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How Are Different Generations Planning for Summer 2021?

Find out what's worrying, what's exciting, and what's trending in conversations around summer 2021

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REPORTHow Are Different Generations Planning for Summer 2021?

While going back to “normal” as we knew it won’t happen for some time, the summer of 2021 is looking promising for many. With vaccines becoming more and more available worldwide, some countries reopening their borders, and others easing the restrictions, the prospect of attending concert venues and amusement parks and taking vacations is becoming more real.

We can see the difference in how people are thinking about summer when comparing online conversation in 2021 (1 January to 5 April) to the same period in 2020 using Brandwatch Consumer Research.

Top words and phrases around summer plans shared on Twitter (2020)

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Source: Brandwatch Consumer Research | Word Cloud visualizing conversations about summer plans from Jan 2020 - Apr 5 2020

Top words and phrases around summer plans shared on Twitter (2021)

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Source: Brandwatch Consumer Research | Word Cloud visualizing conversations about summer plans from Jan 2021 - Apr 5 2021

There was a lot of uncertainty in the first months of 2020. Topics like ‘coronavirus’, ‘due to coronavirus’, ‘understanding’, ‘lockdown’, ‘postponed’, and ‘stay’ could be seen in conversations around summer plans. The topic cloud for 2021 has a more positive outlook on things, with mentions including ‘summer holidays’, ‘summer vacation’, ‘2021 summer’, as well as mentions related to seasonal fashion and several names of vaccines.

Diving deeper, there are key differences in how different generations are thinking about their summer plans this year.

Breaking down the data by generation

We used Brandwatch’s ‘Ready to Use Social Panels’ to analyze English-language conversations around summer plans among baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (millennials), and Generation Z. But first things first. What are Social Panels, and how do they work?

Social Panels is a Brandwatch feature that allows users to gain a deeper understanding of unique groups of people based on a defined set of characteristics (eg interests, profession, location, gender, etc). You can create your own Social Panels, but Ready to Use Social Panels offer pre-built groups for users to choose from. With Ready to Use Social Panels at hand, organizations can conduct real-time social listening analysis and learn about their consumers quickly.

Our experts have built Ready to Use Social Panels for different generations, meaning we can check out what’s unique about each audiences’ conversation. Let’s dive in to learn more about each generation and their plans for summer 2021.

What’s the baby boomer outlook on summer 2021?

Baby boomers are defined as the generation of people born during the post-World War II baby boom (1944-1964). This subset of the population has seen a lot in its collective lifetime – social movements, cultural revolutions, political instability, and war. They offer a fascinating perspective on what’s happening today. 

Perhaps due to the older age distribution of this group, the volume of mentions coming from baby boomers was significantly lower when compared to the other generational cohorts, but there’s still plenty that can be learned by analyzing their conversations.

Of the baby boomers we studied categorized by occupation, 31% were ‘teacher and lecturer’. And as we examined the baby boomers’ conversations around their summer plans, we noticed that there were a lot of mentions related to education. Topics like ‘grad students’, ‘program accepting’, ‘applications’, and ‘undergraduate’ were widely discussed in conversations around the summer. 

As the world has slowly started moving into recovery mode, many schools around the globe are calling for students to return. One of the trending topics in conversations among the baby boomers of Twitter was “school summer holidays”. As we clicked further on the topic, we learned that as part of the changes brought about by the pandemic, people were discussing how England’s schools are considering shortening school summer holidays to make up for lost learning time, which in turn would likely reduce the summer holidays for educators.

‘Family’ and ‘children’ were other big topics in conversations among the baby boomers. We found that many concerns exist in relation to the upcoming summer season and seeing family. The ‘family’ topic was connected to keywords like ‘cough’ and ‘crowded’. With summer rapidly approaching, warm temperatures will drive more and larger groups to public places, potentially jeopardizing the health of those at higher risk.

The British ‘boomers’ of Twitter, specifically, discussed how it has been suggested that Brits need to stay aware of what’s going on outside the UK as the summer holidays are approaching. 

Baby boomers seemed to be pretty cautious about traveling this summer, or so the conversation suggests. As we searched for potential summer destinations baby boomers might be considering, we came across several posts that talked about plans for summer 2022 instead, suggesting that travel might be put off till next year.

