Must read: the changing US consumer

first_imgThere is a great piece in Advertising Age online today from Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics magazine (registration required to view the article). He writes about the changing face of consumers. Like me, they’re getting more wrinkly and set in their ways by the day.Here are a couple of the highlights (warning: sweeping generalizations ahead), along with thoughts on the implications for us. You can read the full article here (with registration).OLDER: A full 80% of the growth in US households in the next five years will be from those headed by people over age 55. Yep, that’s right — EIGHTY PERCENT. The average age of the US household is already only six months shy of 50. The first boomers hit 65 in less than three years. So what does that mean? The older set (65+), says Francese, tend to be risk adverse and inflexible in their attitudes. That means clever marketers will play to this world view with messaging about guarantees, safety and experience. Warranties, corporate history and testimonials work. So, nonprofit marketers, emphasize your organization’s storied history and great performance with these folks. Don’t be too cute or flashy. Meanwhile, the second fastest growing segment is folks 25-34 – a group that is increasingly diverse ethnically. The bigggest spending, best paid group — those 35 to 54 – is shrinking. Groan.ALL OVER THE PLACE, IN EVERY SENSE OF THE EXPRESSION: As you read this, I suspect you’re having the reaction that I did – sheesh, how are you supposed to reach such different groups? It gets even more challenging when you consider geographic segments. The West is getting younger and more multicultural while the Northeast is getting older and whiter. (I told you there would be generalizations – this is demographics, after all.) The answer? Segmentation of course. You’re going to need different positioning for different audiences — AND different message delivery vehicles. The latter is actually good news – it’s easier to target your message when not everyone is getting your messages the same way and when people are clustered into certain locations. There are people who live online and on their phones, and there are folks who stick to the newspaper. You need to look not only at the age of your audiences, but also where and how they live so you know the best way to reach them. Fancy marketers call this ethnographic research. Throw that into your next convo to look extra smart.last_img read more