Our Strategic Partner Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads gives us his insight and suggestions on the cultural shifts taking place all around us.
Marketing in 2005 and Beyond
The Age of the Baby Boomer ended in 2003. The torch has been handed to a new generation with new ideas and values. Sure, we Boomers still hold the power at the top, but the prevailing worldview that drives our nation is completely other than the one we grew up with. Businesses that don’t get in step with the new world order are going to find it increasingly difficult to succeed. Being a Baby Boomer isn’t about when you were born.
It’s about how you see the world.
Baby Boomers were idealists who worshipped heroes, perfect icons of beauty and success. Today these icons are seen as phony, posed and laughable. Our cool as ice, suave lady’s man James Bond has become the comic poser Austin Powers or the tragically flawed and vulnerable Jason Bourne of The Bourne Identity. That’s the essence of the new worldview; the rejection of delusion, a quiet demand for gritty truth. We’re seeing it reflected in our movies, our television shows and our music.
Baby Boomers swayed back and forth to the lyrics of a 1971 Coke commercial featuring teenagers from around the world singing, “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love, grow apple trees and honeybees and snow white turtle doves. I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company…” The idea was pure and wholesome, but it required no action other than belief. Today’s generation would retch if that ad were aired, saying, “What has Coke actually done to promote world peace? Nothing. They’re a bunch of phony posers.” Consider the lyrics to the Grammy-winning, Record of the Year for 2004 by Coldplay: “Come out upon my seas, cursed missed opportunities. Am I a part of the cure? Or am I part of the disease?”
Baby Boomers believed in big dreams, reaching for the stars, personal freedom, “be all that you can be.” Today’s generation believes in small actions, getting your head out of the clouds, social obligation, “do your part.”
A Baby Boomer anchored his or her identity in their career. The emerging generation sees his or her job only as a job.
Baby Boomers were diplomatic and sought the approval of others. The emerging generation feels it’s more honest to be blunt, and they really don’t care if you approve or not.
Boomers were driven, self-reliant and impressed by authority. Emergents are laid back, believe in working as a team, and have less confidence in “the boss.”
Idealistic Boomers had an abundance mentality, believed in a better world, and were opulent in their spending. Emergents see scarcity, believe in doing what it takes to survive, and are more fiscally conservative.
Based solely on the core values of the emerging generation, here’s what I believe we can expect to see beginning to happen during the next 3 to 4 years:
1. A decline among prestige brands such as Rolex, Harley-Davidson and Gucci.
2. The end of “upwardly mobile” as a slang expression.
3. A decline in the effectiveness of traditional advertising.
4. Comparison-shopping to be done increasingly online, though purchasing will remain in brick-and-mortar stores in many product categories.
5. An increase in volunteerism and donor support to socially responsible organizations.
6. A slow increase in the popularity of labor unions.
7. A slight decrease in the divorce rate as couples become increasingly committed to family unity and fall less under the spell of idealistic “true love.”