Decoding the 'Sandwich'? Generation

(An ode to people born between late '70s and early '80s)

The term ‘Xennial’ was coined in 2014 by writer Sarah Stankorb, to describe herself and similar men and women, born between 1977 and 1983, who struggled to fit in with the Gen X-ers, the generation before them on one hand, and the Millennials, the generation after them, on the other.

 Here’s how you determine whether you fall into this group or not.

 You were born between 1977 and 1983 (1976ers and 1984ers are welcome too)

 You spent your entire childhood and a good part of your college life without mobile phones

You remember the time when there weren’t so many brands of everything in the market that buying anything calls for thesis-level online and peer level research

You used assembled computers to work on your projects in college

I prefer calling this group the 'Sandwich Generation' because we are like the forgotten, much thinner filling between the thicker slices of bread -Gen X above, and the Millennials below, every Indian marketer’s darling customers.

We are also in the unique position of straddling both the Gen Xer’s world of the pre-liberalisation, slow moving, simpler India of the 80s and the consumerist, fast-paced time of the Millennials.

Having spent nearly two decades of our (most impressionable) growing up years with limited technology, we understand the value of personal, social interaction and are also probably the last generation to whom interpersonal communication was a necessity to survive in the world

For our parents, the shining new world of the 90s was unfamiliar, and viewed as dangerous, even. We navigated this uncharted land on our own, learning our lessons, paving our own way. In contrast, as parents today, we strive to know as much, if not more, about the world than our children with the aim of helping them navigate it safely and successfully

Some of us admit that our homes (and maybe our minds, too) have become a clutter of our changing personalities and preferences over the years - rammed with collectibles in showcases, e-waste wrapped up and stowed away in drawers, and bookshelves upon bookshelves groaning under the weight of books. We reveled in the ocean of choice by choosing… everything. Now we know better.

Our choices, as they can be called, have been on the side of the conforming and the conventional, ruled by the very ethos that made our parents the adults they became. Today, with the option of breaking moulds more feasible than ever, we are slow to act, in a world that has moved from thinking and acting, to tweeting, announcing, and occasionally, acting.

Growing up, there were few people whose opinion mattered to us, and we gave them outsized weightage. Today, everyone has an opinion, and everything seems to matter. In an era where the conventional structures of organisation and leaders of opinion are being shaken, we cling to the past, in our methods of thinking, analyzing and ultimately, decision making.

The sheer breadth of change that we have encountered in our lives has made us adaptable, resilient and cautiously optimistic about newness.

We have the money, the paucity of time, and the need for value. But we often don’t get the attention we deserve from marketers. Why? Because we are the in-between people, the ones who wonder why don’t we feel like an “X”-er or “Millennial”-y but more like a Sony headphone jack plugged into an iPhone.


(Thank you Nivedita Ramesh for all your wonderful inputs)

Author: Gurudev Prasad

August 30, 2020