Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.
How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought:
Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth.
The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Friday, July 07, 2006
Making Census out of Generational Breakdowns and Psychographics
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
“Tonight Earl and Edith are headed out to a party at the bar; because Edith loves to dance. Sun loves to dance too, the good daughter. She’s working on her homework though, working on a book report on a book called ‘How to Use the Media.’ She’s also doing an essay on saving the wilderness.”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse “Greendale”
DOUBLE NICKEL RANCH. History, while not repeating itself precisely, acts more like a strange attractor – it reveals simple patterns played out across four generational stereotypes.
Journal of 2020 Foresight: You identified two American generations who opened and closed the West – the past Boomer-equivalents – (Transcendentals) Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson and John Fremont -- and (Missionaries) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Pathfinder: They weren’t the only Boomer ancestors. An American boomer-like generation – the Awakening Generation – born from 1701 to 1723 included Samuel Adams, Crispus Attucks, Chief Pontiac and one of my personal heroes, Benjamin Franklin.
J2020F: Let’s talk about today – the insight between hindsight and foresight.
Pathfinder: O.K. What do you have in mind?
J2020F: How about a further refinement of the current generations?
Pathfinder: Do you mean segmentation, as in marketing and psychographic lifestyle profiles?
J2020F: I think so.
Pathfinder: Then, you are in luck. The hard work has already been done by companies like Claritas. They periodically update their profiles when new census data are released.
J2020F: And, based on our Outpost journey discussions – just because we might be lumped in with same age generation members – our consuming preferences and experiences vary?
Pathfinder: Right, but we can start with current generation categories and break each down – using the Boomers as parents and extending to their parents and then the other way to their children and, in some case, grand children.
J2020F: Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
Pathfinder: Let’s start with the GI Generation (Hero / Civic and Gen Y-like) born between 1901 – 1924, currently in their 80s and 90s and the Silent Generation (Artist / Adaptive) born between 1925 – 1942 in their mid- to late-60s and their late- 70s and early 80s.
J2020F: These are the retired, senior citizens – the majority of AARP members, right?
Pathfinder: Right. Claritas calls them the M4 group – Sustaining Seniors.
J2020F: Let me guess. Many live on fixed incomes are single or widowed, have modest educational achievement and live in older apartments or small homes.
Pathfinder: Yes. What they have in common is: they are over 65 years old with household incomes under $25,000, and “they lead low-key, home-centered lifestyles. They’re big on watching TV, gardening, sewing and woodworking.”
J2020F: Where do they differ?
Pathfinder: While “their social life often revolves around activities at veterans clubs and fraternal organizations,” and they live in communities all over the U.S., their status, needs, wants and priorities differ, as their seven segment names suggest – “Golden Ponds, Old Milltowns, Back Country Folks, Urban Elders, City Roots, Park Bench Seniors and Hometown Retired.”
J2020F: And, according to Strauss and Howe, those Americans in their 80s and 90s are spending their old age in an awakening, while the Silent Generation will pass through the awakening into an unraveling old age.
Pathfinder: Right. The Boomers come in four categories, and 20 lifestyle segments.
J2020F: That figures! Strauss and Howe predict all twenty will spend their mid-life in an unraveling, and old age in a crisis. How does Claritas classify them?
Pathfinders: The 46 to 63 years olds come in F1- Accumulated Wealth, M1-Affluent Empty Nests, M2 – Conservative Classics, and M3- Cautious Couples.
J2020F: What’s the difference between the “F” and “M” labels?
Pathfinder: The 3 “Ms” stand for mature, the one “F” signifies family – households with children.
J2020F: And, the 20 Lifestyles?
Pathfinder: Let’s start with the Accumulated Wealth segment. According to Claritas this segment includes three of the top six wealthiest families, as their lifestyle titles suggest – 02 Blue Blood Estates, 05 Country Squires, and 06 Winner’s Circle.
J2020F: So these must be mostly college-educated, white-collar Baby Boomers living in sprawling homes?
Pathfinder: Here’s how Claritas describes what they have in common: “the group’s median income is nearly six figures—who have the disposable cash and sophisticated tastes to indulge their children with electronic toys, computer games and top-of-the-line sporting equipment.”
J2020F: So these families must be the targets of marketers of luxury products, services and experiences?
Pathfinder: Exactly. “The adults in these households are also a prime audience for print media, expensive cars and frequent vacations—often to theme parks as well as European destinations.”
J2020F: And, now to the mature bunch, the M1-3.
Pathfinder: The first, Affluent Empty Nesters, come segments with colorful names like: “01 Upper Crust, 07 Money & Brains, 09 Big Fish, Small Pond and 10 Second City Elite. ”
J2020F: What do the four lifestyles have in common, and how do they differ from the other two mature boomer segments?
Pathfinder: Well, first of all, these Boomers tend to be younger than 55, but older than 45 years old. Both M2 (Conservative Classics) and M3 (Cautious Couples) tend to be older than 55 yeas old. But, like others in the mature category, they live in childless homes.
J2020F: So these may be the parents of Gen Y, while the M2 and M3 may be the parents of Gen X?
