New York, NY—Now that the oldest baby boomers are eligible for Medicare and the youngest are nearing 50, retailers—not the least of which, jewelers—are frantically trying to figure out the formula for enticing the Millennial generation; i.e., the next big wave of shoppers.
The oldest of this generation, depending on which demographer one asks, is anywhere from age 24 to age 32, which puts it either on the cusp of marrying age or solidly in it. That’s great news for bridal sales, but what about other fine jewelry?
It’s been a challenge not only for jewelers but all retailers to figure out what turns these consumers on. We know customization and individuality are important, as are social and environmental responsibility, and that tattoos have gone mainstream. But in some ways this group is more family-oriented and less rebellious than their boomer parents.
Over the coming months, The Centurion will examine the topic of selling to the next generation in a series of articles. But for a start, here is some interesting food for thought about what’s going on in the minds of these consumers.
Beloit College, in Beloit, WI, compiles an annual list of the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of freshmen entering its halls. The list was established in 1998 by Tom McBride, Beloit’s Keefer professor of the humanities, and Ron Nief, former public affairs director. It was originally intended to alert faculty to dated references in teaching, but it quickly became a catalogue of the rapidly changing worldview of each generation. This year’s freshman class—the class of 2014—was born in 1992.
Here is an excerpt from the 2010 Beloit College Mindset List; the complete list can be found at www.beloit.edu/mindset:
*Few of the class know how to write in cursive. Indeed, even email is too slow.
*Korean cars always have been a staple on American highways, and American companies always have done business in Vietnam.
*Fergie is a pop singer, not an ex-princess.
*They’ve never twisted the coiled handset wire of a telephone around their wrists while chatting (or been tethered to the base unit by a wire.)
*Computers have never lacked a CD-Rom disk drive. The first computer they ever touched was probably an Apple II and it’s now in a museum.
*Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closets, this generation has never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
*They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day. Indeed, with cell phones, there’s no real “need” for a wristwatch.
*One-quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a priority unless it involves aliens from another planet.
*Czechoslovakia has never existed.
*Kurt Cobain was always dead and Nirvana is on classic oldies radio
*Americans and Russians always have lived together in space; they’ve never been worried about a missile strike from Russia.
*There have always been 500 TV channels. (Complaining that there’s nothing to watch, however, remains a time-honored tradition.)
*Ruth Bader Ginsburg always sat on the Supreme Court
(Editor’s note: We might also add that to this consumer, designer jewelry was always sold as its own brand, jewelry has always been sold on TV, and researching it online is just what you do before shopping.)