Xennials

The best of two worlds

Author
Portrait von Susanne Holzer. | © punkt & komma
Susanne Holzer
Content editor
Here’s a little test:
  • At one point in your life, you owned one of the following (and felt incredibly cool because of it): a) a Walkman b) a Game Boy c) a video recorder.
  • The first thing you think of when you hear the name George Clooney isn’t “Ocean’s Eleven” but “Emergency Room”.
  • You can still hum the melody of your first dial-up modem.
  • You collected pre-paid calling cards.
  • You had a crush on Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto in “My So-Called Life”) or Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley in “Beverly Hills 902010”).

You answered at least one of these questions with “yes”? Then you’re probably a dinos-… no, hang on: a Xennial!
Pärchen mit Hund und Kaffeetassen

Who the f#$% are Xennials?

You have never heard of Xennials? Although you might be one of them? Then it’s about time we introduced you to this generation!

Xennials …

… are the micro generation between Generation X and the Millenials.
… were born between 1977 and 1985.
… grew up in an analogue childhood and came of age in a digital world.

Who exactly coined the term “Xennial” is a matter of dispute. Whether it was Australian sociologist Dan Woodman or writer Sarah Stankorb, both of them had noticed that the children of the late 70s and early 80s were somehow different.

Different from cynical Generation X, different from the sanguine, self-centred Millenials. Rather, they were something or somewhere in between. And that’s not all that much of a surprise considering that they literally grew up in two different worlds. 

Analogue childhood …

One of these two worlds is the one that often makes your younger colleagues look at you in a funny way. Right, so as a kid you were outside all day, without your parents knowing exactly where you were? What do you mean, you had no mobile phone? No Facebook, no WhatsApp, no Instagram, no nothing?! OMG!!

Although for your colleagues it might seem like you came straight from World War II, your childhood was actually pretty ace. Just imagine: not being available for everyone all the time, no mobile phone shots of your most embarrassing moments, the wonderful opportunity to do a mixtape for your first love …

Of course, there were also some downsides. Just think back to when you still had a landline phone and first had to get past the bouncers (aka parents) to actually talk to your friend! Not to mention those late-night phone calls from the telephone booth (yes, telephone booth!) …
Telefon in einer alten Telefonzelle
Bild von einer Kassette

… meets digital youth

What younger generations often tick off their list in primary school, Xennials frequently had to wait for until they were 18 or even older: Celebrate the Lord, the first mobile phone! Although it was the size of a brick, you proudly carried it with you at all times – and often had to return it to Mom and Dad after the very first month because you had a telephone bill the size of a small house … 

About the same time, the homes of Xennials were graced with the power of the World Wide Web. As soon as you had managed to kick your parents off the phone line and connect your beeping dial-up modem to the internet, you entered a new world. A world of chat rooms, Myspace pages and school essays you no longer had to research at the local library. The best thing about it was that you could still copy whole essays off Wikipedia, as the teachers from the digital Stone Age didn’t cop onto you just yet.

So to speak, the life of Xennials swiftly picked up pace during their late adolescence. The first popular (German-speaking) platforms like StudiVZ, Szene1 and Austronaut gave way to Google, YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. All the things we couldn’t imagine today’s life without actually grew alongside the Xennials.
Zwei Kolleginnen bei einem Selfie.
Junge Frau schaut auf ihr Handy. | © punkt & komma

Rooted in two worlds

Xennials have one foot in the analogue world and one foot in the digital world. They often have a deeper understanding of things that haven’t always been done automatically and have skills that Millenials don’t have anymore. 

So as a Xennial, you’re not a dinosaur – you’re something special: a super hero from two different worlds!

How to talk to a Xennial

Enough of telling tales – what does this new target group mean for content marketers? How can you address the Xennials and include them into your marketing scheme? Here are a few tips to consider when working with this special micro generation …
  • Xennials often have digital “blind spots”. For some parts of their lives, they rather rely on old-school solutions: think pocket diaries instead of Outlook, online purchases made on desktop computers rather than on mobile phones, …
  • Xennials generally have a longer attention span than Millenials. At least those endless hours at the local library were good for something …
  • Many Xennials are reaching a point where they don’t jump on every tech trend. They might not really get Snapchat or completely ignore it. This doesn’t mean they’re out of the digital race, though! 
  • Xennials are a very demanding and varied target group and you should never tar them all with the same brush. After all, there’s a big difference between “Team Buffalos” and “Team Skater Shoes”, between “Team Green Day” and “Team Oasis”, between …

You would like to learn more about Generation X, Y and Z? Take a look at our article about Social Media Marketing For All Generations!

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