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Generation Gap: What’s worth our tax dollars?

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

With the “fiscal cliff” looming and potential tax increases on the horizon, it’s interesting to see where Americans of all ages agree (and where they don’t) when it comes to their hard-earned dough being divvied up by the government.

No big surprise, most Americans (71.2%) would rather shrink the size of government than raise taxes. Members of the Boomer Generation (75.9%), Silent Generation (75.2%), Gen X (70.5%) and Gen Y (61.9%) agree. But where should the government cut back?

Members of Generation Y appear most likely among the age groups to opt for a tax increase instead of cutting public services (police, education) or social programs (welfare, Medicare). The Silent Generation seems to agree, while the middle generations are mixed:

Although all generations appear willing to support education and safety, the majority of Gen X and the Boomers would prefer the budget for social programs like welfare get a trim before their paychecks.

Perhaps Gen Y is more likely to support higher taxes because most prefer to be unemployed! Over half (55.2%) say they would rather be unemployed and happy than be employed and miserable. While happiness is great, older generations are more likely to cope with misery if it means food on the table and shelter for their family:

It seems the Boomer Generation is the most likely to opt for employment even if it means unhappiness—perhaps they are housing some unemployed and happy members of the youngest generation!  :)

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, October 2012 #1, N = 3529

© 2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: The “Normal” only appears to be “New” to older Americans

October 23, 2012 1 comment

You’ve heard the phrase “new normal” on the news, during conversation, in reference to the economy, etc…but what does it mean for most Americans? What has truly become part of normal everyday living in post-recession USA?

Most Americans agree that fluctuating gas prices (71.5%), the rising cost of food (63.5%) and high national debt (60.4%) are now normal parts of living in America that we just have to deal with. The slow-growing economy (53.1%) and the hassle of frequently shopping for sales (50.4%) also top the list.

Although fluctuating gas prices top the list of “normal” conditions for all age groups, members of the Silent Generation (83.9%) are more likely than those in Generation Y (57.5%) to say frequent pain at the pump is part of the “new normal.” Youngsters in the U.S. probably don’t remember when gas cost less than a dollar per gallon while those in the Silent Generation might be reminiscing of the good ol’ days when you could buy a gallon or two with the spare change in your pocket.

The generations also differ when it comes to modesty: not surprisingly, fewer members of younger generations notice a difference in the generally accepted code of conduct, while those in older generations are more likely to see a lack of modesty as a recent development in American living.

While the disappointment of deferring purchases is lower on the list of “new normal” situations to cope with, the Boomer Generation is most likely to feel the sting here. 39.6% of Boomers consider pushing off the purchase of a flat screen, vacation home or new car as just another part of living in the U.S. of A. For comparison, only 26.8% of Gen Yers agree.

For more on the “new normal,” head over to the Prosper Now Blog at Forbes.com.

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, October 2012 #1, N= 3529

© 2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: Withdrawing Trust

October 9, 2012 1 comment

Do you trust your bank? Or do you stash your cash inside the mattress? We asked Americans how they felt about their personal bank and the federal banking system. Nearly 3 in 4 (73.8%) said they can count on their local bank while fewer (39.4%) put stock in the U.S. banking system as a whole. Interestingly, trust levels vary by generation:

It seems as though older Americans have more trust in their local bank while youngsters are more trusting of the United States banking system as a whole, compared to other generations.

Gen Yers are also more optimistic that recently announced lower interest rates will help the economy. 31.1% of these young adults are more or much more confident in the housing market as a result of the Fed’s interest rate adjustment. 25.3% say the same about the economy overall along with 23.1% who show a boost of confidence in the job market. Members of Gen X, just one generation older, are less likely to be confident in all three areas:

Perhaps Gen Y is more confident because this age segment is the most likely to take advantage of lower interest rates. 61.2% of members of Gen Y plan to make some type of life change as a result of the Fed’s announcement: 22.4% say they are likely to buy a car, 20.9% are in the market for a home and 20.5% plan to go [back] to school. Most members of older generations do not plan to make any life changes at this time.

