How Are Generational Cohorts Determined?

target-marketing-strategiesWhat works from a messaging standpoint isn’t equally clear for each generation. Because generations tend to resolve over time, as their members develop and adapt, younger generations are not as well-understood as older ones.

The definition process is not formalized or rigidly defined. Instead generational lines trace the contours provided over time by multi-researcher, multi-factor consensus. Pew Research’s article on “The Whys and Hows of Generations Research,” describes the process of definition used there. The and gives, “a range of factors,” used in this process, “including demographics, attitudes, historical events, popular culture, and prevailing consensus among researchers.

”This means that, “the lines that define the generations are useful tools for analysis, but they should be thought of as guidelines, rather than hard-and-fast distinctions,” says Pew Research. However, utilities can still benefit by understanding the generational cohorts their customers fall into even if the lines between those segments do not resolve to the razor sharpness and diamond hardness necessary to reflexively or mechanistically apply that understanding.

There is some conflicting information about generations, and utilities may need to do some testing to find out which researcher is right, or what applies to customers in their service area.

Instead of stopping with a broad-brush understanding, utilities should take continually refine their understanding of customers. Any messaging platform worth its salt should help utilities do this. For example, at Brilliency we specialize in engaging utility customers in ways that improve satisfaction and support making behavioral changes that utilities and their customers want to change.

Request a consultation to see how Brilliency uses analytics to tune messaging, and to learn more about valuable tools that help you improve your target marketing strategies to build better relationships with your utility customers. 

Multigenerational Messaging is Mandatory

Because utilities serve almost everyone in a given geographic area, they will usually need to reach people of all ages. Before effectively engaging an audience, though, it is necessary to understand it, and a key to that is understanding the audience’s values. In the following posts, we present an overview of research about each generation.

In order to understand their values, we consider some of the major events that influenced each generation’s formative years. Our goal is not to take a position on any historical events or policy issues, or to tackle a comprehensive historical understanding of American, let alone World, history. Instead, our goal is to give utilities enough of a starting point to open communications effectively. We think that some sense of the origins of each generation’s values will help with that. Finally, we highlight some information particularly relevant to utilities and infer some messaging application points.

Overview of the Generations

The vast majority of utility customers are in four generations with a fifth just starting to enter the stage utility market as young adults. This overview of generations provides some context for a deeper discussion of each of them. It may be useful to return here while reading.


With this information in mind, we turn to the generations in chronological order. Starting with The Silent Generation and ending with a look ahead at Generation Z, the oldest members of which are starting move out and become utility customers. Some already own homes, as we’ll see.

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Additional Sources