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Addressing the generation gap – junior millennials vs. senior millennials

Millennials have been studied and targeted by marketers, but there is a tremendous difference between a senior millennial and a junior millennial.

working millennial privilege

Beards, Uber, and roommates, oh my!

Imagine a scene where two friends are sitting down at a cafe, sipping sustainable coffee and discussing beard wax ingredients while waiting for their Uber to arrive. They are most likely posting their lattes on Instagram, updating their Tumblrs, and responding to another friend’s Snapchat while they carry on their conversation.

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It’s possible that one of these friends is going to be dropped off at his parents’ house, where he still lives, and the other friend is sharing an apartment with a few roommates near his liberal arts college.

Junior millennials versus senior millennials

It isn’t hard to pinpoint which generation these friends belong to; millennials are synonymous with social media, multitasking, artisan products, specialty brands, expensive educations and house and ride sharing. However, within the millennial generation is a wide demographic. While many junior millennials can relate, or perhaps see themselves in this scene, senior millennials can be far removed from any of these stereotypes.

Although there is still a lack of universal consensus on the timeline for when millennials were born, we opt to observe the most widely accepted definition, stating that millennials were born between 1981 and 2000. This means that Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1980, and Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1960.

Oregon Trail and AOL vs. iPhones and wifi

Every generation experiences some kind of overlap, where it might be hard to distinguish one generation from the next (when groups are born on one end of the timeline spectrum). This is especially true for millennials, though. Senior millennials–those of us born closer to 1980 than 2000, have experienced a completely different childhood and adolescence than junior millennials–those born between 1991 and 2000.

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For instance, while senior millennials were raised on Oregon Trail and AOL chat, junior millennials grew up with an iPhone in their pocket and were punished by mom withholding the WiFi password. In the last 25 years, technology has advanced at such a pace that the divide between senior and junior millennials is phenomenally broad, at some points pushing senior millennials closer to a Gen X mindset than a typical millennial mindset.

More factors are at play here

Besides technology, there is the reality of 9/11 (which senior millennials can recall clearly), and the economy crash of 2008 (which directly affected senior millennials, just emerging from high school and college and entering the workforce).

These factors, along with differences in trends, parenting styles and fiscal habits, have created quite a schism within the generation. This schism affects the way that senior and junior millennials view each other; it affects the way that the generation is represented; it affects the way that brands are (or should be) marketed; it affects workplace and family dynamics. 

Digging deeper into the overlap

While the millennial generation in general has been explored at length, there aren’t a lot of discussions around what it means to be a senior vs junior millennial.

We are going to return to this topic and would love to hear from you (in the comments below).

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If you are a millennial, can you identify with one side of the spectrum or the other? Are you a junior millennial, frustrated by the perception that the world has of you? Are you a senior millennial, uneasy about relating to millennial stereotypes? Are you outside of this generation, making observations and puzzled by the complexities that you see? 

Or maybe–it could be that you’re just tired of all of the bearded folks on their phones taking up space at your local coffee shop? I mean, really, it is a little much.

#SrMillennials

Written By

Amy Orazio received her MFA in Creative Writing at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. She lives in Portland now, where she is enjoying the cross section of finishing her poetry manuscript and writing for The American Genius.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Phoenix Association of REALTORS® » Don’t Box Yourself In: Market to Everyone, Not Just Millennials

  2. Jonathan

    July 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Amy,
    I was thinking about the phrase “Senior Millennial Management”. And decided to google if there was something out there. Your article came up (#1).
    I read it thinking, “This person gets it!”.
    I then think, “I need to share this with the Expression58 group soon”.

    THEN I SEE YOU ARE THE AUTHOR!

    Spooky!

    To answer your question: I’m a junior millennial trapped in a senior millennial’s body. And I despise the millennial stereotype.

  3. Kameron

    July 11, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    This is a really interesting article! Thanks for posting! There’s a lot to be considered here for sure.

    For instance, for me, it’s not whether I’m a Junior Millennial v. Senior, because frankly I’m the opposite of Jonathan, a Senior Millennial trapped in a Junior Millennial’s body having been raised in family with two Senior Millennial older brothers. My parents didn’t raise me differently because I was born 4 years later which is why a lot of my memories/thoughts/etc skew to the Senior Millennial category. It would be interesting to add the “Multi-Millennial” category to the family dynamics section of something like this for both people like me and vise versa and how much your family dynamics play into your category of millennial.

    That being said, definitely frustrated with the Junior Millennial stereotype even though I know I play into it occasionally.

    Thanks for reading my short novel of a comment! Hope it makes sense!

  4. Paul

    July 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I’m henceforth referring to myself as a Retired Millennial.

  5. Pingback: I am the world's oldest millennial: exploring our generation's overlaps - The American Genius

  6. Pingback: Millennial home buying hype is still alive & well, but don't get too caught up

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