I’m thinking about the extreme impact of the Great Recession and the housing meltdown. As recently as 2006, someone just starting out—say, in their twenties—was virtually priced-out of the home-buying market. Today, I know several folks in their twenties that are not only homeowners, but some who are even landlords, having taken-in renters. Not just to make ends meet… but to profit.
In the other extreme, I keep finding articles like this story from the NY Times, which suggests a different fate for other young-adult veterans of the Great Recession: People who cannot find that perfect “first career job.”
Implications: We over-generalize demographics at our own peril. With the end of WWII, many veterans came home to similar working conditions, building and living in similar suburbs, earning similar wages, and giving rise with their spouses to similar (baby boom) families.
Today, 18-34 is not a consistently descriptive demographic group. It is a diverse collection of people, with diverse means, motivations and purchasing tendencies. And the same could be said of 25-49s, 35-54s, or “seniors” (the definition of which depends on which restaurant menu you’re looking at).
It’s important to keep studying that group of people you think of as your customers and prospects. They might have little in common with each other, except that they are fans of your product, service, or company.