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At the helm: More thoughts about millennials

By Tim Hennagir

Did you know that millennials basically run Congress? That revelation hadn’t crossed my mind until recently, when a pre-American Boating Congress update from the National Marine Manufacturers Association popped into my email inbox. The NMMA Marine Minute I was reading reminded me that the average staffer for a member of Congress is now 25 to 26 years old.

Millennials are expected to overtake Baby Boomers in population next year as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million, according to 2016 projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

And Generation X (ages 36 to 51 in 2016), is projected to pass Boomers in population by 2028.

Our industry is still trying to figure out sales, marketing, and workforce relationships to serve the first generation that’s grown up in a fully digital world.

The Pew Research Center is a godsend when it comes to drawing a fine bead on critical generational demographics. In a recent post, the center’s president, Michael Dimock, provided an intriguing update on millennials.

According to Dimock, most millennials came of age and entered the workforce facing the height of an economic recession, a downturn that severely crippled our industry.

Turning 37 this year, the oldest millennials are well into adulthood, and they first entered adulthood before today’s youngest adults were born.

Dimock correctly points out it’s time to determine a cutoff between millennials and the next generation. Specifically, in order to keep the millennial generation analytically meaningful, and to begin looking at what might be unique about the next cohort, Pew Research Center will use 1996 as the last birth year for millennials its future work. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018) will be considered a millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward will be part of a new, yet-to-be named generation.

Millennials expect everything to be immediately available, easily accessible, and user-friendly because that’s their world. Developing a strong, cutting-edge E-commerce presence isn’t optional with these consumers, it’s a necessity.

However, the Pew Center remains rightfully cautious about what can be projected onto a generation. “We look forward to spending the next few years studying this generation as it enters adulthood,” Dimock concluded. “All the while, we’ll keep in mind generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.”

Millennials are not enigmatic or daunting, they’re simply a highly segmented group that grew up accessing different tools to navigate their position in the marketplace. Understanding that basic concept is one of the first steps in charting a new course that will sustain our industry. 

 

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