J2020F: What does Claritas have to say about them?
Pathfinder: As you might figure, these are the “upscale couples who are college educated, hold executive and professional positions and are over 45. While their neighborhoods are found across a variety of landscapes—from urban to small-town areas—they all share a propensity for living in large, older homes.”
J2020F: With their children out of the house wouldn’t that mean they have more disposable income?
Pathfinder: Right – “to finance active lifestyles rich in travel, cultural events, exercise equipment and business media. These folks are also community activists who write politicians, volunteer for environmental groups and vote heavily in elections.”
J2020F: So, the most affluent Boomers, then are either with family, F1 or empty nesters, M1?
Pathfinder. Yes, and the next most affluent – an upper-middle-class segment, is the M2 group – again without children.
J2020F: They’ve reached the Double Nickel milestone, right? I can’t wait for their Claritas labels.
Pathfinder: Yes. Both of the remaining mature segments are older than 55. And, they come in the following six flavors: “14 New Empty Nests, 15 Pools & Patios, 21 Gray Power, 26 The Cosmopolitans, 27 Middleburg Managers and 28 Traditional Times. ”
J2020F: So, let me guess. These might be couples living in older suburban homes with two cars in the driveway puttering around the house gardening and throwing barbecues for their neighbors?
Pathfinder: You are too good. They are the ”quiet comfort” group. They’re into “reading books, watching public television. When they go out, it’s often to a local museum, the theater or a casual-dining restaurant like the Olive Garden or Lone Star Steakhouse.”
J2020F: And how about the Cautious Couples – M3?
Pathfinder: See if you can guess from the seven lifestyle profiles: “38 Simple Pleasures, 39 Domestic Duos, 40 Close-In Couples, 41 Sunset City Blues, 43 Heartlanders, 46 Old Glories and 49 American Classics. ”
J2020F: Some college education, but they might be more blue-collar and in more rural areas?
Pathfinder: Age-wise, they’re over-55-year-old and are a mix of singles, couples and widows. To your point, they’re working-class and white, with some college education but with a high rate of homeownership.
J2020F: Are they homebodies too?
Pathfinder: Claritas says “they pursue sedate lifestyles. They have high rates for reading, travel, eating out at family restaurants and pursuing home-based hobbies like coin collecting and gardening.”
J2020F: Enough about the 20 lifestyles of the rich and famous boomers, what about the Gen X Nomad or Reactives – the 25 to 45 year olds?
Pathfinder: Well they’ve been grouped into five segments and with more lifestyles – 32 to be exact.
J2020F: Well, good for them.
Pathfinder: You’re kidding, right? Some of our readers might mistake your comments in written form, you know.
J2020F: Yes, Sorry. I’m guessing these are mostly singles, then?
Pathfinder: Nope. Mostly in the family way -- F2 - Young Accumulators; F3 - Mainstream Families; F4 - Sustaining Families.
J2020F: That doesn’t happen very often. What about the single segments?
Pathfinder: Claritas categorizes them as Y1 - Midlife Success and Y2 - Mainstream Singles.
J2020F: Not to get philosophical, but let’s start with the Ys.
Pathfinder: As in Ys-guys or Why me, why now?
J2020F: I shouldn’t have brought it up! What about the Y1 Midlife Success group – the more affluent of the two?
Pathfinder: Yes, and they are not necessarily single. Some are couples, but they don’t have children.
J2020F: If I’ve done the math right, they’re in their thirties and forties.
Pathfinder: True. Here’s their Claritas description: “The wealthiest of the Younger Years class, this group is home to many white, college-educated residents who make six-figure incomes at executive and professional jobs but also extends to more middle class segments.”
J2020F: What about their eight lifestyles?
Pathfinder: Very descriptive: “03 Movers & Shakers, 08 Executive Suites, 11 God’s Country, 12 Brite Lites, Li’l City, 19 Home Sweet Home, 25 Country Casuals, 30 Suburban Sprawl and 37 Mayberry-ville.”
J2020F: They probably live in the suburbs, workout, and blackberry or google everything, right?
Pathfinder: Claritas says: “Most of these segments are found in suburban and exurban communities, and consumers here are big fans of the latest technology, financial products, aerobic exercise and travel.
J2020F: Y2 - Mainstream Singles – these are the 20 year old singles, right?
Pathfinder: Sure are. Young, hip twenty-something singles who’ve recently settled in metro neighborhoods. The Claritas lifestyles, you ask? The ”04 Young Digerati, 16 Bohemian Mix, 22 Young Influentials, 23 Greenbelt Sports, 24 Up-and-Comers, 31 Urban Achievers and 35 Boomtown Singles.
J2020F: So, some, if not most live in metropolitan areas – probably campuses, living with roommates like the TV hit series, “Friends”?
Pathfinder: Good guess. The official description is as follows: “Their incomes range from working class to well-to-do, but most residents are still renting apartments in cities or close-in suburbs. These seven segments contain a high percentage of Asian singles, and there’s a decidedly progressive sensibility in their tastes as reflected in the group’s liberal politics, alternative music and lively nightlife. Mainstream Singles segments are twice as likely as the general population to include college students living in group quarters.”
