Think Of Millennials As Younger Boomers On A Tight Budget

Are Millennials growing old already?

Schadenfreude alert: even genial, well-adjusted Boomers are allowed to gloat once in a while – sure, we’ll feel guilty in the morning, but right now it feels good.

You see, as Millennials hit the big three-oh, some marketers see them as old!

Dr. Sivana

Evidently, the “experts” were flummoxed to learn, as we previously noted, leading edge Millennials are beginning to settle down and move into the family life-stage. And, to the surprise of observers living in big city media ecosystems, young adults are migrating in greater numbers to sunbelt suburbs than to walkable, bistro-enhanced urban neighborhoods around the country.

Recently, Ad Age managing editor, Ken Wheaton, asked Were Millennials Just Figments Of Our Fevered Imagination All Along? Wheaton has fun pointing out that the darlings of the Millennial-chic consultant lobby are actually more like their Boomer moms and dads than the marketing herd ever thought possible.

In fact, an earlier Ad Age piece Study: Millennial Parents Just Like Those From Previous Generations (October 3, 2013) had already reported nuggets from a survey by ad agency Barkley titled Millennials as New Parents  including … 

  • Stork_new baby40% of 25-34 year olds are already parents
  • 9,000 Millennial women give birth every day
  • In the next 10-15 years, 80% of Millennials will be parents

Barkley’s VP/Strategy Director, David Gutting reported that as family responsibilities catch up with Millennial parents, brand-switching kicks in; before children they over-index on H&M, Apple, Macy’s and Sephora – afterwards the pendulum swings to Dollar General, Lowe’s, Walmart and Value City.

But as we Boomer parents well know, swapping weekend getaways and cool brands for Little League and lawn mowers has its compensations.

State Farm is ahead of the game here. Its “Never” commercial says it all as a Millennial metro-dude transitions from a good times bachelor to even gooderer times in the suburbs with a wife, two kids and a minivan. Life happens.

As Millennials enter the mainstream, Boomer spending power still rules

Unfortunately, many older Millennials enter the consumer mainstream hampered by college loans, mediocre wages and the hefty costs of setting up their own household. It can be a challenge to budget just for the essentials.

September, 2014, data from the Federal Reserve shows households headed by people under 35 account for only 2% of total U.S. household net worth versus 67% for those headed by folks aged 55-plus. And, since averages are skewed by the most affluent minority in each age group – think Mark Zuckerberg – the median net worth picture is even tougher for the typical Millennial household.

U.S. HH Net Worth by Age of HH HeadMedian Household Net Worth: By Age Of Household Head

  • Under 35:  $10,400
  • 35-44:        $46,700
  • 45-54:        $105,300
  • 55-64:        $165,900
  • 65-74:        $232,000
  • 75-plus:     $194,000

Implication: it could be 2050 before typical Millenials who turn thirty this year achieve the current net worth of their 65 year old Boomer parents. And with millions still in high school, the full potential of Millennial generation spending power is decades away.

But, don’t worry marketing strategists, brands don’t have to go broke before Millennials are up to speed. Boomer spending power still rules, at least for disruptive thinkers.

Time to remove the 18-49 / 25-54 demographic blinkers

Okay. So the 55+ age group controls 67% of U.S. household net worth. Diving deeper into the Fed data, we find Americans in the 50+ space own a staggering 80% … slicing and dicing even further, our very own 93 million strong Boomer-Plus Generation™, born 1940-1965, controls over 70%.

Oddly, current demo-driven dogma knocks these spending-power heavyweights out of the race for mainstream brand share. Whether it’s the 18-49 or the 25-54 demographic, only a few advertising disruptives dare think creatively and compete for our business.

It’s time to follow the playbook of Triple Crown champion American Pharaoh who “had his blinkers removed, and since then he’s been on a roll” (HT SBNation.com). Let the Boomer / neXt trainers remove those demographic blinkers so your brand can grab the crown while the competition dozes in the stables.

Opportunity_Take off the blinkers

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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