The Adults of Generation Y in the U.S.: Hitting the Demographic, Lifestyle and Marketing Mark

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Published Dec 1, 2008 | 303 Pages | Pub ID: LA1282382

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The most ethnically diverse and technologically savvy generation in U.S. history, the adults of Generation Y, born from 1979 to 1990, number about 40 million. Also known as Echo Boomers, Millennials and a host of other catchy titles, Gen Y adults tend to be self-confident, team-spirited, politically liberal and more digitally literate than their elders. They take for granted the quick convenience and seemingly infinite options afforded by cell phones, the Internet, indulgent parents and a marketplace eager to meet their mercurial tastes. Gen Y adults also stay single longer, remain more emotionally and financially attached to their parents, and delay their own parental responsibilities longer, while indulging their inner child more vigorously, than the generations before them.

Despite their shaky finances and breezy approach to workplace demands, the cohort’s strong affinity for personal fame and wealth are likely to translate into serious financial clout over time, to the tune of some $3.5 trillion by middle age. A penchant for instant gratification and customizable products, along with demand for socially responsible corporate policies and a wariness of inauthentic advertising, means that marketers must launch ever more creative, multilayered and inclusive campaigns to reach their target Gen Y segment—a daunting task considering the constant trade-offs between Gen Y adults’ frequent homogeneity in mindset and wild diversity in individual preferences.

Drawing on uniquely cross-tabulated Simmons Market Research Bureau winter 2008 survey data, BIGresearch’s monthly Consumer Intentions & Actions surveys, and government and private sector data sources, this report examines common attitudes and motivations among the Gen Y adult cohort, particularly their tendency to trust friends and celebrity endorsements in their purchasing choices, their insistence on influencing product offerings and advertising, and an accompanying blurring in their analytical boundaries between “retail” and “real life.” The report gives special attention to green and other social concerns within the cohort and their use of a wide range of social networking media to pursue their goals.

An overview of Gen Y adult attitudes and spending trends introduces five lifestyle chapters:

  • Demographics: Millennials are very ethnically and culturally diverse, with a multicultural outlook and a left-leaning political orientation. The younger cohort, age 18-24, account for 59% and Hispanics a powerful 22% of the adult Echo Boom.
  • Finances: Gen Y’s love-hate relationship with credit cards, education expenses and high APRs, combined with a desire for luxury products and a seeming inability to save money, means they tend to be cash-crunched.
  • Technology, Media and Marketing: Media saturated and digitally dependent for their sense of self, Millennials experience media, technology, socialization, advertising, community and personal consciousness as almost seamlessly integrated.
  • Eating In, Dining Out: With a developing preference for organic, functional and sustainably farmed produce, Gen Y adults embrace healthy, well-balanced meals as long as they come in snazzy recyclable containers, don’t require cooking and don’t interfere with snacking.
  • Wellness, Work and Leisure: Not so much about anti-aging and physical fitness, Gen Y wellness means that leisure and work should be personally fulfilling; that community and environmental health are a team effort, preferably supported by one’s employer; and that relationships are the key to personal well-being.
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