Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mrs. Jones

I'm at the peak of a generation that has been dominating the landscape for the past twenty years. Why then do I feel like I'm barely seen or heard?

I've been complaining of my invisibility for a while now. But when I looked hard at it I have come to the uncomfortable realization that I am sitting in the middle of the dominating generation. I know so because of statistics, baby. Here's the StatsCan pyramid contrasting 1996 to today.

If the population pyramid were a slope-headed Inca, my generation sits on the tip of the nose. Being female, I also manage to edge out the men of my generation.

By Unknown / restoration and digitization. Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

So why do I feel invisible, unheard? I had blamed the baby boomers most of my life. Technically I am a boomer, but the great majority (Zoomers now) were older than me. I've felt like the kid sister at the party, where plans and benefits were doled out long before I got there.

For instance, is it any coincidence that Old Age Security eligibility changes just as I am scheduled to get there?

I don't identify with the boomers, as they slide gracefully along the golden retirement path. And I'm older than their Gen X children, chinning themselves up to the bar. It's generation Jones that I identify with most strongly, shared with Obama (yay!) and Michael J. Fox (double yay!). Apparently my generation is watched closely by marketers and pollsters, as we tend to swing. An edge of bitterness could very well leave a representative voter/consumer with my nose, and a tad cynical. I imagine bitter and cynical voters keep their voting choices close to their chest.

If my generation makes up the lump of available voters and consumers, are our interests very well understood? I've seen the marketing change from "anti-cavity" in my youth to "whitening" in my maturity. There's plenty of anti-aging marketing out there. And promises of freedom on the road. The boomers sure have been good to the motorcycle and recreational vehicle markets.

Are middle-aged women represented in mass media? I don't think so. Meryl Streep is Zooming along, but even for her generation she's token rather than the norm. Oh, and Betty White, bless her.

There's a commercial making the rounds right now that grates me every time it plays. A young man (Gen X?) is handing over the house keys to.... it's got to be mom, right?

It's a Sonnet commercial. Mom looks tired, beaten. Shaggy son comes through A paid-off home? What in the heck has my generation been doing for the past twenty years? Do we really look that worn out? Bitter and cynical doesn't mean beaten.

It seems to me that the days of being a passive consumer are over. This woman wants to be heard. If marketers are seeking to understand, watch the crocheted pussy hat movement. Or something similar. We might have moved on already.