30 December 2008

Buying Habits of Different Generations

Generation Gap

My project over the winter holiday is to write an article about the buying habits of the different generations (Gen X, Baby-Boomers, etc). By the way - a big THANKS to all of you who participated in the survey earlier this month and forwarded it to your friends. I had nearly 275 responses!

To be honest, I took this writing assignment because I think our company's fevered pursuit of the 25-and-under demo is misguided - but I need hard data to prove my theory.
The survey was critical to the success of the article or it would have been a focus group of one. I'll disclose some of the findings in a later post (I'm still digging through it all) but if you have any additional thoughts on this topic, I hope you'll consider posting a comment below.

The company's rationale is: the Gen Y / Millenials are the largest consumer group in modern history. Our company must pursue them or lose them. While I agree that companies should be catering to this demographic, I don't think it's the right demographic for my company.

Our sport is sustained by people who purchase equipment, take trips, etc. This means a significant financial investment - vacations that are upwards of $1,000 per person and a set of equipment that ranges from $800 - $1,800.

From 19-25 I didn't have this kind of money: I bartered movie passes to get free oil changes for godsakes. It wasn't until my late 20's that I had any disposable income to speak of - so if we're going to target younger people, shouldn't it be college grads with a few years work experience under their belts?

The counter argument is, "the college kid can talk his/her parents into footing the bill for the gear and vacations." I'm not sure that's realistic unless you have the parents' buy-in to begin with (in other words - someone in the family already participates in our sport). Personally I could never have talked Mom into forking over for something like this. Helping me out with a car was one thing - it allowed me to have a job. She would not have seen the value of scuba diving lessons.

So is it still all about the baby boomers? Are they the cash cow? I'm not really sure. I think about other things boomers like (golf, taking cruises) and I don't see them bringing the younger generation along on those activities. Maybe it would be the same for diving.

What about Generation X? Often derided as "pessimistic" and "too small of a population" by marketers - maybe it's time to give a crap about the slacker generation. Hey, we invented Facebook doesn't that count for something?

Lastly, I'm having a hard time assigning "crunk" to Gen X or the Digital Generation (aka Millenials). If you have a sec, please vote in my poll.


Mac said...

I don't think the 'nag-factor' works for high-end lifestyle purchases. You're right, these kids don't have the $1,000 to burn and if they did it would be on clothes, tech or weed.

Honestly, since you want customers with repeat business, you need to target those with the $ who still want to try new things. And your 2 best targets are Gen Xers w/o kids and gay couples. A dual male discretionary income means lots of $ to burn, especially on vacations.

Anonymous said...

It does look like Ma is rolling one up in the photo!

Cary said...

I agree that it's a hard sell to get your parents to foot the bill on scuba. I think your company has spent too much time based near the Housewives of Orange County and not enough time around real people with kids in college.

Gen X is going to be where it's at until the millenials get some money of their own. Honestly, I'm really surprised no one is going after us. Sure, we're pessimistic but we're also more inclined to want to be anti-corporate than generations before us. Nothing says Scuba Instructor like an anti-corporate attitude.

Dinah said...

Mac's right: 30-something, no-kid Gen Xers and the gay community subsection is what you're going for, especially dudes. Dual male income, no kids? Those bastards outearn everyone, live high on the hog in WeHo, love to stay in shape and take a cruise every year. Plus, once the gays do it then it gets all trendy, and then everyone's doing it. ;)

Also, I read an article (in Glamour, so perhaps more research is needed, ahem) that more and more 20-something dudes are getting vasectomies/committing to No Kids early on. Could be a group of 20s to look at, the I Know I Never Want Kids So Now What Do I Spend My Money On? Group.

Finally if you want to appeal to the Lazy Gen Xer, like me, then you have to make it convenient as shit. Driving down to OC, getting a truckload of gear, shmeh whatever is the barrier to me trying scuba; not the money. I'd really love to try it, but if there was a pool within 20 minutes of my house teaching lessons? I'd be way more likely to start there. So maybe more local gym/pool partnerships & lessons?

Anonymous said...

Who said Gen X is the lazy generation. Do look at what they are creating including hey how about our current President?

Gen Y (aka Gen WHY) is:
"WHY do I have to be productive?"
"WHY do I have to do anything for anyone but me?"
"WHY can't stuff just be given to me because I'm like cool?"

Boomers do also have the income but the whole generation isn't able bodied enough to do the sport. Gen X is your smart outdoor generation who sporting business should be looking to reach out to - them and their kids who are no of age. Get them before they succumb to the Gen WHY-do-anything syndrome.