Focus on consumers: Boomers-Millennials

consumersfoodpricesNielsen surveyed nearly 28,000 households between March 14, 2013, and May 6, 2013, and another 41,000 households between Nov. 14, 2013, and Jan. 16, 2014.  Overall, rising food prices ranked No. 1 on our list of headwinds, as almost two-thirds of households (64%) said prices were a major factor limiting their spending in mid-2013, and more than half (52%) were still unhappy with prices in January 2014.  In the face of headwinds, consumers responded with pragmatism, saying they made trade-offs or bought less. When it came to coping with headwinds, consumers said they tightened their belts across the board except when asked about responding to rising gas and food prices. Notably, 75 percent of respondents said higher fuel prices caused them to make fewer trips, whereas more expensive food prompted 65 percent to seek out better deals.

For the two-thirds of consumers seeking deals or cutting their budgets in the face of rising food prices, marketers might quickly jump to publicize “low-price” promotions, but stopping there would be short-sighted. Nielsen research shows that ads focused on price don’t resonate as well as those with humor or family/sentimental messaging.

Just How Many Baby Boomers Are There?

One can use the figure 76.4 million (or round it down to 76 million) to approximate the number of baby boomers living in the U.S. today. But keep in mind that of the 76 million babies were born in the United States during the baby-boom years (1946 to 1964), only 65.2 million of those babies were still alive in 2012, and the baby-boom age group (ages 50 to 68 in 2014) stood at 76.4 million in 2012 with immigrants included in the count.

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The aging of the baby boomers is creating a dramatic shift in the age composition of the U.S. population. Projections of the entire older population (which includes the pre-baby-boom cohorts born before 1946) suggest that 71.4 million people will be age 65 or older in 2029. This means that the elderly ages 65 and older will make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2029, up from almost 14 percent in 2012.

5 MYTHS ABOUT MILLENNIAL CONSUMERS (Fast Company)

MYTH 1: MILLENNIALS HAVE A WHOLE NEW VALUE SYSTEM.

Marketers often talk about Millennials as if they are fundamentally different from their elders. We asked non-Millennials: What is important to you now versus what was important to you 20 years ago? We also asked the Millennials: What is important to you now versus what will be important to you in 20 years? When it comes to what really matters in life, both groups expressed similar values: Millennials and non-Millennials overwhelming valued relationships with friends and family above anything else.

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MYTH 2: MILLENNIALS ARE SPOILED AND LAZY.

Regardless of age, we found that everyone is united in a disparaging view of the Millennial generation. It’s no surprise that more than 40% of non-Millennials describe Millennials negatively. Views of Millennials by Gen X, Boomers, and Silents are particularly harsh, favoring words like “lazy,” “spoiled,” “selfish,” “entitled,” and “techies.” What surprised us is that, Millennials, too, are as hard on themselves as older generations are on them, with 25% characterizing their generation negatively. Some of the most common words Millennials used to describe themselves were “technology,” “lazy,” “entitled,” “connected,” and “impatient.” They are acutely aware of–and have bought into–how they are typically personified.

MYTH 3: MILLENNIALS ARE MORE INTERESTED IN WORKING TO LIVE THAN PURSUING MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT.

Our research showed that career fulfillment is important for everyone, regardless of age. If they had to choose, the majority of all age groups would pick a fulfilling job over one that made more money or promised security. Millennials were more likely than older generations to prioritize compensation over job security, while non-Millennials were more likely to prioritize the reverse.

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MYTH 4: MILLENNIALS VALUE STAYING CONNECTED THROUGH THEIR DEVICES AND SOCIAL MEDIA MORE THAN OTHER GENERATIONS.

Both Millennials and non-Millennials used “technology” as one of the key terms to describe this generation. When asked what they would be willing to give up for a week in exchange for staying plugged into their digital worlds, both Millennials and non-Millenials overwhelmingly were not willing to part with basic comforts like heat/AC, paychecks, food, and cars/public transportation to stay connected. However, Millennials were slightly more likely to give up bathing for a week in order to maintain access to their digital and social networks. Gross, guys.

MYTH 5: MILLENNIALS ARE OVEREXPOSED AND BROADCAST TOO MUCH OF THEMSELVES THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.

Young or old, our respondents agreed that social media does not show the “real” me. The majority of Millennials and older generations maintain some boundaries when it comes to social media. About half of Millennials and over three quarters of non-Millennials keep the majority of their “real” selves private. Nearly half of non-Millennials and one-fifth of Millennials said that none of their real selves was reflected in social media. So while they may love “selfies,” Millennials draw clear distinctions between their “real” self and their social media personas.

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So what can brands and advertisers take away from these debunked myths? Employ values-based–rather than generationally-based–marketing communications. Try some irony and self-deprecating humor on for size by intentionally parodying classic Millennial and “hipster” stereotypes (it works for Portlandia!). Most importantly, collaborate with Millennials–not as a demographic but as real people–to build relationships and relevant marketing programs that demonstrate a deep understanding of who they are and who they’re not.