Generational color trends
It’s no secret that each generation has its own interests, morals, likes, and dislikes.
These differences even extend to color and aesthetic preference. You can use these generational color differences to your advantage.
Each business wants to attract a certain demographic. Understanding and using color preferences to your advantage can help you attract your ideal customer.
Let’s examine some of the trends that can be linked to some of today’s most popular age demographics, from oldest to youngest.
Baby Boomers include those born between 1943 and 1960. People in this generation are in their early-60s all the way to their late-80s.
As the more “mature” generation, it makes sense that many color experts and designers recommend “mature” color palettes to attract this age group. Many prefer colors (and businesses) that appear to be functional, practical, and comfortable. Many also like colors that appear soothing and calm.
Common choices for these age groups include warm and smooth yellows and whites, clear and pale blue, and jade green. Mature colors include what many prefer to be “classic” color palettes. Darker blues, maroons, plums, shades of grey, and deep reds are all standard for Boomers.
Gen X includes those born from the years 1961-1980. People in this generation range from the mid-40s to the late-50s. Like Baby Boomers, common choices for this age group include warm and smooth colors. Gen Xers tend to be more open with their options, opting for globally relevant color palettes like exotic greens and reds, midwestern browns, and violets.
Born between the years 1981-1996, Millennials range from their early-20s to late-30s.
Millennials are often the trendsetters of the current age as they represent the largest consumer demographic. Millennials spending tells the world what most people gravitate toward. So, what are trending millennial colors?
The most famous that still has its hold on color preference is a color dubbed “millennial pink,” which is actually more of a soft, warm, pastel pink. Also described as dusty pink or a blush color, you can see it pop up in everything from clothes to brand colors to entire homes in this color.
You’ll see a preference for these soft and almost pastel colors across the rainbow with “spearmint” green, “cantaloupe” orange, corals, and lavenders all common color palettes that attract millennials.
Millennials are heavy on nostalgia from their youth too, which means bright and bold 80s and 90s palettes full of neons, bold colors, and zany patterns are popular as well.
Millennials can also be minimalists. So muted palettes with soft greys, whites, blues, greens, and browns are all standard options, too.
Gen Z includes those born between 1996 and 2015, this is the youngest generation with a wide range of ages, including children aged 7 up to early twenty-somethings.
If you’re looking to attract the younger of the Gen Z generation, studies show that bright and contrasting colors are excellent for children.
The older end of Gen Z tends to follow millennial trends closely. This includes muted colors and pastels like “spearmint” green and blush pink. Also, like millennial colors, Gen Z colors rely heavily on 80s and 90s trends (even though most of the people in Gen Z weren’t born during that time!).
Bright and bold colors are typical for Gen Zers, so don’t be afraid to brighten up your color pallet to appeal to the youngest generation. In fact, Gen Z yellow (a bright and sunny color) is already being lauded as the next new trend that will rival millennial pink.
Gen Z is also taking almost the opposite trend as millennial 80s/90s nostalgia: retro-classic palettes from the 50s and 60s are coming back alongside fashions from that time. This includes colors like olive greens, magentas, maroon, orange, and various purples.
Slightly muted palettes are also trending upward with Gen Zers in 2023.