How is Gen X feeling about summer 2021? 

Born between 1965-1979, Gen X is often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ because the people in this group are typically caring for children under 18 and older parents at the same time.

How have Gen Xers been tweeting about their summer plans during the first months of 2021?

‘Summer vacation’ is prominently displayed across the topic cloud as the most frequently used phrase in conversations between January 1 and April 5 2021. Since the first Covid vaccine was given back in December 2020, attitudes toward summer have shifted to hopefulness across most of the generations we studied.

As we reviewed the topic cloud for ‘summer plans’ in conversations among the Gen X-ers, the word ‘free’ stood out as one of the frequently mentioned words in their discussions. By tapping on the word we learned was that these discussions were triggered by the news about the EU setting out a virus pass plan to allow free travel by summer.

‘Free meals’ was another phrase in the word cloud that represented a larger discussion among Gen X. The United States Department of Agriculture said it would be extending free meals to all eligible children through summer vacation, shifting the burden off the working families’ shoulders.

We saw a very similar trend in the UK. 

We also checked out some of the key topics within positive-categorized conversation. Some people in our Gen X Social Panel focused on the positive aspects related to the pandemic such as saving money:

Others were overjoyed with hope and possibilities brought by vaccination.

We were also able to identify the most desired summer 2021 destinations that Gen X-ers are talking about. Here are the top location-based keywords we found in their conversations:

  1. Europe
  2. America (“States” was also a top-used word)
  3. Scotland
  4. France
  5. London

Since the majority of this English-speaking panel are based in the US or UK, it looks like there’ll be plenty of ‘staycations’ in 2021.

Millennials: Summer plans may not be canceled

Based on the number of mentions, the millennials or Generation Y (born between 1980-1994) are a chatty bunch.

While millennials have grown up in the digital age, what’s unique about this generation compared to later ones is that they were not born into it. This demographic is very familiar with the digital world, but also appreciates in-person experiences. What were the millennials of Twitter discussing in relation to their summer plans?

The online conversations among the users within the first three months of 2021 revealed that summer 2021 plans may not be canceled after all. ‘Summer holidays’, ‘summer break’, and ‘summer vacation’ were trending in conversations alongside well-known vaccine providers.

By filtering these conversations by sentiment we learned that the conversation around summer plans is very positive, containing with words like ‘#summer2021', ‘great’, ‘good’, ‘road’, and ‘ready’.

Where are the millennials planning on traveling this summer? Here are the top location-based keywords we found in their conversations:

  1. UK
  2. York
  3. Hawaii
  4. Jersey
  5. Mexico

We also learned that many millennials have started fantasizing about what the post-quarantine dating scene might look like. The image below was the #1 most retweeted media among the millennials and #2 among the Gen Z group relating to summer in the period we studied.

Gen Z: The most enthusiastic for summer

Born between 1995-2015, this generation has grown up in a hyper-connected world and have been labeled as "digital natives". They're also the most vocal of our generational cohorts.

52% of the Gen Z tweeters Brandwatch categorized by occupation are currently students, and one of their biggest concerns seen in the discussions related to summer plans was getting a summer internship. Covid-19 has reshaped the economic landscape, and until very recently Gen Z was facing an uncertain future. Our research showed that luckily, there was generally positive sentiment around the conversations about summer 2021 internships – with the economy slowly recovering, more opportunities will hopefully start to become available.

It's fair to say that Gen Z is the most enthusiastic generation about the upcoming summer. They're talking excitedly about breaks from school and road trips and visiting the beach. They've also been talking excitedly about summer fashion trends.

And for many, summer 2021 is planned to be one of the best ever.

46% of the Gen Z authors we studied were located in the United States, which may explain some of the top five location-based keywords we found in their conversations:

  1. Mexico
  2. California
  3. Memphis
  4. Italy
  5. European


Brandwatch's Social Panels feature allows market researchers and marketers to 'read the room' on their audiences of interest in real time.

Whether you are exploring different generations or would like to group consumers based on a custom set of characteristics, Social Panels can help you get to the insights you need fast.


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