This has been one of the most unusual years. From the onset of January to the post-Election hangover, there seems to be a low, under-the-surface roiling that has affected consumers – and ultimately us marketers. People point to a lot of high signs with the presidential race being the most visible and impactful. But, the reality is that a lot of the tumult has been afoot for a while. And, this being a marketing and communications piece (not political) let me focus on the implications.
- The divide between the “haves” and “have-nots” has never been starker. And, the “have-nots” should not be categorized as the “poor,” but those who feel disenfranchised. This group has been around since the 1980s and has gotten bigger over time. Laurel Cutler, a strategic planner at Foote, Cone & Belding, a major international advertising agency headquartered in Chicago, identified this consumer group. The most predominant trait was they felt outside of the system and were looking in. Her findings weren’t based on racial or religious underpinnings. These where “average Americans” who as time went on felt as if they were being left behind. And, as the Presidential Election proved, they have grown and make up a large swath of our population. So, the implication is simple – Is your brand and message taking this angst-driven group into consideration? Is your communication inclusive, or are you inadvertently alienating someone? Remember, this group flew under the radar, and even the most sophisticated pollers and political comm folks missed them.
- The generational differences are going to minimize. As Baby Boomers continue to age, they are slowly moving out of the mainstream consumer groups and falling into the segment that is looking at fixed incomes, longer life spans and less expendable income. Warning, if your brand and business is too heavily skewed to this group, you are going to be in trouble. See points 3 and 4.
- The GenXers and Millennials are here. They are the ones who now comprise the largest segment of consumers with growing disposable income. And note, just like their parents, they are going to be the beneficiaries of the roughly $41 trillion of wealth transferred from their elderly parents to them. If you haven’t thought about reaching this market, you need to start thinking about it.
- The concept of “generation” is also a state of mind and not physical age. There are many people who act as if they are baby boomers and others who act like Millennials. Granted, the majority of people fall within their age group. But things like the adoption of technology, social media, attitudes toward authorities, financial security and aspirations sometime fall outside of age.
- Lastly, a shift in technology communication is underway, again. What worked 3 to 5 years ago may not work now. And, for the 2nd year in a row laptop sales fell…and it is forecasted to slow even more in 2017. Fewer and fewer are finding traditional display ads as effective. The obvious reason, the mobile phone. It has disrupted so many facets of our lives – if not taken over – that it has changed the way people view consumer information. And, how they interact with brands and organizations.
So, where does that leave us? For one thing, it means you need to take a good hard look at your high-level strategic plans. If you have not done so over the past two years, you should pull it out and re-evaluate. New products and services – yes – are something you need to contemplate. Whether it is integrating more technology into what you make or how you serve, don’t discount the fact that 20 years of technology immersion has changed consumer expectations. But also get rid of features no cares about and add those that your audience now does. And, I’m sure as you review your plans and offerings, you will find more that needs to be adjusted and changed
And, don’t forget, we are here to help. Let us help you prepare for the new year ahead with a strategic plan that will yield results. Call for a consultation, and allow us to show you how we can shape your business marketing so that it resonates with your entire customer base in the most efficient and effective way.