For more fresh insights on American consumers, including confidence in the economy, expectations for gas prices and even Election 2012 updates, be sure to check out the complimentary American Pulse™ InsightCenter!

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, September 2012 #2, N=3282

© 2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: Presidential Pop Quiz

June 29, 2012 2 comments

It seems as though Americans were right in saying the quality of education in the U.S. is slipping, and recent American Pulse results support that argument. 66.0% said our children’s knowledge of historical events has gotten somewhat or much worse in the past 10 years. However, it’s not just the children who are forgetting key facts about U.S. history—older generations’ minds are slipping as well, and they don’t have a “failing school system” to blame. The gold stars are few and far between for the Presidential Pop Quiz.

4 in 5 Americans (79.6%) don’t know who wrote the law of the land and is known as the Father of the Constitution. (Seems like an important tidbit that should be remembered instead of pop lyrics, sports stats or a date’s phone number.) Only 20.4% knew that James Madison is the man behind the manuscript that governs our country; most (59.8%) believe Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution. Members of Generation Y, those most recently submerged in the school system, were slightly more likely to pick Madison:

Having lived through a historical event seems to make it more memorable. Older Americans in the Silent Generation were most likely to remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the economic programs known collectively as the New Deal. 87.5% of these wise citizens picked the correct answer vs. 58.9% of the youngsters in Gen Y (still a majority though). Members of the Silent Generation know their assassination history better than other ages as well:

Now for the trick question:

Which president was in office when we landed on the moon?

  • John F. Kennedy
  • Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Richard Nixon
  • Gerald Ford

Did you pick out Nixon? The majority of Americans did not—JFK (36.8%) was the popular choice, likely because he declared in 1961 there would be a moon landing by the end of the decade. A significant number of citizens (27.4%) thought Lyndon B. Johnson was in office when we landed on the moon, since he was in office the same year, 1969 (perhaps a thank you should go out to the Disney show Even Stevens for a catchy tune about that). Overall, roughly one-third (32.3%) picked the right president. Boomers, followed by members of Gen Y, were most likely to name Nixon as the Commander in Chief when the lunar landing took place:

Although it seems factual knowledge of the U.S. presidents is lacking, American citizens have a good idea of which presidents would do the best job handling the current economic situation. Nearly 1 in 4 (23.5%) would bring back Ronald Reagan if they could pick any past or current president to run the country. Older Americans show more support for the former-actor-turned-politician; 30.5% of Boomers and 32.4% of the Silent Generation miss Reagan’s tax cuts, deregulation efforts and ability to sustain general prosperity across the nation. Bill Clinton was the #2 pick for most (#1 for Gen Y). I think it’s safe to say Americans don’t want another scandal, but they would prefer a drop in national debt! The #2 for Gen Y is current president, Barack Obama, third among the general population in presidential popularity.  To see how Obama stacks up in 2012, check out the American Pulse™ InsightCenter™, updated twice a month.

Fun Fact: 13.4% of Gen Yers would like to bring back Abraham Lincoln…because he was a truthful politician or because he hunts vampires? I am scared to know the honest answer to that one…

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, June 2012 #1, N = 3,603

© 2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: Are schooling standards sinking?

June 20, 2012 2 comments

In an election year, important issues are top of mind and above the fold, and I’ve seen all things from the economy, health care, Social Security, gas prices…..but not education. Sadly, the majority of Americans (65.2%) feel the quality of education in the U.S. has gotten somewhat or much worse in the past 10 years. This number increases with age: a whopping 74.8% of the Silent Generation thinks schooling standards have sunk. 74.5% of Boomers, 61.7% of Generation X and 46.5% of Generation Y agree.

Not surprisingly, given our society with such luxuries as T9, auto correct and basic spell check, writing and spelling top the list of suffering subjects along with knowledge of historical events. The majority of Americans also said children’s abilities in the areas of life skills, reading and basic mathematics have gotten worse in the past decade:

Although fewer than the majority think science, vocational skills and creative skills are worse these days than in the past, they certainly aren’t any better. Only 18.2% believe trade/vocational skills are somewhat/much better and just 1 in 5 has seen improvement in children’s understand of scientific principles (20.8%) and creativity (21.9%).

