Talking About My Generation: Three Demographics Retailers Need To Know

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Flickr.

Millennials, boomers and Generation X: they’re commonly spoken about, but what are their unique differences – and what areas are they more likely to shop? We’ve analysed these three most influential spenders to pin fact and trend.

THE BOOMERS: 1945-1964

At the 2011 census, 1 in 6 people were identified as baby boomers – the 50-to-70-year-olds resulting from the post-war population surge – and they own around 80% of the UK’s wealth, including pensions, property, savings, and shares. More than half use Facebook, and 88% believe themselves to be pretty in tune with tech – not quite the cultural philistines and technological luddites that advertising would have us believe. Here’s three key areas retailers could tap into to reach these seasoned, sage and savvy shoppers:

– Dating: The over 65s is the fastest growing age group on dating site eHarmony, partly due to the higher divorce rates of the demographic. A mature version of Tinder, Stitch, has even been launched, and has a valuation of almost £500m

– Property: According to insurer LV, the over 60s own 25% of the UK property wealth – roughly £993bn – and 8% of them have 2 homes

– Fashion: The fashion industry are changing the face of their campaigns – literally – to include older women, like 71-year-old Joni Mitchell for Dior, 65-year-old Twiggy for M&S, and 93-year-old Iris Apfel for Kate Spade

GENERATION X: 1965-1979

Those born between the 60s and 80s, Xers are considered the best-educated generation. Growing up to a backdrop of MTV, free love and divorce, as well as political concerns, space travel and the AIDS epidemic, Xers fill the ‘middle’ age gap of mid-thirties to mid-fifties. As they’re reaching their peak earning years, they’re the biggest of the bunch in terms of spending – but they’re also a careful lot who, while highly likely to pay more than most for nicer things, make sure they research the market first. And, 82% of them are homeowners, with couples both working. The 3 areas retailers should target are:

– Home improvement: Xers buy into this market more than any other demographic, and have a DIY attitude. Since 1999, spend has increased at an average of 3% per year in America alone

– Family: With many Xers being parents, toys, clothes and childcare are key areas of spend. The average family size for this generation is 2.5 children

– Travel: Xers like to holiday: 40% of them took a trip in 2011

THE MILLENNIALS: 1980-2000

Generation Y, or the Millennials, comprise 23% of the UK population, and span 15-year-olds to young couples. They may seem an odd demographic, but they have unified characteristics and principles, such as being career-orientated and money-motivated, and were all born in a period of massive technological change, economic instability and globalisation. Most don’t have a mortgage or children, and some still live with their parents or in house-shares. Their 3 areas are:

– Technology: Digital natives, 64% go online for their news and entertainment, 76% own a mobile and 50% believe they’re tech-savvy

– Travel: The work/life balance has never been more important to a demographic, and for the millennials, travel is the perfect escape: under-30s travel more than any other demographic, approaching 5 times a year

– Health & Fitness: Thanks to the millennials’ health-conscious attitude, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are both experiencing a fall in sales, with the former seeing earnings drop by almost a third at the end of 2014. Meanwhile, statistics for fitness apps see millennials using them twice as much as any other demographic

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With thanks to the following sources:

http://digiday.com/brands/top-youth-brands-uk-five-charts/
http://expediablog.co.uk/the-future-of-travel/
http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/jan/24/millennials-generation-gap
http://www.theneweconomy.com/strategy/millennials-the-perfect-consumers
http://www.themarketer.co.uk/analysis/features/generation-y-what-every-marketer-needs-to-know/
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-willis/adapting-to-millennials-_b_6578348.html
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/population-and-household-estimates-for-the-united-kingdom/stb-2011-census–population-estimates-for-the-united-kingdom.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/8840963/Baby-boomers-are-very-privileged-human-beings.html
http://www.wgsn.com/
http://mobihealthnews.com/23117/millennials-use-health-and-fitness-apps-more-than-other-age-groups/
http://www.socialmarketing.org/newsletter/features/generation2.htm
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/175754/gen-x-the-new-luxury-buyers-and-how-to-reach-them.html
http://specialtyretail.com/issue/2003/07/running-a-cart-or-kiosk/shopper-demographics/generation_x_sales/
http://www.if.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Spending-Power-Across-the-Generations-Report.pdf

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