JWT's 'New Adulthood' Study

There is a new micro-demographic for advertisers that is reshaping the face of adulthood, according to J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group. The Group’s just-issued report, "The New Adulthood," examines the attitudes and behaviors of 30-to-45-year-olds and what those traits mean for brands.

"It sits with a bigger cultural shift where, thanks to rising emphasis on health, extended life spans, cultural change and social media, age in general is becoming more nebulous and blurred," says Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group, JWT.

The way the industry previously grouped consumers is becoming "more fragmented and moving toward something much more individual, she says. Among the key takeaways within the 184-page report: Today's emerging adults are spearheading the wellness movement.

Motherhood  is increasingly viewed through a “natural” lens as part of this extension of the wellness ideology, which will affect purchasing decisions. Anti-aging doesn’t sell for this demographic. Neither does hyper-trendy millennial marketing. These new adults deserve their own focus from beauty brands, per the report.



The generation raised on technology believes anything can be tracked via an app. Brands would do well to keep new technology on their radar. "What’s clear particularly when it comes to women in this group is that brands need to consider carefully how they talk about age, beauty and stereotypes," says Greene. "All of this is in flux."

Though millennials have a reputation as budget-conscious travelers, this generation is rapidly shedding its frugal lifestyle. The next generation of adults will soon command serious disposable income: $1.4 trillion in annual spending in the U.S. aloneby 2020, according to Accenture.

This means their tastes are expected to evolve beyond hostel hopping and low-cost flights. Advertisers need to make sure they evolve with them, advises JWT. Some brands are beginning to combine millennial aesthetics with upscale offerings. In Europe, for instance, U by Uniworld will launch in 2018 as the first line geared towards millennial cruisers.

Emerging adults are not afraid to buck the norms of previous generations to solve the work-life balance, whether that’s a father taking on the majority of childcare or a mother starting a child-focused company online.

Brands should address these changing realities when it comes to the traditional family structure. Millennials take a frank, realistic approach to talking about life’s challenges, whether that’s parenthood or financial struggles, and they expect brands to do the same.

They also want their work and brands they support to have a sense of social purpose. Innovation is important to them, whether that’s within a company or product packaging.

"They are looking for brands that are ethical, responsible and straight talking. They are looking for employers that offer flexibility and impact – or they’re starting up their own businesses," says Greene.

"We’ll need to reexamine the way we group people by age, attitude and circumstance much more regularly," she says.

"The New Adulthood" features case studies of what JWT identifies as the 'New Types' and the 'Lifestyle Types,' which are then broken down into 12 detailed sub-groups, such as the 'New Adult Festivalgoer' and the 'Xennial Entrepreneur.'

The report surveyed 1,755 U.S. and 1,768 UK consumers in July and August 2017, via JWT's research unit Sonar. See more from the report here.


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