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Xennials, a label for the unlabeled generation

Ever felt like you have been wrongly labeled ‘Millennial’? Well, chances are you are in fact a Xennial. Since the early days marketers have the urge to label people, especially when it comes to describing consumer cohorts born and living in about the same times. Based on your age, you will be placed in a generation bucket labeled Babyboomer, Generation X, Millennial, Generation Z or any other generation cohort descriptor. And although you might detest receiving a generation tag, reading about your membership cohort will often trigger a recognizable, shared ‘aha’ feeling. Well, at least for most of us….

Some just simply feel stuck in between generations, like those born in the late seventies or early eighties. Although a theoretical framework will place them in the Generation X or Millennial bucket respectively, these ‘forgotten middle children’ share neither the optimism of Generation Y nor the pessimism of Generation X. They could be considered as a separate kind, a sort of micro-generation. And guess what… they now also come with a label: meet the Xennials.

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“The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt-wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident,” explains Dan Woodman, a Xennial Associate Professor of Sociology from The University of Melbourne in an interview to Mamamia.

‘Hi Mrs. X, A here … is B home by any chance? Could I get him/her on the line?’ Does this small scenario cause a nostalgic spur? Well then, chances are you are a Xennial. Xennials grew up in times where they first had to talk to their friend’s parents before getting their actual friend on the phone when calling their landline. Meet-ups with friends were scheduled in advance, where they just had to be there; no last-minute texting or whatsapp’ing when being late, or wanting to meet up at a different location.

While their youth was in a sense simple, not having to worry about Facebook likes or Instagram perfect pictures, they did experience the big technological shift during their twenties. They were right within the tech (r)evolution, where they experienced the arrival of the first personal computer inside the home, which was then replaced with laptops and saw how landlines made room for cellphones and, later on, even smartphones.

The clicking and whooshing sound of a modem connecting to the internet is a familiar, nostalgic tone for Xennials that brings them back to the chatting days on ICQ and MSN. Terms like ‘ASL’ (i.e. Age, Sex and Location) are part of their chat dictionary and if you ask them for their first email address, they will probably hit you with a couple of embarrassing nicknames linked to Hotmail extensions.

Xennials, a label for the unlabeled generation

They might not be as tech-savvy as their younger Millennial counterparts, but they are unique in the sense that they grew up right when the offline and the online world met.

So if you ever felt misunderstood as a Millennial, know that from now on you’ve got a new label to go around with. And if you are missing those ICQ days, no worries, as the chat platform is still there with an updated version available for all your devices.


Xennials, a label for the unlabeled generation

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Posted in Insights