Nov 21, 2014

Ever Wonder Where Generational Names Come From? Here's the Answer

I'm sure you're familiar with generational names.  If not, here are the most popular. 
  • Silent / Greatest Generation - born between 1927 & 1945
  • Baby Boomers - born between 1946 & 1964
  • Generation X - born between 1965 & 1980
  • Generation Y / Millennials - born between 1981 & 2000
  • Generation Z / Boomlets - born after 2001
Obviously the names reflect characteristics of their time in history and what shaped them.  If you want detailed information about why they received their name, you can read about it in this post.

But did you ever wonder WHO comes up with the names and how they stick?  Here's the answer.

Peter Francese , a demographic and consumer markets expert,  says Baby Boomers were the first named generation to exist.  The Greatest Generation that fought in World War II was named retroactively.

It all started when the Census Bureau referred to the years between 1946 and 1964, during which birthrates rocketed up from around 3 million a year to over 4 million a year, as the "Post War Baby Boom."  Hence the name "Baby Boomers."  This would be the first and last time a generation's "official" name would come from a government organization.

The rest came from ad agencies.  Ad agencies wanted a new name they could use to target the next generation of consumers.  So they began throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck.  Some names stuck and some didn't.

What was the deciding factor?  Whether or not media organizations started using the name.  If media groups like the Associated Press or Reuters picked up the name, then it stuck.

And that's how generations get named.

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