Whether or not technology plays a part in the plunging principles of education is still up in the air. 51.3% of Americans say technology has had both a positive and negative effect on the quality of education—however, general consensus leads towards the positive:

Younger generations are more likely to recognize the positive effects of technology on education (learning basic computer skills, research and data analysis, virtual simulations from bacterial growth to flight imitation). More than one-third of Gen Y (35.5%) say overall technology has had a positive effect on learning. However, Boomers are more skeptical of technology’s educational benefits and may be thinking about how devices like smartphones can take the place of brainwork at times. Slightly more members of this generation (23.1%) believe technology has had a somewhat or very negative affect on education vs. those who say the outcome has been positive (21.7%). Perhaps these older Americans are thinking of things like spell checkers, instant access to the Internet to look up facts and even the ease of plagiarism with the web.

Although the majority has noticed a drop in educational quality, technology does not appear to be the culprit (or at least not the only reason why young Americans can’t spell basic words without the help of auto correct!)

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, June 2012 #1, N = 3603

© 2012, Prosper®

The Award for Best Portrayal of an Ideal Model Family Goes to…

March 28, 2012 1 comment

I remember watching it on TV like it was just last night. Theo sauntered down the steps with his hat and sunglasses on, lip-syncing “Night and Day” by Ray Charles all while the Huxtable family danced in concert in front of him. And when Little Rudy stole the spotlight (“Baby, Baby!”), the live audience roared.

The Cosby Show was a staple in my household growing up in the ‘80s. My sister and I were allowed to watch it because it featured what my mom considered to be a good, wholesome family. Fast forward 25+ years and it seems that the Huxtables are still viewed as the consummate household… According to a March American Pulse™ Survey, the award for best portrayal of an ideal model family goes to—The Cosby Show. Honorable mentions notably go to Modern Family and Home Improvement.

It’s interesting to look across the generations to see which TV family is perceived to be ideal. Gen Xers, Boomers and the Silent Generation alike all list The Cosby Show as portraying the essence of the American family. (Gen Y votes for Modern Family.) But shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver pop up among the Silent folks (admittedly, I’ve never watched a single episode of either). And Home Improvement is a popular choice among Gen X and Boomers, while Gen Y is more likely to list Full House.  I would have to disagree with the latter as I tend to prefer Uncle Jesse John Stamos post-Full House (and post-Beach Boys for that matter).

In the the same American Pulse survey, respondents were asked to vote for which TV show best portrays their group of friends. Not surprisingly, Friends tops the list among Adults 18+ followed closely by one of my friends and Gen X cohort’s favorites, The Golden Girls. (As an aside, I wasn’t allowed to watch The Golden Girls growing up, due to content my mom deemed questionable. And my friend got to know the mature clan via the Lifetime Network in college.)

Friends is also top of the list for members of Gen Y and Gen X as the TV show that most closely resembles their inner circle. Big Bang Theory comes in at #2 for both. Adults that fall into the Boomers and Silent Generations are more likely to say Golden Girls and Cheers. As a card-carrying member of Gen X, I noticed a glaring difference of opinion between “us” and Gen Y… Jersey Shore made their top ten for show that most resembles their friends. Scary Interesting to imagine Snooki as my BFF.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

And for additional info from our latest survey:  Blacks, Asians & Hispanics Say Healthcare Reform Will Benefit Majority; Whites Disagree, According to Latest American Pulse™ Survey

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, Mar-2012, N=3892

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Device Detox: Which could you do without?

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

These days it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone distracted by a smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or other device. Chances are also high that you, yourself, are addicted to some sort of gadgetry (admittedly I’ve been slightly obsessed with my NookColor lately). But could you live without those devices?

In our recent American Pulse™ survey, we asked 3,839 Americans 18+ what devices they could do without if need be, and the generation* gap in responses is quite wide. In fact, for every “new” device (think hand-held video games, eReaders, tablets, smartphones, etc.) we looked at, device dependency dwindles significantly with age:

So while the majority of Boomers and the Silent Generation said they could do without a Netbook, an MP3 player, or a smartphone, the majority of Gen Y implied they wouldn’t be able to part with these devices. The majority of Gen Xers wouldn’t be able to part ways with their smartphone either.  Further, only half of Gen Y said they could do without their hand-held video games, eReaders, and tablets.

