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Millennials are the Best-Read Generation

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Generations can be confusing. This page is dedicated to answering common questions about generations and to give context to bigger generational conversations on topics such as differences, similarities, and trends in employment, shopping, voting, and more. If we don’t answer your question here, send us an email or give us a call and we’ll do our best to help! Just think of us as your go-to nerd for all things generations.




1. What is the definition of a generation?

A generation is a group of people born around the same time and raised around the same place. People in this “birth cohort” exhibit similar characteristics, preferences, and values over their lifetimes. At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we believe that generations are not a box; instead, they are powerful clues showing where to begin connecting with and influencing people of different ages. We specialize in the relationship between geography and generations. Millennials, for example, are the most consistent generation globally. However, we still see important differences between Millennials raised in an urban environment versus those raised in a rural one or those who move to a new country.


2. What makes generations consistent at a high level?

Generations exhibit similar characteristics—such as communication, shopping, and motivation preferences—because they experienced similar trends at approximately the same life stage and through similar channels (e.g., online, TV, mobile, etc.). Generation-shaping trends are most influential as people come of age, which means that members of a particular generation will develop and share similar values, beliefs and expectations. It is important to remember that at an individual level, everyone is different. But looking at people through a generational lens offers useful predictability for those trying to reach, inform or persuade a large cross-section of a population.


3. What does The Center for Generational Kinetics do?

At The Center, we study generations and their behaviors to identify the following:

  • What shaped each generation
  • The current characteristics, thought processes, expectations and preferences for each generation
  • Where generations are heading in the near and long-term future.

Creating an accurate snapshot of generations, where they come from, where they are now and where they're heading helps our team drive results for clients and inform larger conversations around the workforce, marketplace and social norms.


4. What makes studying generations interesting and different?

The Center for Generational Kinetics gets to uncover all kinds of new generational trends and truths. It’s exciting stuff! We uncover these findings through quantitative and qualitative research and by analyzing data provided to us by brands, employers and industries across the globe. We analyze the findings in the context of our own database, publicly available data and other research studies. Thanks to technology, generations are creating more data than ever before. We use all that information to provide rich insights, strategies, stories and solutions.


5. What are the primary generations today?

Currently, five generations make up our society. Each of those five generations has an active role in the marketplace. Depending on the specific workplace, the workforce includes four to five generations. Here are the birth years for each generation:

  • iGen, Gen Z or Centennials: Born 1996 and later
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before


6. Why do I see different birth years in different places?

The reason you see different birth years is two-fold:

  • People who talk about generations have reached different conclusions—and, frankly, a lot of people don’t do actual research, so they’re just guessing.
  • Generation birth years vary by geography, and you’ll see varying characteristics in different parts of the world. The big events that affect a generation can be dramatically different across the globe or at least regionalized or national in scope, and trends can hit at different times.

For example, being a Millennial in Athens, Greece, with its current unemployment situation, can lead to different expectations and behaviors than being a Millennial in Austin, Texas at the exact same time, where the job market is fantastic. The more you focus on one geography and one set of birth years, the more accuracy you’ll find.


7. What do we know about the newest generation, the iGen (also known as Generation Z and the Centennials)?

The end of the Millennials and the start of the iGen in the United States are closely tied to September 11, 2001. That day marks the number-one generation-defining moment for Millennials. Members of the iGen generation—also known as Gen Z or Centennials, they're born in 1996 and after—cannot process the significance of 9/11, and it’s always been a part of history for them. The Center is currently conducting research on this newest generation, and we will be releasing interesting findings in the near future!


8. What are three key trends that shape generations?

The three key trends that shape generations are parenting, technology and economics. For example, many Baby Boomers have the parenting philosophy, “We want it to be easier for our kids than it was for us.” This philosophy in turn helped create and reinforce Millennials’ sense of entitlement, which is now a hotly debated topic.


9. Why are Millennials getting so much attention now?

In the last two years, Millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Millennials are also the fastest-growing generation of customers in the marketplace, bringing the greatest lifetime value. In addition, Millennials exhibit different attitudes toward employment, sales and marketing, which are challenging many conventional strategies and approaches. No wonder everyone’s talking about Millennials—are they really different? How and why are they different? What can employers, marketers, politicians, educators, and parents do?

Now Millennials have something to look out for, too: the next generation. Known as iGen, Generation Z or Centennials, this new group of people are making big waves in all the ways a generation possibly could—including parenting, education, employment, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, politics, religion and more. 


10. Where can I get the latest generational research?

Subscribe to our e-newsletter, and you’ll get our latest findings in addition to other findings we think are important. You can also read the stories at or contact us. We are here to help!