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Generational Spending: A Special Report
Every consumer belongs somewhere. And spends accordingly.
For the rest of the November 2008 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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It’s been two years since our November 2006 special issue on Generation Nation—a look at how the American marketplace had divided itself into four camps of varying size and influence. Since then, the United States population did in fact top 300 million, as expected—you can keep tabs on it over at the U.S. Census Bureau’s population clock (http://snurl.com/popclock1).

In revisiting the topic, we’ve kept the same four groups—Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Matures—but that’s about where the similarities end. We’ve tried approaching the subject in a different way, to account for the changes that have taken place not just in CRM but in American society. What we’ve tried to do is help define the mind-set of these groups, to get a sense of the collective worldview of the members in each generation.

The intent is to help marketers and strategists come to grips with the notion that between the extremes of a many-to-many and a one-to-one model, there resides a some-to-some gray area that needs to be addressed.

The economy has certainly been cast into stark relief. The nationwide banking crisis began playing out as we assembled this report, and while the ripple effects of a possible $1 trillion bailout will surely impact us all, each of our little groupings is going to be facing a very different set of new or more difficult obstacles. Generation Y may find itself unable to get college or home loans. Matures may spend the next 10 years wishing they’d been faster to pull their equity from the stock market. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers may find themselves squeezed between responsibilities involving both older and younger family members.

There are difficulties with this approach—most notably the fallacy that generations really come with hard and fast boundaries. Ask any number of people to name the birth year of the oldest member of Generation Y, and you may get any number of answers.

Wherever possible, we’ve relied on the Census Bureau for the youngest boundary of each cohort—1945 (the Matures), 1964 (Baby Boomers), 1976 (Generation X), and 1994 (Generation Y). You may quibble with the cutoff points, but that would only serve to miss the larger issue: If you’re not looking at these consumers according to how they look at themselves, then you’re missing out on maximizing your abilities to target, acquire, retain, and serve each of them.

And make no mistake: They know who they are—and they’re expecting you to know them as well.

Act Your Age! {Consumers Do.}
Not every move we make is tied to how old we are. But consumers can be targeted, if you recognize the similarities and patterns.

Who, What, Where, When, Y
The members of Generation Y are young, they’re smart, and they’re paving their own way. So who’s following whom?

The Slackers’ X-cellent Adventure
Generation X has a reputation for aimlessness, but in truth its members are concerned about the future—and they’re using their resources accordingly.

The Boomer Boom
Revolutionary from the day they were born, baby boomers will continue to dictate—with their wallets—how they’re targeted by marketers.

The Matures Endure
They’re sticking around longer—that means their spending money has to last as long as they do.

Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationcrm.com/subscribe/.

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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