Businesses have to adapt to a future where ways of living, working and playing are changing rapidly. We can no longer put people in neat demographic boxes because people of all ages in all markets are constructing their own identities more freely than ever. As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income family status and more. So, you can stop trying to figure out the differences between Gen X and Gen Y because ‘generational generalizations’ are fast becoming a thing of the past.
Here are a few reasons why it’s time to throw out the tired and traditional demographic approach to consumer behavior:
- 67% of men now say they’d be willing to change jobs to achieve a better balance of family life, versus 57% of women. (EY INTERACTIVE)
- Asked to plot themselves on a ‘sexuality scale’, 49% of British 18-24 year olds chose something other than 100% heterosexual. (YOUGOV)
- 74% of Chinese shoppers are likely to consider whether a product is fair trade or environmentally friendly, a higher proportion than in Australia or New Zealand. (MASTERCARD)
- Out of the thousands of applicants on a waitlist for free coding classes at the New York Public Library, 73% are women. (NY PUBLIC LIBRARY)
So What? What does this mean for your business and how should you navigate in this post-demographic world? Four immediate innovation opportunities present themselves.
- Embrace and celebrate new racial, social, cultural and sexual norms.
- Be prepared to re-examine or even overturn your brand heritage.
- Look to seemingly foreign demographics for inspiration.
- Focus on ever smaller niches of interest rather than circumstance.
Whole Foods’ Misguided Play for Millennials
In 2015, Whole Foods announced that it was planning to open a separate chain of stores designed to appeal to millennials. According to then Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb, these new stores would feature “modern, streamlined design, innovative technology, and a curated selection” of lower-priced organic and natural foods.
The reaction from millennials: facepalm
The collective dismay was not about the concept. After all, who wouldn’t love to shop for lower-priced, organic, and natural foods in a store that boasts a clean and modern design? But, by describing this new concept as “geared toward millennial shoppers,” Whole Foods was essentially saying that everyone else was just fine with old, cluttered stores that sell a confusing array of stuff at really high prices.
The reaction from the marketplace: epic fail
Excerpted from Harvard Business Review.