J2020F: While I’m on a roll, how about the 3 Fs – those with kids and little cash.
Pathfinder: Well, let’s start with F2 – Young Accumulators. They enjoy anyone of five lifestyles: “13 Upward Bound, 17 Beltway Boomers, 18 Kids & Cul-de-Sacs, 20 Fast-Track Families and 29 American Dreams.”
J2020F: So they’re not as wealthy as the F1 Accumulated Wealth segment, they may be a younger version on their way up?
Pathfinder: Exactly. Their Claritas profile describes them as “slightly younger and less affluent than their upscale peers. Ethnically diverse, these households include an above-average number of Hispanic and Asian Americans. Adults typically have college educations and work a mix of white-collar managerial and professional jobs.”
J2020F: Taking an educated guess, I’d say they graduated from “Friends, “ started their families and have moved into the suburbs, right?
Pathfinder: Yes. They left the “Friends” scene long ago. “The large families in Young Accumulators have fashioned comfortable, upscale lifestyles in their mid-sized homes.”
J2020F: So, I’d say they very busy leading active lives.
Pathfinder. Claritas agrees, “They favor outdoor sports, kid-friendly technology and adult toys like campers, powerboats and motorcycles. Their media tastes lean towards cable networks targeted to children and teenagers.”
J2020F: So these families provide home and shelter to the Gen Y and Z children?
Pathfinder: Yes, and especially the next group – the F3 Mainstream Families. While the age range of adults is broad—from 25 to 54—most families have at least one child under 18.
J2020F: Well that’s not fair. The age range overlaps into the boomer segments – albeit the tail end of the boomers.
Pathfinder: What can I say.
J2020F: Say what their seven lifestyles are.
Pathfinder: Claritas describes this group as, “a collection of seven segments of middle- and working-class child-filled households… living in modestly priced homes—including mobile homes—and ranking high for owning three or more cars. – 32 New Homesteaders, 33 Big Sky Families, 34 White Picket Fences, 36 Blue-Chip Blues, 50 Kid Country, USA, 51 Shotguns & Pickups, 52 Suburban Pioneers and 54 Multi-Culti Mosaic. ”
J2020F: From the names, I’d say they live in more rural, small towns?
Pathfinder: Claritas agrees, “As consumers, Mainstream Families maintain lifestyles befitting large families in the nation’s small towns: lots of sports, electronic toys, groceries in bulk and televised media.”
J2020F: So, that must leave us with the last of the Gen X segments, also a family profile.
Pathfinder: These are the F4 - Sustaining Families: “the least affluent of Family Life groups, an assortment of segments that range from working-class to decidedly downscale.”
J2020F: As a least affluent Gen X group, I’d conclude that they are not homeowners and may hold service-oriented jobs?
Pathfinder: Economically that means their families are relegated “to small, older apartments and mobile homes. And the lifestyles are similarly modest: Households here are into playing games and sports, shopping at discount chains and convenience stores, and tuning into nearly everything that airs on TV and radio.”
J2020F: I imagine their lifestyle labels match their segment.
Pathfinder: Yes, they do: “63 Family Thrifts, 64 Bedrock America, 65 Big City Blues and 66 Low-Rise Living.”
J2020F: And, do their numbers 63 – 66 signify that they fill in the poorest lifestyle clusters?
Pathfinder: Yes, thank you for pointing that out. Occupying their polar opposites on the affluence scale would be the Boomers in the 01 Upper Crust ( M1 Affluent Empty Nests) and 02 Blue Blood Estates (F1 – Accumulated Wealth).
J2020F: Now, what about Gen Y, the Millennial Hero / Civic born between 1982 – 1996 and currently 10 to 24 years old in 2006?
Pathfinder: Believe it or not while they only have one category Y3 - Striving Singles – they’ve got seven segments.
J2020F: And they would be?
Pathfinder: They would be ”42 Red, White & Blues, 44 New Beginnings, 45 Blue Highways, 47 City Startups, 48 Young & Rustic, 53 Mobility Blues and 56 Crossroad Villagers. ”
J2020F: These must be the MySpace, UTube and iPod generation. Low on the affluence scale, renting rather than owning – more like the “Friends Crowd?”
Pathfinder: Here’s Claritas’ official description for them: “Centered in exurban towns and satellite cities, these twenty-something singles typically have low incomes—often under $25,000 a year—from service jobs or part-time work they take on while going to college.”
J2020F: So, they’re enjoying the good life as a student.
Pathfinder: You’ve pegged it. “Housing for this group consists of a mix of cheap apartment complexes, dormitories and mobile homes. As consumers, the residents in these segments score high for outdoor sports, movies and music, fast food and inexpensive cars.”
J2020F: Although you have your own life cycle and plans, the economy has its life cycle -- so, how will it affect your life and your family in major ways.
Copyright ©2002 - 2006 Aarnaes Howard Associates. All rights reserved worldwide.
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