Boomers and Millennials: Two Generations Separated By The Same Language

240 years later, Great Britain takes in more US Dollars from tourism than from tea taxes

By the Fourth of July, 1776, Anglo-American relations had been going downhill for years – the dumping of over three hundred chests of East India Company tea into Boston harbor by the Sons Of Liberty back in 1773 hadn’t helped.

Cod caffeine highIn addition to giving the local codfish population a major caffeine high, it irked the Brits to no end. Apparently, the Colonials didn’t appreciate paying the Tea Act taxes. Smacking down the redcoats at Yorktown didn’t sit well with Westminster either.

Bad show, chaps, bad show.

But fast forward 240 or so years and Plan B is working out pretty well for the Mother Country; today, Britain is the #1 overseas destination country for U.S. travelers (Canada and Mexico are counted as international, not overseas).

US overseas travelers 2014

According to The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, over 3.3 million Americans visited the UK in 2014.

That’s way more than the population of the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence.

Across the pond, Visit Britain reports the USA is the #1 in-bound visitor market, worth $4.6 billion in 2014. That should cover a lot of lost tea tax.

Boomers and Millennials: Two Generations Separated By A Single Language

Despite the kiss-and-make-up relationship that developed between America and Britain during the last two hundred years, a gulf remains – we are, as has been pointed out many times, two countries separated by the same language. The words we use may seem similar, but the pronunciations, spellings and meanings are often quite different.

Cockney Pearlie KingWhat with bangers and chips vs. sausages and french fries, biscuits vs. cookies and lifts (that label the 2nd floor as the 1st floor) vs. elevators, it’s tricky to order a meal in London above street level.

And then there’s Cockney rhyming slang: me and the trouble and strife went up the apples and pears at Marks and Sparks to take a butchers at the Scooby’s.

Translation: my wife and I went upstairs at the Marks & Spencer department store to look at the shoes. Elementary, my dear Watson.

If we have trouble communicating in the mother tongue with the folks who invented it, what chance do American marketing and advertising Millennials have to profitably engage Boomers?

FlairsNot that Madison Avenue often tries, because they say our adaptability gene shrivels after age fifty. Whatever.

Perhaps it’s just as well –  adland attempts to channel Boomer-world can be cringe-worthy. You know, grainy, faded simulations of old home movies; Twiggy clones in mini skirts; spacey chicks in granny dresses; mustache-laden dudes with major hair and righteous flairs. Back in the day, only Richard Roundtree was cool enough to pull it off – but, hey, he was Shaft.

Most of these efforts bear little resemblance to the real world we Boomers passed through – briefly – on our way to the iPhone 5, streaming House of Cards and tracking our Millennial kids on Twitter and Facebook.

Let’s face it: Boomers and Millennials are two generations separated by a single language – Boomer-speak, a dialect rich in context, nuance and hidden meaning. Key word: hidden.

Boomer-Plus: ready to party in 2076

Americans aged fifty-plus own over 80% of the nation’s personal assets. Most of this enormous buying power belongs to the Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965. At 93 million strong this a bigger “nation” not only than Great Britain, but also than any European country.

Based on current longevity patterns, there will still be Boomers around to celebrate America’s 300th birthday in 2076. We’ll buy a lot of tea – and everything else – in the meantime. So, to Millennials daring enough to break away from old world thinking, we say welcome to the revolution.

Fourth of July

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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