But what about more “traditional” devices (i.e. those that have been around a bit longer)? Interestingly, with the exception of laptops, dependency on more traditional devices increases with age rather than decreases. It seems as though Boomers and Silents are less likely to be able to do without digital cameras, radios, televisions, and basic cell phones than their younger counterparts:

While only a small portion of consumers, regardless of age, could do without these more traditional devices (suggesting all consumers are dependent on some level of technology), Gen X and Gen Y would have less trouble than the Silent Generation giving up these gadgets.

But why is this? Well, perhaps because if they were forced to do without these basic devices, Gen X and Gen Y could replace their digital camera and basic cell phone with their smartphone, their radio with their MP3 player, and their television with streaming video on their tablet.

Or at least that’s what I would do…

*For the purposes of this analysis, generations were defined as follows:

  • Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
  • Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  • Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
  • Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, January 2012 #2, N=3,839

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ and American Pulse™ are trademarks of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Promote my Ride

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Do you like what you drive? Would you convince your friends and family members to buy your brand? Or would you tell them to stay away? As a crazy Kia fan (who knows how to shuffle), I wondered which consumers are spreading the word about how awesome their ride is (like me!) and which stare at their luxury car calendar just wishing some day they could own something better.

In our January survey of 9,317 consumers, we asked drivers on a scale from 0-10 how likely it is that they would recommend the car they drive most often to friends or colleagues. Those who said 0-6 are Detractors (“Don’t ever buy this car!”), those who said 7 or 8 are Passives (“This car is decent.”) and those who said 9 or 10 are Promoters (“My ride rocks! You should get one!”). By subtracting Detractors from Promoters, you arrive at the Net Promoter Score* (you may remember this from our pre-holiday auto post when Lexus scored the highest among other vehicle brands).

Instead of looking at top-rated vehicles like we did in our latest press release (this month Subaru is #1), I looked at each generation’s likelihood to recommend their ride.

Surprisingly, the Silent Generation (born 1945 or earlier) scored the highest, with 34.0%. Older consumers appear more likely to be satisfied with their vehicles and willing to talk to their friends and family about purchasing the same brand. Generation Y (born 1983-1994) was more likely to spread negative publicity for the brand of vehicle they drive, scoring -11.8%. Gen Yers’ tweets and Facebook posts are more likely to say “My hunk of junk broke down…AGAIN!!” rather than “Get yourself a Kia and come party rock with me!” (unless you are reading my Twitter…) Boomers and Gen Xers both show positive Net Promoter Scores, with Boomers more likely to recommend their wheels to the world.

What about you? Would you promote your ride? Or do you hide it in the garage and bum rides off your friends? We love to hear from you!

Source: BIGinsight.com, January 2012

*Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

Pursuit of Happiness? Or Quest for Cash?

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

With a struggling economy and growing numbers of budget-conscious consumers, does the need for cash outweigh the desire to live a full life? Thankfully, no! On a 7-pt scale from “Make Money” to “Enjoy Life,” the majority of all Generations place themselves closer to the “Enjoy Life” side. Members of the Silent Generation (born 1945 or earlier) are the most likely to be living life to the fullest, averaging a 5.3 out of a perfectly happy 7. Gen X and Gen Y, scoring 4.5 and 4.6 respectively, still seem to have wealth woes holding them back from a more gung ho pursuit of happiness. (See the report here!)

Members of the Silent Generation appear to be sitting pretty—either already retired or poised to be so soon. 93.5% of them would rather spend time with family than spend time making money and 87.3% would like to spend time with friends (12.7% would choose a new technology device over their friends!) At this time in their lives, the majority of the Silent Generation would also like to have a full life (87.6%) rather than a full bank account (12.4%).

