The recession generation, part 2

Young couple

Family holidays, peer-to-peer industries and pension plans – the interests of today’s young are a world away from their hedonistic elders

Last month I described how today’s young consumers – the recession generation – are very different to yesterday’s. Like Ab Fab’s Saffy, they’re typically more serious and more risk averse, have more realistic expectations of others and are becoming increasingly self-reliant.

And they are more concerned with providing for the future: which is good news for financial institutions. According to a study I ran with researchers OnePoll, under-30s are more likely to save, and one in 10 think it’s important to have a pension. But they’ll expect such institutions to adapt to their changing needs and lifestyles.

Unlike pre-recession elder siblings, they’re taking a more realistic approach to value. Less likely to expect ‘something for nothing’, they realise they may have to pay for quality or convenience. Even for things they could recently find for free, such as in-game purchases or streaming. This has positive implications for products and services that recently lost out to ‘free’, from media to music.

According to ONS, over a quarter of 20-34-year-olds in the UK live with their parents. Of course, this has a lot to do with housing costs. But study after study shows they also have a more positive attitude to parents and home: happier to go on family holidays, contributing to bills rather than relying on bank of mum and dad. Extended home-life means larger households, with implications for home and car ownership, retail, insurance and other sectors. They’re more likely to trust friends and family more, too – at the expense of institutions and brands – and supporting peer-to-peer industries.

Meanwhile, brands whose ads target young people’s hedonism may have to change their marketing approach. To focus instead on young people’s serious or practical sides, and offer sympathy and assistance to teens feeling stressed.

This new generation brings opportunities and threats. Embracing their attitudes will make it easier for brands to take up the former – and avoid the latter.

William Higham is founder and chief executive of consumer trends consultancy Next Big Thing


Click here to read part one of the recession generation

About author

William Higham

William Higham

William Higham is the founder and CEO of consumer trends consultancy Next Big Thing.

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