Visa Tells Marketers: Turn Your Attention To Echo Boomers

All that influence you've had all these years? Step aside--the Echo Boom is here, and marketers are turning their attention to the kids.

Visa USA, which commissioned a survey of Echo Boomers (born 1979 to 1989) and Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), reports at least one interesting irony: even though the older crowd generally has a negative attitude toward the younger demographic, the kids see having money as a way to give back to others, especially family members and charities.

One thing the generations agree on is this: Both are concerned about saving for retirement.

Echo Boomers are the nation's second-largest generation and, eight years hence, will account for approximately $2.45 trillion in annual spending.

This generation appears to be misunderstood.

Visa finds that Echos are more practical and mature in their spending habits and more generous to others--characteristics often not associated with them.

"The Baby Boomer generation has had a profound influence on the U.S. economy over the past several decades," says Wayne Best, Visa USA's chief economist, in a news release. "However, as they enter the 'golden years' and their spending influence wanes, we must begin to focus on the even larger spending impact that Echo Boomers will have on our economy."

The study reveals that Echo Boomers, who believe they are facing a difficult economic future, are demonstrating a more practical and mature approach to spending beyond their years.

  • Nearly half of Echo Boomers (48%) describe themselves as savers.
  • When it comes to shopping, Echo Boomers are focused on getting more value for their money: 69% consider themselves wait-and-see shoppers, and 83% say they are bargain shoppers.
  • 80% of Echo Boomers stick to a strict budget when making purchases, and 81% describe themselves as trying to cut back on what they spend.
  • Even at their young age, more than 70% of Echo Boomers are concerned about having enough money for retirement, a degree of concern similar to the about-to-retire Baby Boomers (78%).

While Echo Boomers view themselves as responsible spenders, they are increasingly skeptical as to whether their entire generation is doing the same. According to the survey, when asked to compare their peers to members of other generations, 65% of Echo Boomers believe their generation is falling behind economically, and 81% do not believe their generation is spending more responsibly.

Although Echo Boomers have been characterized as a generation too focused on its own wants and needs and unmindful of others, survey data suggests that they view spending as a way to give back to others, particularly family members and charities.

  • 88% of Echo Boomers like to buy things for others more often than buying things just for themselves.
  • If they had extra or discretionary money to spend, 63% of Echo Boomers would most likely spend that money on something for others.
  • Approximately 81% of Echo Boomers say they are giving what they can to charities.

According to the survey, Echo Boomers' and Baby Boomers' perceptions of each other provide striking contrasts. Whereas Echo Boomers have mostly positive views of their older counterparts, Baby Boomers have largely negative views of Echo Boomers and tend to misunderstand this generation.

  • Only 25% of Baby Boomers describe the Echo Boomers as an admirable generation compared to 68% of Echo Boomers who admire Baby Boomers.
  • Approximately 68% of Baby Boomers believe Echo Boomers are too self-centered and focused upon themselves.
  • While Baby Boomers have a desire for youth, only 7% would prefer to be a member of the Echo Boomer generation.

When you consider that many of the individuals setting business and marketing strategy today are Baby Boomers," says Susanne Lyons, CMO, Visa USA, "it's alarming to see that as a generation, they have various misconceptions of a demographic projected to be so influential."

Additional highlights from "How America Spends" include:

  • According to the Yankelovich Monitor, being seen as "financially successful" is important to 49% of Echo Boomers, a 13% increase since 2002.
  • Echo Boomers (77%) more often feel the need to manage their spending better than Baby Boomers (66%).
  • Echo Boomers believe they have more stress and anxieties compared to other generations (71%).
  • Nearly half of Echo Boomers (49%) think that they do not have a better life compared to other generations.
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