MBPT Spotlight: Marketers Need To Start Paying Attention Now If They Hope To Reach Five Consumer Segments Of Consequence in 2020

It takes time to build credibility with consumers who do not know and trust you. As a result, brand marketers need to look out to the horizon to identify consumer groups that are gaining in influence and financial clout, and decide which deserve their attention and investment today.

Those who wait too long are likely to be passed over in favor of those who show sincere interest (and investment) before they “have to.” We currently see five target audiences that are not only gaining in buying power and influence, but are also too often pigeon-holed in their presumed habits, preferences and needs.

Boomers (Born 1946–1964)
Boomers are the largest generational segment in our lifetime, accounting for almost one-quarter of the population; they control nearly three times the amount of disposable income held by younger generations. While we label them all “boomers,” the older members of this segment are likely to have been personally (and perhaps dramatically) impacted by World War II, while others were born many years later into the decade of peace and love.

How could all these people look and think the same? They can’t, and yet, how often do we see boomers represented as white-haired, happy retirees, fussing over golf clubs or grandchildren? The answer is too often—and that has to change.

Two things to remember:
• By 2020, most boomers will be retired and able to spend money on items that will fuel more active lifestyles than those their parents lived at the same age. There will be big opportunities for cars, travel, electronics, health and medical insurance brands.
• The digital revolution has changed the way we carry out everyday tasks, and it’s no different for boomers, who enjoy the convenience of doing anything and everything online far more often than many brands seem to expect.

Millennials (Born 1977–1994)
Millennials will make up nearly half the global workforce by 2020. Many have seen their families live through economically challenging times, including the financial crisis of 2008. In 2012, AP reported that one in two new college graduates in the U.S. were either unemployed or underemployed, and for many, finding full-time work will mean having disposable income for the first time. By 2020, many will be starting their own families, making them likely buyers of automobiles, household furnishings, clothes and baby items, in addition to medical and financial products and services.

Three things to remember:
• Millennials consider themselves individualists and appreciate being able to personalize content and products to suit their own preferences.
• Brands with a purpose are transparent and authentic. Millennials expect you to clearly express a point of view and reinforce it in every decision you make.
• Anytime, anywhere communication is vital for this group. Millennials expect your brand to be accessible via every channel and to fit their device and platform preferences, not the other way around.

Dads (Men who have children living with them)
The number of dads involved in household purchasing decisions will be on the rise between now and 2020. There are a number of factors driving this dynamic, including an increasing amount of females making more than their male partners and a rising population of single-father homes. In the United States alone, the number of such households has increased from less than 300,000 in 1960 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.

Two things to remember:
• When it comes to ads for products and services targeted at parents, dads don’t want to be forgotten. Messages that include involved fathers have a greater chance of being well received without producing a negative reaction among women.
• Dads have not yet caught up to women when it comes to using digital channels for everyday shopping and buying. When grocery shopping for the family, dads are more likely to use traditional media to help make decisions.

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)
The LGBT community has significant purchasing power, spending in 2012 an estimated $790 million in the United States alone (according to MarketResearch.com). They’re also loyal to supportive brands: Per a Harris Research/Witeck Communications study, 58% percent of LGBT adults were more likely to purchase from companies that market directly to gays and lesbians.

As LGBT citizens gain legal rights around the world, including the right to marry and adopt, they will become a more influential and vocal group. In fact, LGBT households already have a 23% higher median household income and 24% more equity in their homes compared to the general market in the U.S. (Prudential).

Two things to remember:
• While the LGBT segment is currently more inclined to spend on experiential services such as travel, home and tech products, this is changing as their households become more traditionally familial, so messages about toys and other kid-focused products and services will become increasingly relevant.
• The LGBT community is more richly varied than the common portrayal of upper middle-class white (and sometimes African-American) males, and members of the LGBT community have wide-ranging interests and concerns outside of their sexual identity, including the environment and social justice.

Hispanic (Multicultural)
Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., and the majority of the population growth in the country is attributed to this segment. By 2020, it is projected that this group will make up almost 20 percent of the U.S. population. Most important, this demographic segment will have buying power of nearly $2 trillion in 2020. Hispanic millennials are seen as trendsetters and tastemakers for all population groups. As their numbers swell, their influence will continue to grow.

Three things to consider when targeting this segment:
• Spanish-language advertising is generally more effective for Hispanics, even among English-dominant Hispanics.
• Collaborative decision-making is common among Hispanics, so advertising should sometimes be geared toward the influencer rather than the decision-maker.
• Hispanics are early adopters of mobile technology.

It is critical that brands recognize the new wave of consumer groups that will have enormous purchasing power by 2020. Those that don’t will run the risk of losing their customer base, falling behind and becoming irrelevant; those that do are likely to earn loyal and vocal new fans.

Griffiths, strategy director for MediaCom USA, joined MediaCom in 2010, where she initially worked in the agency’s Sydney office before moving to the U.S. strategy operation. Prior to MediaCom, she was a communications strategist at ZenithOptimedia and Universal McCann.