Marketing reflects stock market trends

By Monica Pitts

Just the other May my Edward Jones agent explained the cycles of the stock market to me. Now, I would like to assure you, I am certainly not about to give advice on the stock market. But the cycles that she highlighted really rang true, because they are the same trends I see in marketing.

She explained that there are four phases of spending in everybody’s lives:

  1. People up to age 25 are in the dependent phase where other people provide for them.
  2. People between age 26 and 45 are in the heavy spending phase. This is the time of life, when they are buying cars, houses, paying for daycare, raising kids. Money is flooding out the door.
  3. And then, age 46-65, is the saving phase when they focus their money on saving for retirement, and put it away.
  4. 65+ marks the retirement phase where the spend the money they saved.

The Effect of Boomers
Each generation has gone through these phases. The one we have felt most acutely are the Baby Boomers because they were the first big generation.

The market grew in the 80s as Boomers, moved through the heavy spending phase. Interest rates were high, matching the high demand for properties as Boomers made their first big purchases.

Post recession our interest rates stay low because Boomers have entered the savings phase and are making more conservative investments.

In 2019 there were 72 million Boomers, there was nearly 79 million at their peak in 1999. Then came Generation X with 66 million. Now the Millennial population officially outnumbers boomers at 73 million.

Prepping for the Millennial Shift
Now, the average age of millennials is 26, they are moving into the heavy spending phase of their lives. The future of businesses depends on our ability to adjust our processes to meet the needs and expectations of the millennial generation.

Notice I said processes. I didn’t say values.

You don’t have to change the core of your business. Don’t have to change who you are. Millennials value the same thing that you value.

They value family, honesty, transparency and a job well done. At the root Millennial values mirror Boomers’.

Remember Boomers initiated the Women’s Rights, and the Civil Rights movements. They were purveyors of change. Change that needed to happen. Millennials are the next purveyors of change. Change that needs to happen now.

So if a 21 year old millennial and a 21 year old Boomer had the opportunity to hang out they would be stealing street signs together. But as it happens one’s learning life’s lessons while the other is bailing them out of jail.

Adjust Processes to Meet Millennial Demands
You don’t have to change the core of your business to satisfy Millennials. You may however need to adjust your processes to meet their expectations.

The biggest difference between millennials and boomers are two things:

  1. The way they intake information is different.
  2. Their expectations are different.

The way they intake information is different.
Millennials use technology to communicate. We all know that. And they have little patience. They were raised in an age of immediate gratification amplified by the Internet, and cell phones.

Their expectations are different.
They have expectations of themselves, their lifestyles, the people that they work for and with. As they move into the heavy spending phase of life they are also moving into managerial roles within companies magnifying the impact they have on the way we do business.

Millennials just don’t have the patience to deal with crap that could be better, or just isn’t right. Lack of patience can feel like a lack of loyalty. While that makes us cringe it can also translate into a business opportunity. They won’t stick with a company that does a terrible or even a mediocre job. Forcing a survival of the fittest.

Embracing Technology to Improve Processes
As the 90’s technology boom set in all people could talk about was technology overtaking everything. I’m sure people felt the same way in the industrial revolution. I remember sitting through Rotary talks and listening to the old timers say that technology was going to kill the honest business.

I didn’t think so then and I don’t think so now. Companies that meet Millennial expectations are the honest businesses who have embraced technology in their processes but remained true to their values as a company. Millennials want more than any other generation to make the world a better place. Strong core values draw them to a company and the experience of working with a company is what makes them stay.

Be open to change, don’t change what makes you great.
I want to clarify, I’m not saying that you should just go out and change just for the sake of change. I’m saying be open to change. Look for the squeaky spots in your process. The ones that aren’t running the way that they used to run and aren’t nearly as successful. Then turn to technology for a solution. Allow the things that aren’t working well to act as opportunities to push you to deliver on the expectations of the Millennials.

Evolving Your Marketing Process
Now as for the inner workings of your company and all of the processes that make it tick…I am not qualified to advise on all of them. But one that I can advise on is marketing.

Marketing is a process within your company that is evolving rapidly and needs to meet the expectations of millennials, both from a hiring perspective and from a sales perspective. It may be a process you’re struggling with evolving or it might have tabled for a squeaker wheel.

Even if you don’t feel it at this very minute the tides are changing. You may not need to reach out to this younger demographic and have a conversation with them right now. But at some point you will. And just like your retirement, you can’t wait until you’re 65 and taking money out of your investments if you didn’t put anything into the account to begin with.

Building your brand and your marketing audience works exactly the same way. You have to invest in them. Even if it’s just a small amount right now, so you can cash it in when you need it.

Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.