and businesses.

This group reached the age of majority just as Big Band — another form of jazz — became hugely popular.  Structure was important not only in music but at work, and in society as the world inched towards World War II.  Not only did the style become hugely popular, it eclipsed all other forms of music in terms of popularity.

This generation saw America step into a conservative era with most voters displeased with what they saw as overly optimistic liberal policies that they felt worked against Americans and the American economy.

As with the Greatest Generation, the Generation of Firsts was witness to a number of amazing advancements. Even though America was in debt after the First World War, taxes were reduced to encourage spending and stimulate the economy.  Large tariffs were imposed on products imported into the U.S. which encouraged Americans to buy American made products … a buying ethic that stayed with the children of this generation when they came of age.

Two important words in society for this generation were patriotism (since most of the firsts were from the U.S.A.) and positive outlook.

The Generation of Firsts are some of today’s oldest seniors, and like the generation before them, they have set ways of doing business as consumers.  They lean towards businesses that reflect the values of their generation, leaning towards businesses that are reliable standards (like jazz standards are) and unlikely to waver in their decisions.

Elyse Bruce


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