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Marketers, Meet Your Future Customers

Young consumers and Latinos are fueling the economic recovery.

As we look toward a future beyond the recession, marketers are fixing their sights on the customers who will be at the core of the economic recovery. In the past it was the Baby Boomers, with their optimistic attitudes, sheer numbers and buying power, who helped pull America out of recessions. But not this time. Those born between 1946 and 1964 have been hit hard and they've seen their savings and retirement accounts decimated. So close to retirement age, their focus on practicality will likely continue well into the economic recovery years. And Baby Boomer interests will turn more toward home, finance, healthcare, personal care and lifestyle issues, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Retail Forward.

This time the economic recovery will be driven by the affluent segments of Gen X and the young Gen Y, plus another source that many marketers have failed to consider--the growing Hispanic market.

Gen X and Gen Y: The Newest Gadgets and Technology Rule
It's the Gen X and Gen Y demos that have disposable income, says PricewaterhouseCooper, and they spend differently and have different ways of seeking bargains than Boomers. Though there is discrepancy among sources, Gen Xers are generally described as individuals born between 1965 and 1976, up to the late 70s, and Gen Y (also known as Millennial) consumers were born from the late 70s or 1980 to the early-mid 90s.

The reports suggests "up-market affluents," a segment of the Gen X market, will have a meaningful positive impact on the recovery due to their stage in life and above-average spending potential. About 60 percent of Gen Xers have attended college, though they may work to live rather than live to work as many Boomers do.

For the young Gen Y consumers between 18 and 27 who were surveyed, just 25 percent say the economy has significantly changed their spending behavior. This is likely due to their higher proportion of discretionary income as a result of fewer debts and a less urgent need to save. Marketers must take into consideration their preference for texting and online communication rather than phone or face-to-face communication and other forms of interaction, which remain more popular with Boomers and Gen Xers.

Gen Y consumers are accustomed to instant gratification and keeping up with the latest gadgets and spending on technology staples will remain a priority.

Latinos: A Growing Demographic That Values Family and Home
More than 15 million Hispanics in the US command $1 trillion in buying power, according to a new Hispanic marketing trends survey commissioned by Orci. Latinos make up more than 15 percent of the population and are predicted to number 50 million after the 2010 census. That's an increase of 42 percent since 2000. Hispanics are the heaviest users of wireless access to mobile phones and laptops and 80 percent of Latinos socialize online.

Campaigns targeting Latinos will benefit entrepreneurs marketing everything from diapers to fashion and beauty. According to a recent study from The Nielsen Company, Hispanic shoppers, on average, spend more on products for babies and children and more on food consumed at home when compared to the general population.

Marketers targeting Hispanic demos should take into account specific cultural differences and ethnic preferences. For example, according to the Pew Hispanic Center's National Survey of Latinos, more than half of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family's country of origin, and an additional 20 percent generally use the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" first when describing themselves. They are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. A valuable market indeed.
 

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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