On the other side of the generation spectrum, members of Generation Y seem to be divided. Half of them appear to be doing well financially (either living with parents or gettin’ paper like Chris Brown) while the other half is struggling to make ends meet. Almost half (43.6%) would choose a job that pays well over one they truly enjoy. This compares to only a third (34.2%) of all Americans who would trade job satisfaction for a bigger paycheck. There are times when I agree with these struggling Gen Yers (a girl’s gotta eat!), but lucky for me, I have a fulfilling job that also pays the bills.

Good (and surprising to some) news, friends still trump tech toys for members of Gen Y! 76.8% of Gen Y would rather hang with friends than twitter around with a new smartphone or tablet (23.2%). Although my smartphone is addicting, I agree with the majority here—friends make my life more enjoyable than my smartphone (although Words with Friends combines the best of both worlds).

Even though money is tight, enjoying my life to the fullest is much more important to me than making money or buying “stuff.” Sure, I would love to have a full bank account (for now, a stable one will do), but I would much rather have a full life. In order to achieve this, I give up certain “luxuries” so I have some spare cash. It’s all about priorities—gas money to visit home is more important than paying for cable. Going out with friends is more important than a trip to the mall to buy new shoes or get a haircut. When you think about it, what good is “stuff” when you have no one to share it with? (And I mean in person sharing, not Facebook bragging sharing)

Where do you stand on the scale from “Make Money” to “Enjoy Life”? How do you find ways to pursue happiness in a tough economy? We love to hear from you!

All is Not So “Merry and Bright” for Charities this Holiday Season

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

 

…but here comes Santa Claus Gen Y!

In a weak economy, Americans tend to cut back on everything, and unfortunately that includes donating to the less fortunate. This holiday season, our diffusion index for charitable contributions (those who will spend less than last year subtracted from those who will spend more) is negative, at -15%! (Check out the report here) 27.9% of consumers are planning to spend less on charities this year vs. 12.9% who plan to spend more. The majority (59.2%) plans to spend the same as last year (although that could mean zero dollars for some).

Despite the Grinchy economy, there is one group of consumers getting into the giving spirit this year…and quite unexpectedly, it’s Generation Y! Yep, those fresh-out-of-college and struggling to find work 20-somethings plan to spend MORE overall on charitable contributions this holiday season! 23.9% admit they will spend more, 61.2% plan to spend the same, while only 14.8% say they plan to spend less. That gives us an overall diffusion index in the black at 9.1%! Boomers, on the other hand, are cutting back the most – see for yourself!

Perhaps this shouldn’t be such a surprise—some of those in Generation Y live with their family, and most don’t have children yet. Many of them DO have jobs in innovative companies snatching up tech-savvy employees. Whatever their situation, members of Gen Y appear to have a bit of spare change. The top reason these youngsters gave for giving more this year was “Even though times are tough, there are others that need help more than I do,” with over half (55.4%) saying so. Another 40% simply have more to give.

These reasons ring true in my life as well. I am happily employed and do not have children (just a hamster, but he has only a tiny mouth to feed). There aren’t many children in my extended family either, and due to a variety of reasons (most of which involve debt), my extended family just isn’t giving gifts this year to anyone over the age of five. If you check out the report, you will see 15.3% of my Gen Yers are also cutting back on gifts for family and friends.

My immediate family has decided to give practical gifts. Top on my list is a crock pot and a gift card to my local grocery store! So, after saving up for the year and not having anyone to buy for, my family has picked out a few of our favorite charities to donate to. We are trying to get involved in toy drives and collections for local food pantries as well. It just feels like the right thing to do, especially at this time of year. It’s hard to imagine that there are people in my neighborhood that only want shampoo or a blanket for Christmas while so many others around the country are thinking about a new tablet or smartphone.

I realize that I have been blessed in my life, and I want to give back what I can to those who really need it. I may not be able to offer gold or even a pa rum pum pum pum on a drum (I am NOT musically gifted) but I can give someone the gift of warmth or a hot meal or even a roof!

Here at BIG, we want to know what you are doing this holiday season. Let us know if you are cutting back on donations in this rough economy or if you are able to help out others in their time of need. What are some of your favorite charities? Do you get involved in your community or church around the holidays? Are you taking care of yourself and your family first before helping others? We like to hear from you!

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