Marketing Impact – The Generation Train Wreck

In a recent headline, Credit Card Debt drops 11% in 2011, it hit me once again that a part of what the economy is being hit hard with the generation train wreck.  The move away from consumerism by Boomers and the gap left with a much smaller Gen X is making it harder to gain any traction in the economy.

Now, while I always understood as a marketer that Gen X was smaller, the Baby Boomer years of supporting the growing economy masked the shift.

That is until I read Age Curve by Ken Gronbach.

Gen Y is about 10 years from revving up the economy with their purchasing power.

From Ken’s blog, “For the record Generation Y was born 1985 to 2004.  There are about eighty-two million of them, three million more than the Baby Boomers.”  As Ken  continued, “The future is very bright for the United States and Generation Y is why….I tell banks to get Generation Y representation on their boards of directors or they risk having their industry become a buggy whip.  Generation Y banks on their iPhones.  Generation Y will make the arrangements when their Boomer parents die.  What will they do?  Don’t count on anything traditional.”

What to do?

First, as a marketer, I have to find leads for my clients that have jobs, money and credit. The market is the 30-45 age group that is typically in a spending cycle.  (See the financial services example in the chart “Profitability by Age Group”) However, there are 11% less of them than what we were all used to selling to, so offers have to be more compelling, content has to be more helpful and the brand has to be protected by an amazing service experience every time.  Really, it means stealing the business by having a better value, better offer and better service because every one of your competitors wants their business, too.

Second, I don’t want to be left behind in the huge changes of the Gen Y crowd.  With what streamlined dollars are available, it is important to start “talking” to Gen Y about how your older brand can really benefit them financially.  The difficulty is that this group will not be as profitable for quite a while.  (See the negative profitability in financial services for youth in the chart “Profitability by Age Group”)  Yet, we have to invest in capturing a position in their minds of being the only place to do their business when they are ready!

What are you doing to transform your marketing, your thinking, your business and your career to adjust to this generational train wreck?

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