Generation Y has moved well beyond the latest buzz word to an increasingly influential consumer force. Currently Gen Yers, or Millennials, make up 52% of the key 18-to-49 demographic, which means marketers can't afford to misunderstand them, particularly Gen Y women.
Here are seven things every marketer needs to know about Gen Y women:
- They're ethnically diverse Based on 2008 U.S. Census estimates, Millennial women (aged 15 to 34) are 59% Caucasian, compared to 72% of Baby Boomer women.
- They're educated Gen Y women are more educated than Gen Y men. According to the White House "Women in America" report, the percentage of women aged 25 to 34, with a college degree has more than tripled since 1968, while the share of men aged 25 to 34 has increased by one-half. Higher education rates for women holds true across multiple ethnicities.
- They're got disposable income For the first time in history, women are making more money than men, which means Gen Y women have more money to spend. USA Today reported last fall that women ages 22 to 30 with no husband or children earn eight% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan cities, with single Millennial women in Atlanta earning a whopping 21% more.
- They're delaying marriage Gen Y women aren't getting married at as young an age as their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors did. The White House report cited the median marrying age for women now is about 26, on a steady increase from about age 20 in the 1950s. In fact, now Gen Y men are the ones rushing to say "I do." In a study commissioned by Match.com, Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, found that men ages 21 to 34 are actually more eager to marry than their female counterparts.
- They're independent Gen Y women are reluctant to give up their personal freedom (which may be a factor in the uptick in marrying age). Fisher also noted that Gen Y women are more likely than their male counterparts to: want nights out with their friends on a regular basis, want their own bank accounts, say they need their personal space and to take their own vacations without their romantic partners.
- They're starting families Don't forget that a healthy chunk of Gen Y women are now mothers. The White House report estimates that about half of women aged 25 to 29 have a child. This means CPG companies, toy manufacturers and basically all companies targeting children/families/moms need understand Millennial moms. Post-Millennials (the yet-to-be-named generation following Millennials) are being raised primarily by Millennials and Xers. These moms have very different styles and philosophies, which need to be understood.
- They're household COOs Gen Y women may be getting married and starting families later than previous generations, but they are no less savvy in running their household, and often approach it with a business-like efficiency. At Magid, we call it the "rise of the Alpha Mom." These take-charge Alpha moms are working fulltime and still accounting for more of the household duties than their husbands, according to the White House report.
It's easy and tempting to lump all Millennial women into broad categories such as college students, young professionals or moms, but smart marketers will seek to understand Millennial women specifically. That understanding provides a vital additional layer of insight to the historically-proven broad categories and will make all the difference in actually engaging consumers, not just reaching them.