Everyone has been talking about millennials for the last 10 years. And more recently as Gen Z has come of age, they are now entering the conversation since they are impacting the alcohol beverage industry. This group was born after 1997 and have been a focal point for food brands (especially fast casual chains and plant-based protein brands). Millennials are an example of how we segment consumers based on age. They were born from about 1981-1997. The other groups based on this segmentation are Generation X (1965-1980), Baby Boomers (1946-1664), Depression Era (1930-1945) and the Greatest Generation (Born before 1930).
Much of the marketer’s attention over the past 10 years has been centered around millennials and those of us in the Baby Boomer generation are feeling slighted, as we had been the focus of marketers for the past 25 years. I guess what goes around comes around!
One thing I know for sure is that Boomers still represent a sizable amount of wealth, relative to the other groups. This also translates into more disposable income, which provides premium brands with the opportunity to capitalize on them.
However, as I thought more about this, I realized that many of the Boomers are also the parents of the millennials and older Gen Z. We are responsible for what is going on today and continue to influence their behavior, especially if they are still living with us in their 20s and sometimes into their 30s! And, as a result of Covid quarantines and the growth of teleworking, this trend has continued to accelerate.
While I am from Philly, I have spent every summer of my life at what I like to refer to as the “real” Jersey shore. (Home base was North Wildwood and now Wildwood Crest, but I spent significant time from Cape May to Atlantic City). This summer I paid particular attention to the behavior of people on the beach, at their hotel/condo and at the local establishments that I frequented.
Obviously, this summer was far from normal, but I wanted to compare my long-term experiences to what we have been dealing with to see which things would change permanently and what would go back to “normal”.
What I realized was that regardless of where or what your “beach” is, the summer is one time when it is acceptable for people from all the age groups discussed above to enjoy a beverage together.
This led me to think about other “acceptable” situations for millennials and Gen Z over 21 years-old to hang out with the Boomers. During football season, it’s common to see groups of people of all ages at sports bars cheering on their teams and wearing their colors. This holds true for most college and professional sporting events, although the NFL has the largest following.
The fall/winter holidays are another time when it’s “acceptable” to enjoy your favorite beverage with your family or co-workers of all ages. This could be at someone’s house or at a local bar/restaurant. Either way, you have people of different ages coming together and alcohol is often an important part of the gathering.common
The “New Normal” has begun!
So, what does this mean for you and your business?
You need to understand how your Baby Boomer customers think about your business and how they can influence the behavior of the other groups (what to drink, where to drink it, what day/time etc.). This could be as simple as talking and listening to them directly or hiring someone to conduct some basic marketing research for you. Then, adjust your marketing strategy based on your findings.
Whether you are an on- or off-premise account, you need to understand this group of consumers and build your products, merchandising and marketing programs around how they live. It will positively impact your bottom line!
And remember, marketing is a race with no finish line.
George Latella teaches Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is the largest major at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 59th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-660-2254.