Cyndi Greenglass

Move over Millennials – Here Comes the Plurals
Posted by Cyndi Greenglass on November 19, 2014 in Targeting & Segmentation

by Cyndi W. Greenglass, Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions

In 2014, the last Millennial turns 18 and will graduate from high school. It’s a significant milestone for the largest and most influential adult population in America’s history. Right below the Millennials is the generation of those 17 and younger, which has been dubbed the “Pluralist Generation.”  This new group has begun to influence the way marketers look at the youth-, tween-, and teen-targeted markets. According to Magid’s white paper on the Pluralist Generation, no one knows how this cohort will develop over the next 10 years, but initial trends are starting to emerge.

Plurals have been impacted by the following major events in
their lives:

•       The continual erosion of dominant media

•       The rapid emergence of fragmented and niche-based voices

•       The power of ground-up consensus building

•       The bold contrast of Gen X and Baby Boomer parenting styles

•       The second-longest economic decline in U.S. history

In addition, Plurals represent the most ethnically diverse generation to date, with only 55 percent being Caucasian, compared to 72 percent among Baby Boomers.

Psychographics of Plurals
Current research indicates that, counter to conventional wisdom, Plurals are the least likely to believe in the concept of the “American Dream.”  This lack of optimism, combined with their lack of trust in adults, is a key attitude that marketers will need to consider as they communicate with this emerging consumer group. While Plurals may have their feet firmly planted in the pragmatic world, they show considerable hope. They describe themselves as “hopeful” and “proud,” but are also more likely than adult generations to say “pleased” and “energized,” which suggests an eagerness and willingness to take on their imminent responsibility of ushering in change.

Plurals embrace diversity in all of its splendor. Their social circles are more diverse than those of older generations, and they are more likely than Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and adult Millennials to have friends and acquaintances who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, mixed race, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, middle-class, or very wealthy. Furthermore, more than half of Plurals agree that they would like their social circle to become even more diverse.

Media Consumption and Attitudes of Plurals
Today’s teens are consumed by media, and they are frequently multitasking. Their simultaneous activities may include social networking, viewing video, exchanging instant messages, viewing graphics and photos, listening to music, watching TV, playing games, looking up information, and catching up on the news.

Plurals also divide their media usage among many platforms: cell phones, iPods, tablets, gaming devices, televisions, computers, and printed materials. They use different devices for different purposes in different places.

Teen use of mobile has skyrocketed. It is not all texting and talking, nor is it just rich kids with data plans who can do more on their phones. Social networking has likewise soared in importance, becoming indispensable and ubiquitous in the lives of most teens, especially older ones.

Here are some specific statistics on Plural media usage from three important studies:
•       Technology has powered an explosion of media usage among young people in the last five years—so much so that young people spend about as much time consuming media every day (7 hours, 38 minutes) as their parents spend working, according to a study of 8-to-18-year-olds by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

•       Factoring in the additional media consumed in multitasking, young people pack 10 hours’ worth of media content into every day. That figure does not include time spent talking or texting on cell phones or using computers for schoolwork. This is an increase of almost two hours of daily media exposure in the last five years.

•       Online readership does not make up for the loss in print readership. Plurals surveyed by
the Kaiser Family Foundation reported spending an average of two minutes reading newspapers or magazines online in 2009. Those who said they do read print newspapers spend an average of 14 minutes a day at it, down three minutes from 2004. This trend continues today.

•       The Kaiser study also points out that the cell phone’s transformation into a media content delivery platform and the widespread adoption of the iPod and other MP3 devices have facilitated an explosion in media consumption among American youth. This has allowed and encouraged young people to find even more opportunities throughout the day for using media and has expanded the number of hours when they consume media, often while on the go.

•       Plurals also have access to media at more times and in more ways than ever before—in their homes, bedrooms, cars, and pockets.

o      Homes: More than 90 percent have televisions, DVD or VCR players, radios, and computers in the home, while 84 percent have both Internet access and cable or satellite TV.

o      Bedrooms: A growing number even have a television (71 percent), computer (36 percent), and Internet access (33 percent) in their bedrooms.

o      Cars: 37 percent have either built-in or portable televisions or DVD players in their cars.

o      Mobile: Two-thirds own a cell phone, three-quarters own an iPod or other MP3 player, almost 60 percent own handheld videogame players, and 29 percent own laptops.

What is the bottom line for marketers?
Even though Plurals are moving toward establishing autonomy and independence, teachers
and parents remain an important influence in their lives. Developing messaging and promotions that communicate with this new cohort while keeping the adults in mind will require finesse and creativity.

Ultimately, marketers will need to remain flexible and be willing to reinvent themselves to meet the growing needs of this next generation of American consumers. I look forward to seeing them forge their autonomy and take us marketers to new heights.

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