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BizReport : Research archives : January 15, 2010

Marketers must ready for a new kind of consumer

A new kind of consumer is coming to America and marketers need to ready for him. Over the next twenty to thirty years marketers are going to have to completely change their philosophy or risk alienating or simply missing many US households. Why? Because the population make-up in America is rapidly changing - and aging.

by Kristina Knight

nielsenwire.gifDoug Anderson, senior vice president of Research and Development for The Nielsen Company explains it this way, "It all begins with aging. US Fertility rates have fallen by 44% since the peaks of the Baby Boom and are projected to continue to fall by another 12% over the next several decades. Falling fertility, combined with rising life expectancy and the large Baby Boom generation just nearing retirement age, equates to an aging population. By 2037, nearly one in three households in the U.S. will be headed by someone over the age of 65."

Other reasons to plan for a new kind of consumer:

• Homeownership is down because of forclosures
• Incomes are flat or have declined
• More growth in lesser developed areas such as Asia and South America
• More younger immigrant families mean a more diversified advertising audience
• Older consumers needs are different than younger consumers

Because the population is aging, smart marketers will make special allowances in upcoming campaigns to better target older adults - both those with families and empty-nesters. How to target an older generation?

The first step is to realize that today's Baby Boomers (under age 65) are not doing the same things their parents were doing at their age. And the generations coming after Baby Boomers won't act as their parents or grandparents did. Meaning today's Baby Boomer can't be targeted the way today's Senior is targeting and tomorrow's Gen Xer cannot be targeted as today's Baby Boomer will be.

For example, today's Baby Boomers drink more alcohol than their parents did, spend more than their parents did and consume - goods and services - more than their parents did. And take the 30-45 demographic: this generation is more likely to have young children at home while their parents were likely to have high-school or college aged children at the same age.

What all of this means is that marketers must take into account how different demographics are acting now to prepare for the targeting of tomorrow.

Tags: Baby Boomers, demographics, Gen X, Gen Y, NielsenWire, online advertising, Seniors

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