Not all affluent consumers are created equally. I’m not talking about dollar value here – I am talking about interests and age. It’s estimated that there are currently over 12 million Millennials with an annual income of over $100,000. Even with the “shortened” attention spans of Millennials, one would assume that marketing to this demographic is simple – just slap a notable label and an expensive price tag on a piece of merchandise and the wealthy will come running, right? Well, not necessarily.
Today’s wealthy fall into two different groups: Boomer Money and Millennial Money. To appeal to “Boomer Money,” marketers can still stick to the old principles. Baby Boomers come from a world in which wealth was displayed through traditional status symbols, such as a luxury car, a large house, or an expensive suit. Not to take away from the marketers of yesteryear, but half the work was (and still is) done when trying to appeal to Boomers. The desire to own these things was already there. Forcing a purchase just required enough money and a little nudge.
Enter the wealthy Millennial. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this generation has different tastes than its parent generation, but those different tastes don’t simply stop at styles – overall values have changed. In the past I have highlighted the fact that Millennials often seek experiences over material possessions. This still holds true, but it can be revised a bit. Said better, Millennials seek material possessions that will enhance an experience. No concept supports this statement better than the clamoring for new technology and active social media use by Generation Y.
A great deal has been made about the Millennial aversion to cars and driving (not all, but a notable amount). Why is this? Well in many respects, a car does not enhance an experience. A taxi, subway, or bicycle can get a person from Point A to Point B just as easily as an owned car. But a luxury item such as an iPhone 5S can be a game changer when it comes to enhancing a night out. As a matter of fact, the smartphone and social media are really the perfect pair for attracting Millennial attention. Their main purpose is, more than anything, to allow their owner to show his or her friends what an awesome experience they are having.
This obviously isn’t touching upon anything new. Marketers and non-marketers are well aware of the symbiotic relationship between Millennials, smartphones, and social media. However, brands need to realize that said relationship represents the biggest difference between Millennials and Boomers. Not only have the values changed, but the way in which they are enjoyed largely differs as well. It is not enough for a luxury brand to just slap its name on a bag, shoes, or car hood anymore. While Boomers are still a large segment of the population, brands must highlight practicality, push comfort, and show experience for the up-and-coming generation of affluent.