This is the second of three posts on the brand marketing lessons to be learned from the recently-concluded
Presidential election. The first can be found here.
is one thing in particular about the recent election results that Baby Boomers
should take care not to overlook. The world Boomers live in nowadays is no
longer their own.
is to say that, as a group, Boomers voted one way; young people voted another. Exit polling data from Pew
found that 60 percent of voters under 30 voted for President Obama while only
48 percent of voters 30 and older voted that way. Contrast this with 1980. Reagan
captured 56 percent of the under-30 vote, along with 62 percent of the
30-and-over vote. In other words, in 1980, young Boomers, as a group, voted the
same way as their parents. Not so in 2012.
generational divergence was first seen in the 2004 race between Kerry and
Bush. In that year, 54 percent of
under-30 voters voted for Kerry versus 47 percent of over-30 voters. But it has only been in the last two
elections with Obama that the political preferences of young people have
overwhelmed those of older voters.
far back as McGovern versus Nixon in 1972, young people and older people have
swung the same way politically (with the one exception of Clinton versus Dole
in 1996), barely differing in proportions in most elections. No longer. In the
last three Presidential elections, young voters have marched to a completely different
drummer, and now older voters must make do in a world at odds with their overall
sort of ascendance of Millennials is an unprecedented generational
phenomenon. Boomers came of age with new
values but the same politics as older people; so, too, GenX. Millennials are
the first generation since the end of WW2 to start off with a completely
different politics than their elders, and they are doing so in such numbers
that their preferences are dictating terms for everyone else.
is true of politics is true of brand marketing as well.
Boomers have been the
dominant force on the scene for decades, but Millennials are now leading the
way. This is most apparent in technology, the key thing driving innovation and
business models in every category. Boomers are fast followers of every
technological innovation, but Millennials and Millennial tastes are channeling
the flow of technology in directions they prefer. Boomers live in a world built
fact, this unseating of traditional power brokers in both politics and the
marketplace goes beyond generations. As the recent election made clear, the
demographics of diversity are now in control. Exit polls conducted by CNN
found that Obama won 93 percent of the African-American vote and 71 percent of
the Hispanic vote, but only 39 percent of the white vote. This is noteworthy
because the 2010 census found that 92
percent of the population growth in the U.S. during the prior decade was
accounted for by minorities, Hispanics in particular.
and diversity intersect. Young people are much more racially and ethnically
diverse than older people, a difference that is only going to become more pronounced.
In 2011, for the first time in U.S. history, non-white newborns outnumbered
fact that diversity is ascendant as a correlate of the rise of the next
generation of consumers means that Boomers now find themselves at a perilous
crossroads. At the very moment Boomers need to bear down and stay engaged with
work and the marketplace, the marketplace is veering away from them. With
contours unlike any seen before, older people must come to terms with a world
not of their making. Brand marketers, too.
are the reason cited most often as the biggest reason that diversity matters,
but while enormously important, that is actually the smaller part of the story.
The real significance of diversity becoming the mainstream marketplace is that
it adds momentum to the on-going shift to a marketplace utterly dominated
by microtargeting. The absence of a shared experience of big culture deprives
brand marketers of the commonality of connection needed to build a master
brand. In effect, this will make all branding, even in the home U.S. market, a
form of multi-country global branding.
outlined in a Future Perspectives white paper from The Futures Company called The Future of Global Brands, the
first generation of global brand marketing was an export model in which master
brands were taken unchanged to other countries and mostly managed from the home
country. This gave way to a second-generation in-country model with local managers
handling local affairs. The third-generation standardization model was centered
on the idea of cosmopolitan consumers with cross-country similarities. The
fourth-generation glocalization model involved local customization of a global
current fifth-generation co-creation model involves an explicit collaboration
between brand owners and local markets. Rather than customizing a global
concept for a local market, co-creation means an iterative, interactive process
whereby the very concept of the brand itself arises bottom-up and, by virtue of
this conception, is specific to individual market situations.
model of co-creation fits today’s global economy in which a brand must be
different everywhere because individual cultures, not a shared big culture,
predominate. Globalization has not
globalized tastes; instead, it has had the paradoxical effect of unleashing
localism. This reality of the global marketplace is now being replicated in the
U.S. marketplace by the demographic force of diversity. No less than separate
cultures, separate sub-cultures require that a brand be different everywhere. Even
in the home U.S. market, diversity will require that brands co-create multiple
versions to fit cultural groups with distinctive tastes and preferences. What’s
true for the global economy is now true for the U.S. economy. The next
generation of both marketing and consumers is now in control.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: J. Walker Smith, Executive Chairman, The Futures Company
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
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