by Kevin Coupe
There are some remarkable generational shifts taking place, all of which, I think, need to be recognized and embraced by marketers.
It is a New Year. No time like the present.
Axios had several stories highlighting these shifts.
• First, a story about Generation Alpha - "the only generation born fully in the 21st century: The oldest are about 13. The youngest will be born in the coming year."
Put this into context: The oldest members of Generation Alpha were born the same year as the iPad.
It is, the story says, the first generation "to live fully online. Its members have grappled with climate and pandemic — and can spend money more easily at their age than any previous generation."
Which is why "marketers are pouring money into figuring out the tastes and habits of Generation Alpha … they're weaned on TikTok, Amazon and in-app purchases. They're learning from their millennial parents to hold brands accountable for causes like social justice and sustainability. And no prior age cohort will be as large in size or marketing power."
This generation is expected "to be the largest in history at more than 2 billion people." It also is expected to be more ethnically diverse than previous generations, with concerns and priorities that reflect that diversity.
And these people, Axios argues, "already stand out from Gen Z in their worldliness, brand awareness and influence over household spending.
"They're not just pre-consumers: Their sway and leverage over adults' purchasing decisions surpass any prior generation, market researchers say.
"Most won't remember a world without COVID-19, an iPhone or the threat of environmental Armageddon."
• Also from Axios:
"The overall share of people living alone in the U.S. has been inching up … The Census Bureau says 'solitaries' made up 8% of all households in 1940. Solo households doubled to 18% in 1970 — and more than tripled to an estimated 29% by 2022."
This reflects the reality that "over the past 50 years, the marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 60%. Many people are also delaying marriage into their late 30s, early 40s or beyond. That means more people in their 20s and 30s are living alone.
"Among adults 60 and older, kinlessness (no living partner, children or siblings) is on the rise. That trend will likely continue for younger generations as more people opt not to start families."
There are lots of implications from tis trend. Among them, the emotional and health impact of isolation.
Axios notes that "although more people are living alone, cities and towns are still primarily set up for families."
And, I would add - so are most food stores. Which creates both challenge and opportunity for supermarkets, in terms of size, products and services as they try to be both relevant and resonant to their customers.
"The world population on New Year's Day will be just over 8 billion — up from 7.9 billion a year ago, the Census Bureau projected … that's an increase of 75 million, or 0.95%."
In the US, the population is close to "336 million — up nearly 2 million (0.53%) from a year ago. That's about half the global growth rate."
Axios writes that "if the current pace continues through the decade, the 2020s will be the slowest-growing decade in U.S. history … Previously, the slowest-growing decade was in the aftermath of the Great Depression in the 1930s."
The point is pretty simple, even if the solutions are not.
The people who are walking into your stores - and working in your stores - are changing. Almost in unprecedented ways.
It is why on this first work day of the new year, we have to pound home this Eye Opening message about the importance of avoiding we've-always-done-it-that-way syndrome.
Because increasingly, that way could prove to be the wrong way, the inadequate way, the inefficient way and unproductive way.
Gotta deal with it. No time like the present.