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It’s Time to Pass the Baton

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In our previous discussion about the Baby Boomer generation and its general decline in acquisition consumption we also stated that there was huge opportunity lurking on the horizon. That is, it is time to pass the baton to coming generations of customers. If you get out in front of the race, passing the baton will be effortless and immensely rewarding. If you lag behind, you may never catch up.

First out of the starting blocks is Generation X; born about 1961 to 1981. Much smaller than the Baby Boomer generation (46M VS 76M) X’ers have not fared as well financially as their parents at the same age despite being the most educated generation to date. These are the customers coming into your store today…the youngest cohort is just reaching household formulation age while the oldest among them is more established and approaching middle age. This generation, along with remaining Baby Boomer spending, is your key to making it through the next 5 years or so, when the much larger Generation Y begins to form households. But remember…Gen X does not have the same financial clout and is much smaller than the Boomer crowd. Expect some up and down years and manage your business accordingly.

Next out of the starting blocks is Generation Y…the “Millenial” generation born between about 1977 and 1998. At 75M strong they have numbers to compare to the Boomers. So far they have shown an inclination to marry and have children later to make sure they get it “right.” That means consumption patterns will be delayed accordingly. They also are the first generation to be raised with technology since early age. If you understand what this means to marketing and communication to this group you will indeed take advantage of the same kind of growth seen when the Boomers came of age. Take a look at where different age groups will be in their careers during the next 5 years:

As you can see, those beginning careers and heading into management by 2016 will have been immersed in technology before their teen years. To them, if it’s not on the Internet it doesn’t exist…if they can’t reach you through Facebook, Twitter or text, you won’t reach them at all.
How to succeed in this brave new world? Here are three suggestions:

1. Don’t fight the change…EMBRACE it. You will be better positioned to succeed if you don’t have to scramble to catch up.

2. When you create your five year plan (you have one, don’t you?), if it looks a lot like your previous plan, ask yourself if your business will be better or worse off if you just maintain the status quo. Be honest with your answer.

3. Do what you need to do to best implement a more technology-based approach based on your specific situation. It may mean investing in people or creating new strategic partnerships. Invest with the confidence that doing it right will give you a competitive advantage when opportunity knocks.

Prepare to pass the baton now. Every winner does it flawlessly.

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